Travel with kids: Should you take technology?
Do you dream of a vacation away from it all? No email, smartphone, computer -- nothing! Well, maybe just your iPhone... and your hubby wants his iPad, of course... and the kids need their portable gaming system... and so on. When you're traveling with your family, is it possible to be totally unplugged?
We all need a vacation every now and again to relax, unwind and get away from the pressures of day-to-day life. In this techie age, most of us are addicted to technology and think we can't live without it. So vacation seems like a great time to unplug... or does it? Though it's a good idea to get away from all your electronics and gadgets every once in a while, when you are traveling with your children, you probably won't be able to completely break free from technology.
Family road trips can be a whole lot of fun. However, kids get bored and they need something to keep them occupied. You can play the license plate game, but how long will that last? While they are in the car, it's a good idea to keep them occupied with a few gadgets. A portable DVD player or a handheld gaming system can be just what is needed to stop the incessant cries of "Are we there yet?" coming from the backseat.
Play it safe
Of course, you shouldn't travel without your smartphone. If your car was to break down or you were to get lost, it's an absolute must for safety reasons. GPS units are great when you are in unfamiliar locations because they tell you exactly how to get from point A to point B. Many cars are equipped with GPS these days, and if yours isn't, you most likely have GPS apps and Google maps right on your phone.
At your destination
Once you reach your destination, it's time to ditch the technology as much as possible. Even though most vacation spots -- no matter how remote -- offer Wi-Fi these days, you don't want your family glued to their phones, laptops and other electronics. You want them to unplug and interact. If your kids say they're bored on a camping trip, don't be tempted to allow them to break out the video games. Go on a nature hike and explore the great outdoors instead.
Being tech-free offers a great opportunity to really talk and bond as a family. In many cases, parents are just as guilty about clinging to technology as kids. Believe it or not, it's not essential that you upload your vacation photos to Facebook immediately after you take them or that you check your email every hour. However, technology is still helpful in small doses while you are at your destination. For example, you can read restaurant reviews online before deciding where to eat in a strange city. And of course, you do want to take photos on your trip -- so you'll need your smartphone or a digital camera. But you should establish screen time limits for your vacation.
Don't give in
If your kids are tech-junkies, there will undoubtedly be some nagging when you cut back or eliminate their electronics. However, after a few days without being constantly online or otherwise using technology, everyone will find themselves missing it less and less. And who knows -- when you return home, maybe you can all be a little less dependent on technology too.
Technology adds so much to our lives, but sometimes the best thing to do with technology is to simply leave it behind. For a little while, anyhow.