Travel vs Vacation

From the archives: Drafted September, 2017

I was recently talking to a friend of mine about when her parents came to visit her in Brazil. She has been living in Rio for the last couple years and when they had a chance to visit her community and her home, she talked about how they were busy going from place to place. This gave me a sneak peek of what is going to happen when one of my best friends and my sister come down to visit in a little over a month!

There will be a lot of traveling to and from tourist locations, red eyes from sleepless nights spent on buses and planes, two countries (and a layover in D.C. WOO!), and plenty of time to get frustrated and hate on each other a little bit. But I think back on my friend’s comment that she made:

“They aren’t here on vacation. They are travelling.”

-roughly paraphrased from a deep bus conversation

Vacation vs Travel.

I often come back from a journey, exhausted, thankful that I have someone to welcome me home and feed me, someone to help me do my laundry or that has patience while I don’t unpack for far too long. My head aches with dehydration from long plane rides, my heart is torn from loving so many places, cultures, and people, and my eyes close as I struggle to eat any food heavier than a soup and salad. (My travel stomach has never been the best.)

I’ve spent all of these years traveling and very little on vacation. That’s what I came to realize at least. The cultural challenges of not being surrounded by your first language, the busy days spent running from museum to restaurant to museum, the late nights taking in what each new place has to offer…it is all travel.

While vacation is relaxing time off and great for the body and soul.

Travel may just be good for the soul.

Travel is full of exploration, wonder, and the enlightenment that only riding local buses and buying from street vendors can bring forth.

Travel is aching bodies from hiking up mountains, walking across towns, or climbing flights of stairs.

Travel is red eyes that are so tired you have a week of “glasses-only” days, because every minute has been packed with journeying around a new place.

Travel is getting lost and frantically freaking out as you realize that someone has taken your cellphone and you have no money for a cab.

Travel is exhausting, brilliant, and life-giving.

Vacation is life-giving too, but in a very different way.

Vacation is relaxing next to a fireplace, reading a book, and losing track of time because there is nowhere to be.

Vacation is guilt-free. There is no missing out, there is no rushed schedule.

Vacation is drinks by the pool or sitting in the shade on a beach as the salty air blows across your skin.

Vacation is sleeping in and staying up late with good conversations and laughter, it is no place to be and no time to get there, it is pure recharging.

Even over two years later, I still feel the same about vacation and travel. Neither is better than the other and both are necessary in my life…although my need to do everything and miss nothing tends to more traveling than vacationing, but I’m working on adding some vacation time in.