A Trip Isn’t Necessarily a Vacation

A friend of mine is taking a trip to visit his family on the East Coast, and he was mentioning to me that as much as he wants to see his family, he isn’t as excited about it as he thinks he should be. He has been pretty exhausted at work, and needs a break, so he doesn’t understand his lack of enthusiasm, in this opportunity to get away. 

I explained to him what I think is going on, and I see it a lot. He is taking a trip, but this trip isn’t a vacation, and there is a huge difference between the two. A vacation is when you get to do what you want, where you want to do it, and when. For the most part, if you don’t want to do something during your vacation, you simply don’t do it. 

A trip to visit family Includes all kinds of expectations, commitments, and for some of us stresses with family dynamics. Also, many times when we take trips to visit family, our sleeping accommodations are on a couch, or on a weird bed.  We share bathrooms etc. When most of us take a trip like this to visit family, we don’t stay at fancy hotels.

If you are one of those people who uses trips to visit family as your vacation, this potentially may not give you the relaxation and recharging that your body and mind desire. 

For instance, when I go home to visit family, I enjoy seeing everyone and reconnecting, but I rarely feel re-energized by the end.  I stay in a little room in my brother’s house, which is next to the room of my teenage nephew who is up until 3 AM every night doing loud teenager stuff.  Myself and said teenager share a bathroom which also has its own special challenges, such as the fact that our standards for cleanliness are a bit different.

So, on these trips to visit family, I often find myself not as well-rested, which creates a perfect storm of tension as I listen to the challenging opinions and comments of my conservative in-laws. 

I am definitely not suggesting that you never take trips to visit family. Quite the contrary, as this kind of reconnecting is incredibly important.  But make sure you balance this will full-fledged vacations as well.

Even for me, I realized recently that I had lost sight of this.  I take people on vacations for a living, but escorting a group on their vacation is not the same thing as me being on vacation. I recently took my own vacation with friends to the Greek Isles, and this concept of trip versus vacation stared me in the face the entire time I was there. I realized that this is kind of the first vacation that I have had in years. I did exactly what I said above: I woke up when I wanted, went where I wanted, and pretty much did whatever I wanted to do, without being responsible for anyone else, their desires, or their expectations. It was my own vacation, not a trip.

One would think I would have been more sensitive to my own needs in this area, since I see firsthand the reason for taking vacations all the time. I watch my travelers enter their vacation looking and feeling one way, and leaving the vacation with a freshness and new zest for life, including the things waiting for them back home. 

Not only are our batteries recharged on vacation, but our minds are also stimulated, and we are able to break the mold, and shift our energy. We literally get a break from our responsibilities and reconnect with ourselves. It is pretty powerful stuff.  

While I am not a doctor nor scientist, my professional suggestion is that people are at their best when they have at least two vacations per year, even if one of them is just a weekend getaway. The key is to acknowledge the difference between a trip and vacation and to make sure that you are not merely replacing one kind of stress, commitment, and responsibility for another. 

If you still don’t know what I’m talking about, I highly suggest you listen to Madonna’s “Holiday.” She sums it up pretty well. 

If we took a holiday

Took some time to celebrate

Just one day out of life

It would be, it would be so nice