The Great Holiday Phone Debate


According to - depressing- research from Travel Republic, more than half of us Brits will check our emails while we're on holiday. It's a wonderful notion to leave the phone locked inside the hotel safe, but in this world of constant technological communication, is it realistic, or indeed advisable, to completely switch off? We asked two Step Up members, Charlotte Philby, columnist at The Independent and editor of and Carolyn Asome, freelance fashion journalist, for their options. TO PHONE - Carolyn Asome

Switch off my phone for two weeks while on holiday? Why on earth would I want to do that? I am the person who constantly checked her phone during a mindfulness retreat. Hell, I am the person who was emailing her editor 45 minutes after pushing out my second baby.

Which I suppose is a bit odd. You see, I don't suffer from FOMO and I am useless on social media (I keep forgetting to check). But the idea of not logging into a growing stream of emails makes me feel tetchy.

It's habit, but I like to attack them little and often. Possibly this is because I'm a bit anal. For ten minutes of housekeeping a day, I know I wont be struggling to answer 2000 emails on my return while I strive to keep that holiday glow. Let's face it: those emails will have to be dealt with at some point.

I might not look at my phone for 8 hours but I will at some stage in the day. I am also quite a curious person (okay then, nosey) and I like to know what is going on. That doesn't feel like work, or a chore or stressful. And I'd far rather know than not know. It helps a bit that my husband does the same.

Perhaps it is because I worked on a newspaper for many years and needed to be contactable in case a news story broke. Except now that I have gone freelance, I like to stay in touch in case I'm offered a juicy commission.

Not that I can't be strict. As a full time working mum, I've become much better at not tiptoeing back to steal a glance at my laptop when I'm with the kids. I'm not surgically attached to one, checking my phone is not like some sort of nervous life tic. That I only ever had one email address (for work and personal emails) is another reason but really, it boils down to the fact that I just like to keep in touch.

TO NOT PHONE - Charlotte Philby

Given how much of my mental space in every day life is consumed by work and everything that goes with it - the emails, the social media, the phone calls... - going on holiday is a rare opportunity to properly reset.

I go away for work a lot and obviously on those kind of breaks I'm constantly online. But on those more rare family holidays, which are all about taking time together - not just away from the usual routine but away from the constant distractions of our daily lives, to enable proper quality time - turning on my out of office and switching off my emails is a must.

On every other day, I'm glued to my phone. It sucks but it's true. Like most working mums running their own business between short bursts of childcare, I have to be. Being in contact on the go enables me to have a job that is more flexible in ways that accommodate family life, making it possible to spend time with my kids and be there, physically, for the most part. But mentally, it's a constant battle between one world and another in my head, and my kids are so attuned to that.

Often they're battling for my attention while I'm tapping away on my phone and batting them away with my other hand, and that's not great for anyone. So when we get those rare moments when it's just us taking time away together as a family, I need to focus my mental space fully on then. And that means leaving the smart phone at the hotel.