At the risk of sounding obnoxious, we delve into the fundamental differences between travel and vacations. Both involve heading somewhere that's not your usual place, but both are totally different pursuits. What? How? When? Who?
A plush suite? Check. Room service? Check. A beach/pool just meters from your door? Check. Well, that's surely all you need for that next travel trip, eh? Only it's not a travel trip at all, is it? It's a vacation. It's a far cry from the wanderlust we've grown to love and value and prize above all else. And we feel like it's about time we exposed the differences for what they are.
That's not because we're protective of the 'traveler' moniker. Not in the slightest – a big part of our mission is to get more people than ever before interested in hitting the road. It's also not because we hate vacationers. We don't, we love them! (Vacationing is cracking, and we won't hear anyone knock it.).
We're just saying all this because we want to set the record straight on what it means to travel and what it means to vacation. Sometimes the boundaries are blurred, sometimes they are clear as day. Sometimes travelers become vacationers for a day or two, sometimes vacationers transmogrify into backpackers for a moment. We're just here to help you decide when that happens and why. Enjoy…
Travel Is More About The Journey, Not The Destination
“The journey is my home.” - Muriel Rukeyser
So, there you are, patiently waiting in the airport for the departures board to show your gate, thoughts set on just one thing – that pool and villa and relaxing sunbed that awaits on the far side. Chances are your vacationing. How can we tell, you say? Well, it seems as though your pining for the trip to be done and dusted so you can splash in a pool and soak up some rays. That's not too traveler of you, sorry to say it.
A traveler usually exalts in the journey. It's just as much a part of the experience as the destination itself – sometimes even more so. Whether it's an arduous 48-hour bus along the coast of Vietnam or a long-haul hop from NYC to Bangkok, there's something stimulating, exciting, amazing about just moving for the traveler. It's as if by simply leaving home and breaking out from the comfort zone, something primeval, something primordial, has stirred and awakened, some energy has started to flow. You'll know what we mean when you feel it.
Travel Is Life-changing, Vacations Are Breaks From An Unchanged Life
"The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes." – Marcel Proust
Now it might be that you're just looking for an escape from the Rat Race for a week or two. That's cool, we salute you. Go for it. The sugar-white beaches of the Yucatan, perhaps? A seaside pad in the Caribbean maybe? Some villa in the Tuscan hills? You've earned it, after all. Those late-night working sessions, those hard-fought deadline days, those challenging exams – they are stresses that need to be balanced out. What better than a getaway? A break from the life that you'll return to when all's said and done.
That's vacationing. Traveling never promises to leave your old routine intact. In fact, traveling, and a lot of travelers, hit the road precisely because they hope it won't be when they return. That's not necessarily because they hate the rigmarole of the Rat Race (although it could be). It might be to spice things up, to find somewhere new, to do something different – who knows? The point is that traveling CHANGES the way you live, the person you are, the places you are. It works to create a new you, a new life. It doesn't just represent a break from the one you're currently living.
Travelers Celebrate Off The Beaten Track
From Cancun to the Costa del Sol, Tuscany to Hawaiian beaches, vacationers have been staking their claim to global destinations for decades. And while some travelers might long to take them back for the globetrotting lot, there's something to be said for places where good old R&R, deluxe hotels and enticing dining are all part and parcel. For folk who might not have the time to zip up the backpack and go trawling around Southeast Asia for a whole year, they offer a taste of the exotic, the tropical and the different in one nearly packaged place.
Travelers, meanwhile, are the first to crack beers to celebrate more off-the-beaten-path destinations. Forgoing 5-star resorts for a taste of adventure, they are the ones who go camel riding across deserts, hopping night markets in Bangkok, hiking rice paddies in Vietnam, skiing in Krakow, Bulgaria, or Slovakia, temple watching in Bali, surfing in Lombok, island finding in Panama – the list goes on.
Travelers Value Surprises
“I am not the same, having seen the moon shine on the other side of the world.” – Mary Anne Radmacher
So, you've booked that 5-star hotel and the photos make it look amazing. It's got an infinity pool, plush suites and even butler service. Only, when you arrive, there's not a drop in the pool, the butler's nowhere to be seen and the hotel isn't even built yet. Nightmare. Vacationers fear them like they fear having to come home early from their trip. It's understandable, too, who would like that kinda' thing?
