I have a wonderful gift idea … one you can give yourself and that will benefit others. This gift is priceless and won’t break your budget!
Give yourself the gift of airplane mode.
I am not talking about your in-flight cell phone setting. I mean putting the phone away, and your computer too. Taking some much-needed time for yourself, being present in the moment, spending uninterrupted time with your friends and family.
Have you ever been completely disconnected? I have and here is my story.
Just a few days of airplane mode did wonders for me.
It started when our daughter decided to spend a semester of her junior year studying in New Zealand. We thought it would be wonderful to visit her, and shockingly she agreed! As we would have to travel halfway around the world, we booked three weeks for the trip. I was excited, but became a bit nervous. Three weeks away … yikes, that’s a long time.
I have been working full-time since college and have never taken three weeks off. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of vacations, but most have been a week or so. And trust me, maternity leaves don’t count!
I decided to give it a shot and started planning.
I would tie up all the loose ends at work and my non-profit boards before I left. I had full support from my colleagues and clients. New Zealand is 19 hours ahead of Chicago. At 10 am back home it would be 4 am “the next day.” I could check in early in the morning if needed. I liked the thought of being a day ahead! Sounded very productive. With internet access at our hotels, and our international calling plan, I was set. Until …
Stephen suggested we go on a three-day wilderness hike. He showed me three options, all about thirty miles, and told me to choose (guess which one I picked):
Hike 1: Carry your own tent, clothes, and food
Hike 2: Carry clothes and the company carries tents and food
Hike 3: Carry clothes, and sleep in lodges with prepared food, running water, and electricity (Bingo)
Great news. We would be “glamping.” I could handle that … I would still have access to my beloved phone and internet.
But then I read the fine print: Feel free to use your phone for pictures and you can charge the phones at the lodge: Please note that the areas we will be hiking will not have internet or cell access and neither will the lodge. We will have radios for emergencies and you can provide your loved ones with the emergency number.
After the initial shock, I decided I could go off the grid. Hey, I survived the girls in middle school, what is three days without email and Instagram?
We were given a list of essentials: Rain gear, hiking poles, sunscreen, and insect repellent. We trained for the hike by carrying our backpacks around town. We were ready to go.
The Hike Begins
So let’s fast forward. We are in New Zealand on our wilderness adventure. The phone went into airplane mode and so did I. We hiked, we laughed, we ate, we played games, my husband and daughter had my undivided attention (when I could catch up to them). I felt so relaxed. Stephen mentioned that it was the first time in years he did not hear me say, “Hang on, just one more email.”
What a memorable experience! Sixteen hikers and we were the only Americans. We all bonded as a group. Such interesting people; real characters. Deep, uninterrupted conversations. Nothing to distract us from the beauty of our surroundings.
As we boarded the bus back to Queenstown, I savored the last few hours in airplane mode. And then the announcement came. “You can now have phone access.” One of the boys immediately looked up his college grades. Another man dove into his emails. I could see both of their expressions change immediately. We are all so tied to our phones ...
It was 2 am in Chicago, so no point in checking right away. I decided to wait. We reached the hotel. I took a long shower and relaxed a bit. Okay, it was time. My heart started to beat a bit faster. I turned off airplane mode and ... over 400 emails!
I scanned them one at a time, and came to the following conclusions:
- Few of them were urgent.
- Those that were urgent had already been resolved by my colleagues.
- I missed a ton of great Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals — great for the budget!
The trip was wonderful in so many ways. We climbed the Sydney Bridge, snorkeled in the Great Barrier Reef, hiked in the Blue Mountains, biked through Sydney, and rafted in Queenstown. Most importantly, we had quality time with our daughter and her friends, as well as our new hiking friends. It was the trip of a lifetime, but the true benefit I received was the wisdom that it’s okay to disconnect.
I told a friend about my trip and being disconnected. She said: “I wish my dad would have heard this story. All he did was work, even on vacation. Maybe my parents would still be married today if he was able to break away from work every now and then.”
I know life gets busy and we are all tied to our phones. I hope that you will take some time to go in airplane mode. Start with even a few hours and gradually increase your time disconnected. Most phones show you how much time you are spending on them each week. Set a goal for yourself and have your phone alert you when your time is up! You may be surprised what you will learn from this experience.
Do you feel present with your loved ones?
Try to go on airplane mode this holiday season. I would love to hear your experience.
Shari Greco Reiches
Shari co-founded Rappaport Reiches Capital Management with one goal - to maximize the return on life for her clients. Please connect with Shari below. She loves to talk about investing, financial planning, and Barry Manilow.