How to vacation like a nerd

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We’re in the height of vacation season, and I’m heading out next week for some much needed R&R. So how does a nerd manage technology on vacation? Do we spend the whole time staring at our iPad/Laptop/Phone? No way.

The techie vacation

First of all, we really try to make sure all loose ends are wrapped up before we go, because nobody wants to try to do a site launch or product support project from a remote connection. That’s probably the most important step.

Second, we ensure constant Internet connectivity. My family stays in locations that have Wi-Fi, and I have a hotspot from my phone, as does my husband. With this triple redundancy, we are clear to go out of town. (I tried a trip without my own Internet connection and spent the whole time in a coffee shop. Vacation fail.)

Selecting vacation devices

I’ve been looking for the ultimate vacation computing device for years now, and I still haven’t found one. I had high hopes for tablets, but they don’t manage files well enough or run the right kind of PC software to be useful. So, when I’m on the road, 90 percent of my workload management is done by iPhone (ie: answering emails). However, if I need to get into a program or do actual work I need a real computer, so I bring a cheap, wimpy HP laptop. And no, I’d never take my “good” computers on vacation. I can’t afford to have them fall out of the car or short out from a cup of coffee spilled across the keyboard.

I use the laptop to login to the more powerful machines in my office — is my favorite software for remoting into my own machines, while TeamViewer is my software of choice for logging into clients’ machines.

Work schedule on vacation

So should I work on vacation? No. Do I try to avoid it if at all possible? Yes. However, some things are simply too critical to ignore for a week (at least in my business) so I have a reasonable compromise with my family: I am allowed to get up early and login until my family wakes up. Sometimes my husband joins me for a little “officing” before our son wakes up.

We check email, respond to critical issues as much as we can, and try to stabilize anything that looks like trouble. Then we tell everyone we are on vacation and head out for the day. Yes, the phone is there, but we try not to look at it. My husband is allowed to tell me to put it away and vice versa.

After we put our son to bed, we take one more hour to wrap up what may have happened during the day, and then we drift off to sleep. It’s a different world, but I suspect it’s here to stay.

Marci De Vries is president of MDV Interactive, a web consulting firm in Baltimore. Reach her at