7 Steps to Unplug During Any Getaway

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Here's how to escape from the tyranny of electronic gadgets--no matter where you go on vacation.

1. Tell your coworkers not to call you unless there's a hostage situation. The more memorable your message, the more likely you'll be left alone.

2. Rent a cell phone that makes it difficult to send e-mail. For domestic trips, Virgin Mobile sells prepaid phones for as little as $15 at Target stores and elsewhere. (Note: Virgin's phones come with mobile Web access. If that bothers you, then you'll have to ask them to turn it off when you call customer service to activate the phone.)

3. Give your hotel's name and number to a only one colleague. If any other co-worker needs to reach you, your point person can decide whether it's warranted to reveal your whereabouts.

4. If you're a solo traveler, you may need to make an extra effort to unplug from Blackberry-based social interaction. You should consider staying at hotels that are known to offer participatory activities. For example, many Kimpton and Omni hotels frequently host wine tastings.

5. Set limits. If colleagues won't let you "unplug," agree on a set time each day when you'll respond to queries. At all other times, screen for four-alarm emergencies but resist the temptation to respond to minor matters, advises NFI Research CEO Chuck Martin

6. Be wary of checklists. Whenever you make a checklist of attractions to see, you risk treating your vacation as if it's work. Consider building "free time" into your planned itinerary for spontaneous strolls and similar adventures.

7. Make an "unpacking" list before you go. In his book Work to Live, Joe Robinson offers the following tip: "Put together a list of the stuff that has no business going with you: work worries, the boss, colleagues, career progress, laptops, pagers, cell phones."

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