In July, the family and I headed out on a 7-day cruise from Texas to Honduras and Mexico.
I decided not to buy the internet package at $17.99 per day. I knew that on day 4 of the trip, we would be in Honduras and there I would use my T-Mobile Roaming phone to get online so no need to add more costs – besides, the plan was to chill by the pool with a cold drink in hand. No phone, therefore, no internet required.
My kids could roam the ship on their own and do their own thing without their phones and I had brought along the Cobra walkie-talkie to be able to reach them. I was looking forward to not checking my social media feeds and constantly refreshing my website and YouTube analytics.
Vacation Mode was set to On and the break was going to wonderfully relaxing.
Except it wasn’t.
It was ridiculously stressful.
Day 1 was fine, but by the end of day 2, my mind was racing with the “what if” situations. What if my clients were trying to reach me? What if my YouTube channel was tanking? What if my blog was down? What if What if What if…
The disconnected feeling was real.
4 important lessons about being constantly connected:
1. It takes a while: Maybe it’s because my work is online or maybe it’s because I have been running my own business for 18 years or maybe its because I have been conditioned to be constantly connected, but it takes a while to get used to not having connectivity. Going “cold-turkey” was too much for the body and mind to handle.
Lesson: Days before heading out, reduce the reliability on the phone. Leave it in your office desk drawer while you head out to grab a cup of Starbucks coffee..some people are starting to sweat just thinking about walking out of the office without a phone. It’s a freaky feeling but the less you carry your phone with you, the less likely you are to look for a screen to stare at.
2. Everyone was connected: Almost everyone on the ship had a phone in hand and most people I spoke with had paid the connectivity charges. Kids, teens, adults, grandparents were seen everywhere with their phones and tablets at all times. The only time the phone was put down was for a brief moment to jump in to cool off. Some even had waterproofing cases for their phones so they could snap that Nirvana moment underwater
Lesson: Sitting in a t-shirt or in a bathing suit by a pool with a phone in hand is today’s version of chilling. Life is lived via the camera and the captions and not via with the eyes. Put down the phone and just be in the moment. Not easy if you are a constant “share-er”
3. Not Prepared: In the olden days you arrived at a place with a Travel book in hand and that was your source of information about the activities, restaurants, and things “to do”. Today we use apps and google search to get instant recommendations – but not having that, kinda left me with a feeling of not being prepared. Simple decisions became a chore of asking people. It was a decision on which beach to go to – not how to split the atom! Yet – we didn’t want to make the “wrong” decision…
Lesson: pre-plan. If I know I am heading out into an area without connectivity, plan ahead and print some pages. I hate being spontaneous and just popping into places, but maybe that is what we have lost by being meticulously over planning over researching and having plan A, plan B, plan C vs. just smiling at a local information desk and asking the questions you type into Google.
4. Not knowing: Being disconnected from who said what on Twitter wasn’t so much of a problem versus not knowing that all is ok with family and work. When I did eventually connect, all I did was frantically scroll through work emails looking for any issues. There were none. I felt better.
Lesson: if you are like me without a team of people that can look after your work when you are away, then this type of stress at best can be reduced with processes and automation but in reality, it never vanishes. Entrepreneurs and business owners just live with this kind of “is everything ok” question constantly.
Eventually, I did get into the silence and not checking my phone but it did take a while to actually feel disconnected and be ok with it. Next time, I will get the internet package, just to ensure that nothing is broken and then lock it up in the safe and enjoy the rest of the day stress-free.