Well, travelers, maybe. Part of being on the road is learning to deal with, to thrive on and to even enjoy the curve balls that life throws your way. An unbuilt hotel? No worries, there's a hostel down the way. A cancelled flight? Sweet, it's an unplanned stopover in Istanbul. It comes through in the life of a globetrotter. One place might have swish hotels at the ready, but the next pitstop could be the thing listed right next to "rustic" in the dictionary – if you catch my drift. One night might mean swims in the sloshing Andaman Sea, the next might mean sweaty fights with mozzies in jungle-clad hill towns. There's really no planning this stuff, no matter how hard you try. Surprises are everywhere.
Traveling Is About Immersion, Vacations About Enjoyment
“The gladdest moment in human life, me thinks, is a departure into unknown lands.” – Richard Burton
One easy way of putting it is that vacations are the height of global hedonism. You're essentially going in search of fun somewhere else on the planet. That's awesome. Go for it and we darn well hope you catch some. Traveling is a little different, though. You're not going to be seeking fun so much as something indescribable, something unpalpable, something fleeting and ephemeral.
You're seeking moments like the one when the goose bumps rise on the back of your neck as the sun sets across the Indian Ocean. You're seeking moments like the one when you find a human connection with the tribespeople of Northern Thailand. You're seeking moments like the one when you discover a new taste, a new smell, a new religion that really beats to your rhythm. You're seeking things you're not used to, things you know are out there but can't be gotten easily.
Traveling Is About People, Just As Much As Place
“The more I traveled the more I realized that fear makes strangers of people who should be friends.” – Shirley MacLaine
A vacation plan might be hatched on the attractions of the Costa del Sol – sparkling beaches, sloshing seas, palm-shaded promenades. It might come from a desire to laze on Mexico's tropical sands or ride the rollercoasters of Orlando, witness the Northern Lights or taste the culinary delicacies of Rome. Whatever it is that's got you pining after that next holiday spot, the chances are it wasn't the people.
That's not true of traveling. Culture, creeds, faiths and communities are always central to the traveling mindset. In fact, a great many globetrotters trot the globe precisely because they want to meet people – new people, old people, strange people, cool people, pretty people, welcoming people – wherever it is they go. It's one of the reasons you'll catch travelers with Facebook friends lists or Instagram follower counts that read like a chapter of War and Peace. It's also the reason you'll find so many travelers don't really care about WHERE they are going next but WHO is there and why.
Traveling Is A Lifestyle, Vacationing Adds Style To Life
“I travel a lot; I hate having my life disrupted by routine.” – Caskie Stinnett
There's no getting around the fact that travel has a way of getting under your skin. Some people call it a bug, others call it an obsession. Whatever the best analogy is, the fact remains the same – traveling isn't something you're likely to be able to shake. It's a lifestyle, not an addition to life. Becoming a traveler is right up there with becoming a vegetarian or joining a band. You're not in it for the short haul, at least not usually.
That's not so often the case with vacationers. Many vacationers can hop off to somewhere exotic one year and be content with a simple "staycation" the next. That's all good and well, but it's not the same as being a globetrotter who can't fathom a year which doesn't involve a sailing odyssey through the Greek islands, a jungle hike in Central America, a fiesta in Rio or a Full Moon Party in Thailand involved in the calendar.
If you're reading this, it's likely you're checking if the symptoms of wanderlust you're currently feeling are normal for the world-hungry traveler. They most certainly are! If you'd like to indulge them in the coming year, we'd love to have you on board one of our bucket-list-busting LBW trips. We go from the fabled Land of Smiles to the misty peaks of Vietnam to the shimmering beaches of Costa Rica and loads of places in between. Not a vacation in sight.
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"Rich is a traveler, writer and filmmaker who's always after somewhere new to go. He's been hopping around the globe since 2011, from Poland to Paris, Mumbai to Ho Chi Minh. He runs several travel sites of his own, from Ski Eastern to Live Krakow to Crabs Move Sideways. When he's not planning his next trip, he's usually listening to 50s jazz, surfing in Wales, skiing in the Alps, or just swigging (too much) great craft beer."
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