Keeping Your Holidays Jolly by Esther Orridge

I don’t know about you but I LOVE going on holiday – especially with my husband, family and friends (not necessarily all at the same time though!) Whether it’s a short break in the UK or a longer holiday abroad, what I like most is being able to switch off and leave my responsibilities behind. The older you get, the busier life becomes and the more responsible you have to be. Your mind can soon be overflowing with various things (too many to list) and before you know it, stress can take over! Sometimes, we just need a break to realign and recharge.

Social Progress - Digital Safety on Holiday

2 years ago I’d have said my perfect idea of a holiday would we be by a pool or on the beach basking in the glorious Mexican sunshine – the same place my husband and I went on honeymoon. However last year we went skiing with some friends and although I wasn’t thrilled with the idea at first, I thoroughly enjoyed it! So much so that all I wanted for Christmas were Chill Factore vouchers, so I can get back on a slope in the New Year!! Being able to get yourself safely down a mountain is a pretty big deal in my eyes – have you experienced the adrenalin rush and sense of achievement before? An indoor slope seems too small once you’ve conquered the size of a natural one…

Social Progress - Digital Safety on Holiday

Now, what does skiing or a sunny holiday have to do with Social Progress or social media? Well, to Janet’s relief, I’ve just returned from a wonderful holiday in Mexico with my husband (the same place we went on honeymoon – highly recommended!) and I wanted to share a few tips about how people can get sucked into a false sense of security with their social media when on holiday.

I’d like to tell you a [theoretical] story to get you thinking:

Packed – check
Passport – check
Tickets – check
Currency – check
Change of clothes – check
Excited? – YES!!
Let’s go….

You say goodbye to your usual life and set off, leaving town, for an amazing long or short break. You post a status at the airport stating where you’re “travelling to” and tag your travel buddy too. This is the start of the multitude of #selfies you take to record your holiday. Down come the walls of precaution and up goes the excitement of the adventure!

You can’t wait to post photos to make your Facebook friends, Twitter followers and of course your Instagram buddies envious of your location. Bring on the gorgeous landscapes, #FoodSelfies and Cocktail photos keeping your online community updated each day. Oh and you tag or socially ‘check-in’ the hotel too, as well as using their hashtags (or make up your own).

After an amazing holiday you pack up and make the journey home to reality. The silver lining of returning home is to be reunited with loved ones and you focus on the fact it’s always great to be back in your own bed again.

There’s no place like home sweet home. Pulling up outside your house, relief floods you as you realise the journey is finally over. Getting out the car you make your way to the front door and let yourself in. Looking up you see a mess. A very, very big mess. The house has been completely trashed, photos smashed and the TV is gone. Walking around in a bubble you can’t quite register what’s going on.

How have they got in?
What else have they taken?
Why have they made such a mess?
When did it happen?
Why us?

After the police are called and an investigation completed, they catch the thief and who is found guilty and charged. When questioned the thief is asked “why did you break in and steal from their house?” Their reply is simple:

“Their personal life is all over the internet for all to see. I just watched in silence and waited for them to tell me more information. I knew all about when they were going away, where they were going, how long they’d be away and I could see what they were getting up to whilst they were away – to make sure they didn’t come back early! All I had to do was watch the house for a few days to see whether they’d asked anyone to pop in whilst they were away – which they clearly hadn’t. No-one turned up. It was totally empty. It was the perfect opportunity to break in.”

Social Progress - Digital Safety on Holiday

As I said, my husband and I have just come back from our second trip to sunny Mexico. We were away 10 nights and had been looking forward to the holiday since January – we’d been waiting almost a year to fly away together. Most of our family and friends knew we were going away but I didn’t post it on any of my social media accounts (or Social Progress) leading up to the holiday and I posted very little about it whilst we were actually away. I am guilty of taking multiple cocktail photos, #FoodSelfies and photos of landscapes but I resisted making them public right then and there. Why?

Here’s a few tips from us for when you go on your jolly holiday:

  1. Don’t broadcast your plans publicly leading up to your holiday
  2. Ask someone to house-sit or at least pop in to check on your house so it’s not left alone
  3. Wait until you return home to upload your holiday snaps – then tag people, #hashtag and add locations to your hearts content
  4. Ask people not to tag you in their holiday snaps (or talk about you being away online) until you’re home again

Whilst we were away my husband, who hardly puts anything personal on his social media accounts, decided to do a couple of posts – this seemed pretty ironic too me as I’m supposed to be the social media bod! His status was along the lines of; “at Manchester Airport, flying to Cancun, Mexico. Goodbye rain, hello sunshine. – with Esther Orridge.” He also posted a photo on our 5 year anniversary which consisted of a few holiday snaps of us both clearly in a hot country celebrating the occasion. The only reason I didn’t object to him posting these was because we’d asked friends to keep an eye out on our house and gave them my key. I knew our house was being looked after. But I still chose not to post it on my own social media – yes I “liked” them but I kept my travelling activities to a minimum whilst actually away from home.

Social Progress - Digital Safety on Holiday

On our second to last night on holiday, there was a promotional event on the beach at the hotel. Complimentary wine and gourmet cooked steak was provided for us – awesome! They had a video and social media person there and we got snapped! This was the evening I struggled the most NOT to post anything on social media – especially as they had an official hashtag! I caved and did retweet their posts from my @SoProEsther account but kept it to a minimum. I didn’t want to miss out on the opportunity!

You may think I’m overreacting and I agree that all 4 steps may be a bit much or over the top. But do consider your online safety and understand the dangers. Social media can be awesome but it can also be a snare! Be careful how you use it, honour others privacy and be respectful. You never know who’s watching your online activity..!

Keep your holidays happy 🙂

Social Progress - Digital Safety on Holiday

I had to include this photo – can you tell Janet is glad I’m back?