My Digital-Free Vacation

The Retiro Maya beach in Tulum, Mexico

“Practice not-doing and everything will fall into place.”
~Lao Tzu

Having a digital break in this society is almost impossible.
With smart phones and wifi everywhere, how can you get away? I recently read Zeenat’s post at Positive Provocations, “Taking a much needed Digital Sabbatical”. I had never thought much about doing this. The post inspired me to take a digital vacation when we recently went to Tulum, Mexico. I still brought my computer and thought that maybe I’d write some post or part of the book I’m working on. And I knew deep down inside I’d still get online, just a little.


Zeenat suggested several things in her post to help create a balance that we all need in life.
I ended up taking several of her suggestions to heart:

• Unplug – I had to. This wonderful place we stayed, Retiro Maya, only had electricity at night. And no wifi. This turned out to be a good thing. I hardly opened my computer except for two times at a coffee place we went to. And guess what? No one missed me and the world didn’t fall apart. How about that? 🙂

John infront of our little cabana that is just to the left.

• Read a new book – I read two books, both historical fiction. I read Caleb’s Crossing by Geraldine Brooks. This novel takes place in Martha’s Vinyard in the mid 1600’s. It’s characters are a Puritan girl and her friend, a Wampanog Native Indian. If you liked The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society then you’ll love The Soldier’s Wife by Margaret LeRoy which also takes place on the English island of Guernsey during World War II. I highly recommend them both!


• Spend quality time with family – This is always the reason we love to travel! But we missed our two oldest children who are working in their college town this summer.

Oliver and I outside the pyramid at Tulum

At Coba's biggest pyramid

At the top of Coba's tallest pyramid

• De-clutter my mind • Take care of me • Relax and breathe
These things all go together for me! When you’re not busy with all of your daily things, like working on the computer, doing laundry, grocery shopping etc., you can truly let go of the chatter in your brain. Remember my post on How To CalmYour Monkey Mind? On day 3 I had no thoughts at all and nothing to say. How zen is that?

This is a Buddha in one of Tulum's many yoga resorts. I was too busy unwinding to do some yoga! 🙂 Next time...

• Dabble my feet in nature – I was thrust into the midst of nature – insects, iguanas, small lizards, the beach, ancient ruins, sunsets and sunrises. I loved every minute of it.

Our Tulum tour guide! Iguanas were everywhere!

I loved the bark of these trees in Coba. Then I noticed this little snail with a yellow shell. Beautiful!

Tulum Sunrise

• I will add the suggestion of how refreshing it is to discover a different culture. I love meeting and observing people. I love drinking new coffee and trying different foods.

This is a little village cafe on the road to Coba where we had empanadas and cokes served right from someone's house. They went to the store to get cheese just for Oliver's quesadilla.

We went to Mateo's everyday for coffee and were served by Molika, a girl from Cambodia who loves Tulum!

The Watermelon man came in his truck with a loud speaker selling his fruit right by the coffee shop.

John's Birthday cerviche at the restaurant at Retiro Maya

• Lastly, all of this gave me a renewed appreciation of everything in my life at home. When I leave on a vacation, I can’t wait to get away from all. Then coming home is so sweet! While I loved the humidity and rain during our trip, it’s blissful to come to Colorado and our beautiful mountains where it’s cool in the evenings and dry most of the summer. Sometimes, we don’t appreciate what we have and take it for granted.

Our backyard sunset

Now I’m ready to get back to my summer’s work, a combination of relaxing, working on my book, running a preschool camp and my garden and well you know all the things I love to do if you read my last post on being a Possibiliterian!

By the way, I highly recommend Zeenat’s blog, Positive Provocations. Positive Provocations is a Self-Improvement, Self-Empowering & Self-Healing Blog. Zeenat writes articles that motivate and inspire you to be the best and happiest you. She is a practicing Counseling Psychologist/ Spiritual Counselor/Motivational Speaker/Naturopath/Holistic Healer/Writer and lives in India with her family.

Thank you, Zeenat, for the inspiration and the quote I used at the top of this post! And thank you to everyone at the Retiro Maya, especially Salvador, for making our trip to Tulum a memorable one!

I’m linking up with Unknown Mami’s photo tour today. Click on the picture below if you’d like to travel the world through photos.

Unknown Mami

** The Zen Papa took several of the above pictures: The coffee shop, the watermelon man, the Tulum ruins beach and the iguana/Tulum ruins shot. Oliver took the one of us in front of the Coba Pyramid.

