There was something refreshing to be on vacation with limited access to technology. I checked in on the internet each morning (I am an early riser and was up before everyone else) while at the Villa outside Verona... as the house had very strong wifi. Yet I had no international mobile access to data via my iPhone while spending each day exploring the joys of Northern Italy, as the cost was just too high.
Interestingly without the constant leash to email, voicemail, FB, twitter, Google+, etc... everything around me seemed whole. The experience of the vacation was not spoiled by any distractions.
We were in Italy for ten days with several other families. For most of the time there were seven adults and seven kids in our group (although the group was as large as 21 people before we arrived). My friend Leslie, who organized the multi-week / multi-family excursion, counted 41 internet capable devices came through the villa in two weeks. One family of four had seven or eight electronic devices (we had four.... with two iPhones, the iPad, and the NetBook). This number did not count non-intent gadgets and cameras! Wow... that is proof that we live in a wired world.
Each day we would grab breakfast at the house. I would walk to the nearby small town for a quick cappuccino (no other coffee drinkers in the crowd) and talk with the locals, who definitely live a slower paced life. Then we would all go explore a nearby city or town. This included eating delicious gelatto everyday... sometimes twice! (I gave up being mostly vegan for this trip, as "no cheese / no meat" is crazy talk to the Italians). The end of the day would involve a dip in the pool for the kids and then out to dinner or meals around one of the villa's cozy dining areas. Yep, there was lots of good wine (This was Italy after all) and lively conversations that all involved more than 140 characters!!!
My iPhone served mainly as a gaming device for the kids rather than my constant link to the world.
My clients were all fine and understood my week away situation. I received a few inquiries to speak at Fall business conferences and everyone was cool to wait to talk in depth until my return home. My extended family all got postcards. My Twitter followers barely noticed I was quieter than normal. I did post a daily pics from Italy on Facebook, but that was my only social media activity. I even pre-scheduled my blog posts for most of the time I was gone.
This experience makes me wonder if the constant buzz of "being connected" is really as important as we think? I did not have instant news updates being pushed my way and I survived without knowing the latest Hollywood gossip or how the Republicans and Democrats in Washington were positioning their failures to govern. I survived. Actually... I thrived.
What is important? My wife and kids. Our friends with whom we shared this adventure. The nice people we met along the way. The natural beauty of the planet. The art and history that we got to see (if you are ever in Milan... make sure to plan ahead to get tickets to see "The Last Supper".... being in the room looking at this masterpiece is worth it). In the real world we can touch is what is important.
Will I be back to my "plugged in" life within days of getting home? I imagine so. I just hope I can hang on to this feeling of what makes me feel whole for a little longer. Does the constant connectivity cage part of our soul? Are we less complete when always online?
Have A Great Day.