Ask yourself: Are you really vacationing when you vacation?
Hotel makes quiet zones Live that beautiful moment
Gab, gab, gab. Type, type, type. Tweet, tweet, tweet.
And, waitress, can you get me a Mai Tai?
Increasingly, Americans are not truly vacationing when they go on vacation.
We leave home -- and sometimes spend thousands of dollars for a week or longer in a beautiful spot -- but are tethered by so much technology we never achieve true relaxation.
We might as well remain in our basements, glazed eyes glued to the iPad, which shines just like the Florida sun on our pale faces.
As we head into winter vacation season, I am begging you, control your electronic usage. Either leave everything at home, or give yourself a one-hour window per day to go online and see what disasters you've left back home.
You cannot possibly live in the moment or have an original thought if you are spending every second photographing yourself and tweeting or posting about how you feel.
In fact, the most annoying tweets in the world are from travelers: "At Miami airport checking luggage." Who cares? Go live your life.
To counteract this irritating development, a division of Marriott International has come up with a new idea -- "Braincation" zones at nine of its most beautiful Marriott and Renaissance Resorts in the Caribbean and Mexico. These public zones are off-limits to cell phones, iPads and laptops.
"Some of the zones are on the beach, some are on the patio, one is on a fourth-floor common area, but all are in picturesque places that can be blocked off for quiet time," says spokeswoman Christa Romano.
The digital detox zones are available at Marriott Resorts in Aruba, St. Kitts, Grand Cayman and Curacao, the JW Marriott in Cancun, Casa Magna resorts in Cancun and Puerto Vallarta, the Renaissance Aruba and Frenchman's Reef in St. Thomas.
It's not a social experiment by Marriott but a smart marketing response to a survey it did of 1,000 travelers.
The survey revealed that 85 percent of vacationers had been annoyed by someone talking loudly on a cell phone; 36 percent check their email even on the beach; 89 percent check email and voice mail at least once a day (often multiple times), and 66 percent uploaded photos of themselves to social media sites while on vacation.
To me, these statistics confirm that electronics are controlling us now; we don't control them. We can never get away. We're trapped. We're on even when we're supposed to be off.
To me, it's like shallowly planted trees that never get a soothing rain. We are wilting.
Before you go on your winter vacation, ponder these questions.
lIf you do not live in the moment, where are you, really?
lIs taking and posting endless photos from vacation an anxiety response, a way to remember the vacation when we get home because we weren't present for it while we were there?
lIs tweeting or posting photos from vacation spots a form of bragging? If you couldn't post, would it diminish your enjoyment of the trip?
lWhy are you checking in with your office? Don't they give you vacation time? Are you afraid of losing your job?
lIf we can't bear to miss our neighbor's Facebook posts about her pedicure, shouldn't we just stay home?
For me, being unavailable is one of the very, very best things about traveling. You shouldn't have to share every moment of your trip to enjoy it.
So my advice when you take your winter holidays: Set up your own "braincation" zone.
And please, don't tweet or post a picture of it.
Ellen Creager is the Travel Writer for the Detroit Free Press.