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54 Responses to My Digital-Free Vacation

  1. Hi Betsy,

    Love the pics. Looks like a great vacation. Thanks for sharing it with us. And, by the way, you were missed!

    [Reply]

    Betsy Reply:

    Thanks Cathy! And thanks for missing me, too! 🙂

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  2. Vidya Sury says:

    What a treat, Betsy. So glad you had such a wonderful time. I love your photo with Oliver – you’re all looking very relaxed and happy. Tulum looks so idyllic!

    Are the iguanas friendly? The photos, especially the treebark/snail is simply gorgeous. Have you uploaded more photos anywhere? I’d love to see!

    I am looking forward to my own digital vacay next week 😀 And I never carry anything digital except my phone. And no, I don’t check email on the phone.

    You’re right about looking forward to going, and then feeling happy coming back – I always experience that with every trip we take. I love that balance of life.

    Thank you for the great start to my day! Love you.

    Hugs, Vidya

    [Reply]

    Betsy Reply:

    Thank you Vidya! We were very relaxed and happy. Except for a few mosquitoes and a little rain, Tulum is an idyllic place. The iguanas are neither friendly or hostile. They just run away when you approach or just lie in the sun. I will upload some more photos and let you know when I post or send them. Now I just need to keep that relaxed and balanced feeling going! Thanks for the wonderful comment. Hugs back to you!

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  3. Molly says:

    I have never been to Mexico but these images are stunning and very alluring, they make we want to travel

    Mollyxxx

    [Reply]

    Betsy Reply:

    Mexico is a beautiful place but it’s been going through some hard times in many touristy areas. This isn’t one of the bad areas, luckily! Thanks for stopping by Molly!

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  4. Carolyn Hughes says:

    What relaxing photos! It really is important to find time to just ‘be’!

    [Reply]

    Betsy Reply:

    It is important to just “be” and I need to remember that now that I’m home!! Thanks, Carolyn, for the comment!

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  5. Keetha says:

    What a delightful vacation. I don’t know which picture drew me in the most.

    Did you use your digital camera, or did you leave that at home too?

    [Reply]

    Betsy Reply:

    You got me Keetha! I didn’t even think about the camera being digital! I never leave my camera. But I did even have some camera free moments on this trip, too. Thanks for the comment!

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  6. Stephany K. says:

    Very zen!
    Very relaxing!
    I’m glad you had such a wonderful time!

    Greetings,
    Stephany

    [Reply]

    Betsy Reply:

    Thank you Stephany! It was very relaxing but interesting visiting all the ruins, too. I could have spent much more time there! Thanks for the comment!

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  7. Tara R. says:

    Your vacation looks and sounds glorious. To truly unwind and unplug sounds like the perfect getaway… it doesn’t hurt that you went to a beautiful location.

    [Reply]

    Betsy Reply:

    Thank you Tara! And you’re right, while it would have been great to unplug anyway, being in a beautiful location was inspiring and an added plus! Thanks for commenting!

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  8. Gorgeous photos, and congratulations it seems you did not suffer one iota from being unplugged. Looks like an idilic little getaway.

    [Reply]

    Betsy Reply:

    Thank you, La Principessa! We all think our regular life will fall apart when we leave town. But life goes on and we are hardly missed. It’s a good lesson. You must get refreshed ocassionally and yes, this was the perfect place for it. Thanks!!

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  9. Terri Sonoda says:

    I enjoyed the photos so much! It made me want to pack my bags and set out for some lovely deserted island. I wish!
    I have taken a sabbatical from the internet and unplugged for a few days. It was good for me and frustrating at the same time. I couldn’t believe how much I missed the whole social networking scene and my online friends! It only lasted two weeks and I caved in and came back. However, I did so with renewed energy and a more appreciative perspective.
    Thanks for sharing! Very enjoyable!
    Terri

    [Reply]

    Betsy Reply:

    I hear you about missing the online life we’ve made for ourselves. If someone would have told me that four years ago when I first started, I never would have believed it!! The unplugging also taught me that I need to do a little more of that at home, too. Retiro Maya was a little like being on a deserted island but outside out of it was so much culture in the little town of Tulum and other places we visiting. Then just north nearer to Cancun are all the all-inclusive, gigantic 4 star places that we tend to stay away from.

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  10. SomeGirl says:

    Looks like a wonderful vacation and sounds like it was so relaxing! Loved seeing your pictures… thanks for sharing them with us!

    [Reply]

    Betsy Reply:

    Michelle,
    It was a great vacation and so very relaxing! I love to show you my pictures. I have a new camera (DSL) now. I need to take your course again!!

