Friday, July 29, 2011

What do you pack for vacation?

It's vacation time. Most of us have a variety of equipment that we rely on daily--laptops, iPads, iPods, iPhones--aye, aye aye. I've had the experience of dragging along a wheeled computer bag that weighed almost as much as the luggage I checked for a flight. And then I had to try to jam it under an airplane seat because I knew lifting it overhead would be a struggle. What was it filled with? My electronics and communication equipment. All that stuff I believe I simply cannot live without for more than twenty-four hours. (Twenty-four hours? Let's try four hours.)

I recently left town for a one-day workshop that required an overnight stay. I broke into a cold sweat as I weighed out whether or not to take along my mini-notebook. I was going to be in a workshop the full next day, then driving four hours to return home. I would have a few hours in the evening after arriving at the hotel, but would be having dinner and meeting up with a few friends. Could I really not live without checking email for one night? With trembling hands, I removed the notebook from my travel bag and set it aside.

I know, most of you can check your email anywhere from your iPhone or a similar phone. I've deliberately avoided having that feature or the texting feature on my phone. My phone is just that--a phone with voicemail.

I've lived long enough to remember the old, ugly black dial telephone that was tethered to the wall, usually in a central place in the house. One phone and you had to stand or sit right there to use it. I'm all for techno advances, and I love carrying a cell phone that makes instant contact convenient. I sometimes wonder how I managed without one. What did I do years ago when the car broke down along the highway? And what might have happened if I could have multi-tasked and taken care of business while doing other things--like driving? I could be a millionaire today. (Okay, I'm being facetious.)

I learned something, however, from my brief freedom from my laptop. I learned how dependent I've become on having an immediate cyber-connection to my friends, family, and the rest of the world. As an author, I'm certainly dependent on my devices to capture those fleeting but brilliant thoughts that pop into my head.

Now I'm looking at planning a vacation later in the year. The decision looms: What to pack, and what to leave behind? Is it really a vacation if I drag a laptop along so I can work? Will my friends or family post an obituary if they don't hear from me for a week?

I'm curious. How do you determine what to take along on vacation and what to leave behind? Can we literally live without electronics for a week, or are we just as tethered to our wireless devices as we once were to that old, ugly wall-bound telephone?



Sandra Cox said...

Live without electronics? Hmmm. We might have serious withdrawls:)_

Linda Rettstatt said...

I know. My palms sweat when I tucked away the netbook and left empty handed. Why fight it? I mean, there are worse addictions. Like my addiction to Vistaprint. :)