I first discovered the joys of lying about my ability to access the internet when I went to one of those little cabin places that encourages you to unplug. They suggest that you put your phone in a lock box, and they provide a landline in case you need to call 911. Before I left, I told everybody that I didn’t expect to have internet. Having camped in a lot of out-of-the-way places, I also warned them that I might not have cell coverage at all.
As it turns out, I had at least 4G coverage the whole time. And with my unlimited data plan, that meant I could waste as much time on the internet as I wanted. But it was my vacation, so I was under no obligation to notify anyone of the change in plans. That weekend I called my husband, texted some friends, and posted a few things to Instagram. Everything else was on pause until I got back.
This hack—which I should remind you is not even a lie, just a prediction I had declined to update—helped mainly to relax my own mind. Nobody was expecting me to get in touch, therefore I had no obligation to do so, therefore I could spend an hour watching turtles in the pond. A true vacation.
But there is another use for this little white lie: setting boundaries with people who are bad with boundaries. Ask a Manager recently tweeted a comment from someone whose colleagues will sometimes join Zoom calls from vacation. “This is why, for every vacation for YEARS, I’ve told my coworkers I’m camping. … I have never camped in my LIFE.”
Brilliant, I say. If you think you’ll get pushback for simply saying “I’m not checking email or slack” and turning your notifications off, a low-tech vacation is a good excuse. You don’t even have to pretend you have no internet; just intimate that you expect it to be flaky at best.
I have camped in places with no internet, and it’s a mix of fun and frustrating. You have to remember to download all your maps and important info before you leave home, and then simply make peace with your inability to stay in touch. I would sometimes compose a long text message with all my updates for the day, set it to send as SMS (instead of iMessage), and then stand in the one spot where you can sometimes get a flicker of signal and wave my phone in the air and hope. If we made a run out to the nearest town for groceries, I could sometimes upload an Instagram story from the parking lot.
This is the kind of vacation you are implying you are on. If you are worried you might get caught, just practice saying things like “yeah the internet was really bad, sorry I missed that.” And enjoy your vacation in peace.