Do you need a vacation from the Internet?

Enjoy the local hangouts and get to know people as well as places

When you run an online business, taking a vacation is a hard thing to do. Never mind the weeks of preparation needed to actually leave home, once you get to your destination you have to let go of how you thought things would be when you got there.

The best laid plans

  • I planned a vacation where I could be connected to my business through an iPad
  • I rented places that had WiFi
  • I planned to post photos and commentary on Facebook
  • I planned to write a couple of blog posts during my three week holiday overseas

The first apartment in Amsterdam had WiFi. Staying connected with my network of online students, Twitter followers, Facebook Likers and emails, started off really well. I posted photos on Facebook a few times a day and had lots of interaction with people.

Things went kinda sideways after leaving Amsterdam when my iPad wouldn’t connect to the WiFi at the place I was staying on the island of Texel. It actually connected, but no one seemed to know the password. I wasn’t too worried at that point, because the house we were renting next did have WiFi, so I decided to take a few days off work and get a bicycle and explore the island that way.

Finding the library, but not finding WiFi

Stop number three in Twijzel had WiFi, but for some unknown reason I was not able to connect to it with my iPad. I had the password and even had the owner’s tech savvy son come and try to figure it out for me. No luck!

The man at the organic fruit stand in the nearby town of Buitenpost suggested that we go to the library to get internet access. He was right! But there was no WiFi and no way to get my photos onto Facebook or a blog post. The librarian told me the only place that had WiFi was in Dokkum, a town that was about 20 km away. That’s where I uploaded this blog post from using my free daily 1-hour access and the Blogsy app on my iPad.

Just take a vacation already!

Vacation mode is alright if you let yourself relax, something that’s hard for me to do when I’m used to being at a computer 12 to 14 hours a day. It bugged me a lot at first to have no WiFi, but then I realized the opportunity to truly have a break from working, explore the countryside around me and experience a slower lifestyle for a couple of weeks. I still had the library in the next town and using a bicycle to get there every day was also a good way to burn off the Dutch calories. (So many bakeries, so little time.)

Enjoy different scenery and quality of light than what you’re used to

Take lots of photos

  • Keep it simple
  • Use only a point and shoot camera
  • Concentrate on composition
  • Go beyond the usual touristy subjects
  • Notice how different the light is from your home
  • Ditch the grey card – yes really

Read a novel

It really doesn’t take that long to read a good novel. Eight hours for 297 pages to be exact. Back home I think I don’t have time for such unproductive activity. Oh, was I ever wrong! I’m going to get to that bookshelf of unread novels when I get home.

Ride a bike. You’ll be able to stop and take photos along the way.

Ride a bike

One of my self imposed “conditions” to using the library’s computer in the next town was that I’d have to bike there. It was only 4 km away, but that could feel like 1 km or 20 km depending on the wind speed and direction!

Go for walks

We took daily car rides to towns in the area, parked the car and walked around. We tried to go places where the weekly markets were taking place, so that we could buy fresh cooked local treats right from the vendors. We had poffertjes, stroop waffels and lots of kibbelling (herb battered cod fish). That was a great way to meet locals, understand the culture and practice my Dutch.

Get to know people instead of places

This is the land of my ancestors. Getting to know the locals helps me understand my parents and myself better – the work ethic, the religious fervor, the generosity, and how they dealt with hard times during the second World War and its aftermath. Going for koffie, was a great way to connect with people. Not to mention, the coffee here is always made with an espresso machine, and you always get a little cookie with it. Mmmm!

Go home rested

In a few days I’ll be heading home. Despite the fact that I couldn’t do a lot of work while on holiday, the world and my business did not crumble in my absence.

Is it time you took a holiday?

Let me know in the comments what you’re planning for your next holiday. If you don’t have a holiday planned yet, don’t wait too long.

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