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Unplug on your vacation and relax, really

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No cell phone. No iPad. No laptop. Are you able to take a completely unplugged vacation?

Mention an unplugged vacation to most Americans, and their responses range from amusing to the wistful.

Although it’s almost unheard of these days, heading off on a vacation without access to Wi-Fi or email is achievable. And, believe it or not, it’s worth doing. Some brave souls who truly understand that vacation means a respite from work are doing it so successfully that they return from their vacations rested and energized. What a concept! 

“An unplugged vacation is where I completely go off the grid, preferably in a natural setting where I can get inspired and recharge,” said Jeanne Sullivan, much of whose 20-year public relations career has focused on the travel industry. She is now president of Sullivan Says PR, a travel public relations firm in the San Francisco area. 

“That means no cell phones, laptops, iPads or any other gadgets that involve answering emails, making work calls or posting on social media. I turn those off because I don't want to risk someone pinging me or being tempted to research more data on my trip. Even if I resolve not to use these devices for work, I find that using electronics too much can wear me out or prevent me from being in the moment.” 

More people are having a hard time turning off their cell phones, laptops and tablets and disconnecting from social media during vacations. NBC's Chris Clackum reports.

Sullivan has taken several unplugged vacations — a road trip to Yosemite National Park this summer, a 10-day driving trek though Scotland in 2010 and a 10-day cruise to Alaska three years ago.

Another vacationer who understands the meaning of time off from work is Jim Orr, a lobby manager of 34 employees at the busy Museum of Modern Art in New York. 

Recently, he took a two-week vacation to Martha’s Vineyard, without laptop or smart phone. 

“I'd rather be active and observing my surroundings,” said Orr, who also spent another unplugged vacation week in July on Hilton Head, S.C. 

If you would like to relax when out of the office, take it from those who’ve done so well. 

Schedule ahead 
“Plan it way in advance so you have time to plan holes in your schedule and train either a coworker or partner to cover for you,” said Sullivan. “Block out time—perhaps a few days before and after—to give you the chance to wrap up loose ends before and catch up afterwards.” 

Give your “work self” a break 
“You have to commit to yourself that no matter how guilty people try to make you feel for unplugging, that you won't give in and schedule a call here and there,” added Sullivan.

Forget “false” emergencies
“There should always be a person somewhere who can fill in for you or take messages,” added Orr, “and others need to understand that ‘immediacy’ is a new thing in our lives and not all that necessary.”


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