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  11. Fantastic pictures. Love the watermelon shot. I agree about disconnecting from the digital universe. I stayed in a place without internet connection while visiting recently in Louisiana. I found time to connect with myself and God because there was less distractions. Now, I have to keep that mindset now that I am back in my home surroundings.

    [Reply]

    Betsy Reply:

    That is one of the most difficult things, to keep the vacation mindset once you return home. It was amazing what thoughts came to mind with no computer around me. I need to have a day off several times a week, I think. We’ll see… Thanks for your comment Laurie!

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  12. Darling Betsy,

    What a blissful digital free time you’ve had. I’m beyond the moon that my suggestions worked out well for this Digital sabbatical 🙂

    Please convey my regards to Zen Papa…cause truly the pictures are telling a story all their own …. So much love in the vision.

    I am going to take your suggestions here and dig into the books you started during this break.

    Thank you for mentioning me so lovingly here. I so appreciate it and YOU!

    Lots of love and gratitude,
    Z~

    [Reply]

    Betsy Reply:

    Zeenat! Thank you! You really got me thinking when I read your post! I’m sure I could link to you each week as you have such inspiring things to tell the world. With gratitude back to you! Betsy

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  13. I can so relate Betsy! Every year I go on a girl trip and we do the same thing. At first, one wonders HOW you can go a full week (or whatever time you have) unplugged. But it’s the best of the best. To me, it seems that time slows down and that is a gift.
    I don’t know if you’ve read my latest post but my 21 year old daughter left for a two month internship in the mountains of Papigo, Greece. She took her laptop so we could Skype but we’re now discovering that communication will be tough. She’s WAY up in the mountains and must go outside for a connection. It’s an interesting story, make sure you stop by and check it out. Being a mom, you will soooo relate. It’s been a tough three days . . . only 7 1/2 weeks to go!

    [Reply]

    Betsy Reply:

    I remember reading about a trip you took to the Caribbean, wasn’t it? I did you read your post. What a time you’ve been through. Our children have traveled away a lot in their young lives. It’s the not knowing that gets to you, doesn’t it? Thanks so much for your comment!!

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  14. Elle says:

    It looks idyllic Betsy. As an aspiring photographer (very aspiring) I love the pics. And naturally you reached the place of no thoughts – you are the Zen-mama after all – so no surprise to me.

    Super uplifting post. Thank you.

    Elle
    xoxo

    [Reply]

    Betsy Reply:

    It is idyllic except for a few too many mosquitoes and some rain. While I aspire to be the Zen Mama, I don’t always get there! I sure did on this trip! So glad you enjoyed!! Thanks for the comment! xoxo

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  15. Nita says:

    So very beautiful! Balance is so important and unplugging is a great way to gain that balance. Although I am not so certain I would like to spend much time with that iguana! 😀
    Enjoy your week.

    [Reply]

    Betsy Reply:

    Thank you Nita! That iguana was so funny! My husband took that shot and I can’t believe he actually got the mouth being open! They open and close so quickly. Thanks for your comment!

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  16. Betsy,
    OMG you remind me of everything I love about Mexico! I majored in Spanish and when my girls were in their late teens my mom moved in our home for 3 months and I did an internship in Guadalajara for three months…volunteered in an orphanage, took classes and had a blast. Hubs and friends visited for a couple of weeks. Love love love the photos!!!

    [Reply]

    Betsy Reply:

    Wow! Isn’t that great you got to go when you still had children at home. Your mom is wonderful! We went to Guadalajara a few months ago and loved it. We spent quite a bit of time in Talaquepaque, the artist’s community. So glad you loved seeing the photos! Thanks for the comment, Tess!

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  17. Wayne says:

    A nice set of pictures but an even better sentiment behind them.

    [Reply]

    Betsy Reply:

    Thank you Wayne! So glad you left a comment!!

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  18. Fran Sorin says:

    Betsy…..WHOA….you’re making my mouth water. What beautiful nature you were ensconced in. And I love iguanas.

    I’m happy that you allowed yourself the time off. It’s critical on so many levels. First, just to recharge and nurture yourself. Second, to be present with your family and the awesomeness of where you are.

    Unless you are extremely disciplined, social media can make a big dent in your life. It is something that all of us can work on….xxoo-Fran

    [Reply]

    Betsy Reply:

    Thank you Fran! It was so beautiful and we were definitely at one with nature! You had a wonderful time off as well. I would love to hear your thoughts as well. It was so necessary and I hope I’m able to bring some of the un-charging back home with me. I need to work on that! Thanks Fran! It’s nice to see your name in the comments!!

