Take advantage of time off

Published 3:43 am Sunday, June 22, 2014

Last week I was fortunate enough to do something that I haven’t done in probably close to 10 years.

I spent a week at the beach.

Growing up in North Carolina, my family took a beach vacation nearly every year. But since entering college, graduating and moving away from home, I never made the time to go.

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Living relatively close to the Outer Banks and Myrtle Beach, S.C., I suppose I took it for granted that I could just pack up and go away for a weekend at the coast anytime I wanted with little thought of a long drive.

Now, living in a landlocked state, sandy beaches and ocean waves never seemed so far away.

My best friend invited me to travel with her family to Garden City, S.C., last week and it was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up and, one that I’m glad I didn’t.

Garden City is just below Myrtle so it isn’t quite as crowded and touristy, but there is still plenty to do within walking distance or a short drive. But the consensus of most everyone who went on the trip was a focus on relaxation.

Relaxing has never been my forte. I constantly have a breaking news-style ticker scrolling in my mind that acts as a constant to-do list and reminders of everything that stresses me out.

So I was determined to make the most of a rare opportunity for a real vacation away from work, home and stress.

I was surprised at just how much I managed to succeed.

I am not a morning person. I’ve never been a morning person and I don’t expect I ever will be. But something about spending a day in the sand and surf without worrying about deadlines and emails made each morning after so much better.

This is the time of year when families are packing up and heading to the coast or mountain resorts, theme parks and other tourist destinations.

Some people have no problem leaving the daily grind behind and they won’t give work a second thought while they are gone.

If you’re like me, it takes a little more effort and planning. So if you are like me and need a little help, here is the biggest yet easiest you can do to prevent you from ruining your relaxation time.

Leave the cell phones and computers behind.

I know that’s a ridiculous thing to say in 2014. I don’t expect anyone to leave their phone at home while they go on vacation. I didn’t either. Just leave it in your hotel room or turn it off so it can’t be easily checked every few minutes. We already miss enough of the world around us because we stare at those tiny screens all day.

I dedicated a time each evening to check my email for the purposes of forwarding things along that were to important to wait for me to get back to work.

Not everyone can go a week without checking in with the real world. Some can’t even go 24 hours. But if you set aside a specific time, you won’t have to worry about it all day long.

After all, family vacations are about spending time with family. Not spending time with the Internet.

If you can take just that one little piece of advice on your next trip, I promise it will be well worth it.


Michelle Goodman is the news editor at The Tribune. To reach her, call 740-532-1441 ext. 12 or by email at michelle.goodman@irontontribune.com.