Camping is a great way to make yourself “unplug” while on vacation. 

Many of us would have to think hard to remember the last time we travelled without a cell phone. Some of you may never recall travelling without a cell phone. Today, not only do we have phones in our pockets, but many carry a computer in that phone. Your emails come to you any time of day or night: weekends, sick days or vacation days. The device probably has a browser and you can look up any information you want, wherever you are, whenever you want.

This is summer and we are supposed to take vacations. I hope you do and find time to explore your neighbourhood or various parts of this great country Canada. There is so much to see and do.

You have also likely read that it is healthy to be totally disconnected from your technology for a period of time. Vacation is a good time to do that – to rely on good old-fashioned communication. Yes, you may want your phone handy to use your GPS app; however can you truly turn off your instant messaging, texting, emails and just use it as a piece of equipment to enable you to have a better vacation?

Recently, on our vacation, we camped in a beautiful BC provincial park. We knew it had no hydro or water service to the campsite. We suspected it would be in poor range for cell service. Perfect – we found we had no cell service at all. Well this was a new phenomenon. After setting up camp and having dinner, we sent part of our family on their way back home. Off we went exploring this new park. A couple of hours passed and it crossed my mind that it should be time we received a text that our family arrived home safely and a good night message. I actually didn’t get as far as reaching for my phone, as I did recall that I had turned it off and even turning it on wasn’t going to be of use.  Interestingly enough, I found myself with that thought crossing my head a few times those first few days. Not once did I go for the phone, but found I had to remind myself that I was unplugged. Unplugged from hydro, unplugged from my computer, unplugged from my phone. I had to reflect – when was the last time I was this unplugged? I realized it had been several years. We had often gone camping without hydro, but not without at least minimal cell service.

A couple of days later, when we were on a short hike, I tried to explain to my granddaughters that this is the way life used to be. We used to trust. We trusted that when someone left after a visit and said their good-byes, they would arrive home safely. We always said ‘be safe’ or ‘drive safe’ but the theory was ‘no news is good news’. I did have to attempt to explain that theory, using a variety of examples to these young girls, before they seemed to grasp what I was saying. I received these sort of strange looks. Then I shared – well if there is really news that we truly need to know this week, your parents will contact the park warden or the police will come or some family member or friend will come with a message.

Seems like for many those days of trusting that ‘no news is good news’ are gone. However, for all of those camping in these remote areas we all agreed – what a good thing to be unplugged. By mid-week, I was no longer giving much thought to wondering how many emails may be arriving, etc. I did trust they would all be there when I turned my electronic device back on. Sure enough they all were.

A day or two likely doesn’t do it – at least according to everything I have read and reviewed. That time is probably not long enough to totally give your brain a break. Whether you travel for vacation, go to a cottage or stay home, try a week – or even more – of unplugged vacation (even the TV). You may find it refreshing. At least turn off as much as you possibly can.

Shirley Hickman