How I Spent My Summer Vacation: Plugged In and Tuned Out

By Jonathan Spira on 1 September 2011
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Many Executive Road Warrior magazine readers travel frequently and I am no exception.  In the past three months, I’ve flown roughly 25,000 miles (40,000 km) and made several extended trips by car.  Most of my travel is business travel (even though I always try to squeeze in a day or so in the area I‘m in to do something interesting) so a vacation is then a time to unplug and relax, right?

A recent holiday left me in a quandary.  The concept of my trip was simple: fly to Stuttgart, take European Delivery of a Mercedes-Benz E350 BlueTec diesel-powered sedan, and drive it in a northerly direction to the Nordsee (North Sea).

But should I unplug?  Or should I spend a week of my time in Germany and the Netherlands plugged in to the hilt?  Or, perhaps this trip was a chance to attempt to actually strike a balance and not veer to either extreme.

As much as possible, I wanted to explore places I had never visited before.  From Stuttgart (my first visit), I planned a drive to Maastricht (also a place I had never experienced but one my mother highly recommended), then Köln (Cologne) in Germany (I hadn’t been there for almost 20 years), then to Arnhem in the Netherlands (another city I had never visited), and on to Bremen and Bremerhaven, the latter being the port city from which my car would be shipped to the States.

Early August turned out to be an excellent time to go.  While many Europeans also go on holiday in August, there were no crowds in evidence and little traffic on the Autobahnen and snelwegen except for the first day of driving, but that was a Friday afternoon in August after all.

But I digress.

Since a good part of my workday is spent in front of a computer of some kind, should I not unplug from all that?  After careful consideration, I decided that this would be akin to throwing away the eBaby with the bathwater.  After all, travelers of an earlier age would have taken countless books, guides, maps, and brochures with them.  I, on the other hand, was travelling light.  I had my iPad tablet and even brought along a portable Wi-Fi hotspot to ensure coverage everywhere.  The challenge would be to not let that connectivity pull me into excessive working or mindless information consumption.

But to what end?

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