Balancing Travel and Social Media

It used to be that friends, family, and neighbors would go on vacation and maddie itouchwe would have to wait for their return home to hear about the trip. As for photos? Those might be produced days or weeks later after a trip to the photo shop. Today, that’s certainly not the case. We can live vicariously through our friends’ and families’ travels – or they can live through us – simply by tuning into social media as updates and images are published freely.

There’s one problem. Sometimes we forget a little detail when we travel – we’re on a family vacation. Unless you are a travel writer and/or blogger on a working trip where you are expected to be live reporting on social media there’s no need to post your family’s every vacation moment. You may even find that you’re missing precious moments with your loved ones, not because you’re uploading a photo to Instagram (that just takes a moment) but because you’re more likely to get sucked into what is going on back home, an interesting article, of other families’ Facebook updates.

Technology is tough on families as it is and, hopefully, getting away from the computer and TV is part of the joy of your family’s travels. However, tech isn’t a bad thing for family travel. We use it for navigation, airline boarding passes, travel apps, and keeping pertinent information regarding our itineraries. It even has a place with our kids. For example, my daughter writes travel journals on her iTouch when we’re on the road while my son keeps photo and video documents. Yes, it’s true your teens may be texting friends back home or your pre-teen prefers to be tuned-out listening to their personal music. Kids are kids after all. But at the same time, we parents should be setting the example for family vacations. Limiting or balancing our own social media time can make quite the difference during our family time and help create lasting memories.

Here are some tips for keeping your social media habits in check while you travel:

1. The right times. When posting on social media stick with early in the morning or late at night when the family is asleep or when the family is preoccupied. Is your husband splashing with the kids in the ocean or standing in line for a ride while you sit out? Are you in transition such as on the road or inflight? Then go for it.

2. Wait until you get home (gasp!). I know this one is tough. However, it’s not a bad idea if your house is unattended. But giving up social media for the entire trip will give you a much needed rest, as in a real vacation.

3. Stick with no-tech times. Banish personal electronics for the entire family during meals, tours, activities, or whenever is appropriate for your clan. Hey, did you know some hotels offer Digital Detox packages where guests can actually surrender their electronics for their stay? How daring are you?

4. Talk to your spouse before you depart about travel tech rules. Having the two of you working as a team is much easier for everyone and it’s best to have that conversation long before you’re at your destination.

5. Go old school. This one is fun…especially if you stay off of social media the entire trip. Send friends and family postcards via snail mail. The look on their face when they check the mail will be priceless.

Let’s all get into the moment and put the “family” back into family travel.

6 Responses to “Balancing Travel and Social Media”

  1. 1

    Great post… as a fellow travel blogger I also share my adventures on social media as I go, but when I’m on a personal holiday it’s great to have a little digital detox. Well… for as long as I can! Being in an area with no reception definitely helps me get my twitter twitch under control.

  2. 2
    Ronny says:

    Good ground rules … it can be easy to get stuck behind a camera or a smartphone, and to miss out on drinking the moment in…

  3. 3

    Handling social media can be stressful when you’re traveling and have to work at the same time. Living by the first rule really helps me find the time to actually update my Facebook… or my Twitter… or my Instagram… or more than one of them 😀

  4. 4
    Monnette says:

    Vacationing in a place with no or limited connectivity can be a real break from the virtual world. Your family will have no choice but to go, explore the area and smell the flowers…

  5. 5
    Mark says:

    This is funny. Your post reminded me of a commercial I saw a few days ago on Hulu. I think it was for Disney World but the family were all enjoying the trip. The father noticed his daughter was pratically on her phone the whole time. Taking pictures and whatnot. At the end, the father received a message (or was included in a tweet or something) where the daughter posted a collage of pictures saying that she was having a great time with the family.

    But you are right, there is a time for everything. It will be interesting to see how that time shifts when the entire planet is wireless. Till then, I don’t know if it is really possible anymore for anyone to go travel without a camera or a means to access the internet. And there was a time when we did that (the Middle Ages for example).

  6. 6
    Jeff B says:

    Depending on how far out there you are, connecting to Wifi on your Smartphone and uploading a pic and quick comment might be a great way to offer updates without having to carve out an hour at the beginning or end of the day. We all do this anyway throughout our days.

    Instead of writing full, lengthy email updates, I prefer the old-fashion handwritten in the journal approach. It pulls me into the mindset of vacation and reflection rather than being on the computer, in get stuff done mode. Once the vacation is over, thumb through the journal and write a nice summary to family and friends, including a few pictures or a link to your Facebook / Instagram / Pinterest page.

    To us all living more sustainable, globally connected lives that matter!


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