I try to maintain a holistic perspective on life. Theologically, I see my work as ministry and all part of my calling. So hopefully I’m the same person with clients in the boardroom that I am with my family in the living room with slight variations in topics discussed and wardrobe. Thus, when it comes to the whole life/work balance issue, I’m pretty Weeble-like in my balancing of the two (“Weebles wobble but they don’t fall down” for those of you who have never seen the old TV ad for the egg-like pre-school figures). I integrate work with life quite well except for in one area: vacation.
When I read this informative article on easy ways to call home when overseas on a vacation trip, I think, “Great! This is helpful (and the article really is). I definitely want to have my phone with me on a trip.”
Just don’t call me.
Cell phones are wonderful for dialing the next town’s B&B for availability or to check the opening times of a museum or park. And with a smart phone, you can read instant reviews by other travelers of a place you have just stumbled on. But work calls? Getting in touch with the office to make sure everything is OK? Reviewing work documents on my trip? Checking my email? Uh-uh. Not if I can help it. And sometimes, I can’t. (Like the time I had to do a conference call overlooking the Mark Twain steamboat at Disney World.)
With business travel, leaving home without my Blackberry would be akin to removing my right arm. With vacation travel, however, I am hard pressed to live in the moment when my mind is back in the office. I undermine the entire point of relaxing on a trip when my ear feels vulcanized to my cell phone for a work call as I desperately try to get a good connection out on the street while my family enjoys the local festivities inside. That instant cellular tether to the office that makes work trips so seamless becomes a ball and chain on vacation. And prison paraphernalia is not on my packing list for vacation trips.
Going on a vacation and disconnecting from work takes effort (and an understanding boss). I have to strive extra hard before I leave to take care of everything that might possibly occur in my absence. I have to rely on my colleagues more. I have to communicate with my clients and let them know I have a life apart from them. And yes, I have to trust God to take care of what I cannot control. But when you think about it, “what I cannot control” covers just about everything in life. Turning off my phone or not checking on work while on a vacation trip is just a tiny reminder that God – not me – is ultimately in charge of the situation, here on my trip or back at the office.
So read this helpful article about the options for calling home when you go overseas. Just keep it in perspective and remember that the point of your vacation is not to “check just one more email” but to be on vacation. You’ll find a lot more meaning in the scene around you than on the screen in your hand.