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  19. Christie says:

    What great suggestions. It looks and sounds like you have a wonderful vacation.

    [Reply]

    Betsy Reply:

    Thank you Christie! It was amazing and a much needed break! Thanks for your comment.

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  20. Galen Pearl says:

    How lovely! I have spent a few vacations at places like that. Everything slows down. Now when I want to unplug, I go up to my cabin–no internet, cable, or phone service there. In fact, I’m going up this weekend. So glad y’all had a great vacation.

    [Reply]

    Betsy Reply:

    It was lovely Galen! Life slowed way down! How wonderful that you have a cabin to escape to more often than just every now and then. I hope to keep some of that slowness with me now that we’re home. Have a wonderful time this weekend! (Or maybe it was last weekend!) Thanks for the comment.

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  21. Love this! The pictures brought me back to the month and a half I spent in Costa Rica – a time I’ll cherish forever. I stayed at a tent camp like where you stayed where they only turned on the generator a few hours each day.

    I think we all desperately need a digital break on a regular basis. On Saturday’s around 5pm I put my laptop away (out of sight, out of mind) and don’t pull it back out until later Monday morning. I can feel an internal level of stress disappear when I close my computer and remove it from the room.

    Betsy – Thanks for promoting the idea of the digital vacation! It helps to bring some sanity, balance and mindfulness back into our crazy lives.

    [Reply]

    Betsy Reply:

    It’s not unlike Costa Rica! A month and 1/2 would actually be wonderful. What were you doing there? I like your idea of taking a weekend day off. And of course Sunday makes a lot of sense. I remember a post you had a few month back where you talked about not checking the internet (email, social media etc…) until after you had a done the important things and writing. I’m going to remind myself of that in the mornings again. Thanks for the comment.

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  22. Dear Betsy,
    I could swear I left a comment here yesterday?
    I must be soo busy that I need one of those “digital free” vacations.
    I’m so inspired by your story and the lovely photos – that I feel I will be taking a nice internet free vaca very soon.
    Thank you for pointing the way and to Zeenat for inspiring you!

    [Reply]

    Betsy Reply:

    Hi Angela, Maybe it’s in my spam comments for some reason. I think you’d enjoy a digital vacation! You’ve had a very busy spring. Yes, Zeenat really inspired me! I may have done it anyway but not as deliberately and mindfully, the way she suggested. Thanks for the comment.

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  23. Unknown Mami says:

    Stunning gorgeous photographs. The trip sounds like it was so restorative. I love your thoughts.

    [Reply]

    Betsy Reply:

    Thank you! It was just that… restorative. Glad the thoughts resonated. Thanks for the comment!!

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  24. I can’t believe you got to no thoughts and nothing to say in three days. Wow! Of course, Zen isn’t about having no thoughts, but settling the mind is an essential step in meditation. Loved the beautiful photos, which reminded me that I live in paradise! So happy you were able to immerse yourself in such beauty, relaxation, and quality time with your family.

    [Reply]

    Betsy Reply:

    I felt a little boring, not having anything to say! 🙂 I very rarely have a settled mind. I’m always thinking of new ideas and the future. So it was wonderful to be so totally in the moment! Thank you, Sandra, for your beautiful comments.

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  25. What an awesome trip – the pictures are amazing, Betsy! So glad you got to do it. I have to admit I felt a twinge of sadness for you when i saw only one of your son’s with you this year! Life goes on, right?

    [Reply]

    Betsy Reply:

    Thanks Missy! And yes, we all missed the two older boys. They missed coming! But life does go on! They are loving being independent at their college town, not having to keep their rooms cleans and do chores at home. And then when we do get together, it’s much sweeter and they appreciate their parents and home like they never have before. Amazing!

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  26. sheila says:

    wow.
    I actually got really relaxed just looking at this post.
    I would really love to go here. I mean, seriously.
    Also, can I borrow your iquanna pic? I have the perfect quote to go with it. I’ll put you and your page on it as a credit!!! Let me know 🙂

    [Reply]

    Betsy Reply:

    It was so relaxing! And Yes! You can borrow the iguana shot. I’ll email it to you!

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  27. What beautiful pictures! Just amazing! I can’t even imagine being there! So…when does your 3rd book come out and what is it about? I can’t wait to grab my copy! Exciting!

    [Reply]

    Betsy Reply:

    Thanks Julie! Hopefully the book will be ready for the end of summer. Don’t worry! I’ll let you know!! 🙂

    [Reply]

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