Although it may not seem like it at first, and you may be inclined to disagree, there is a difference between traveling and vacationing.
Traveling should be a journey. There may or may not be a “purpose” to it–but that doesn’t matter. When you’re traveling, you see sights, experience a culture, try new food, and immerse yourself in the lifestyle of the region you’re in, and then pack it up and move to the next destination. But there may not be a destination at all–if you’re traveling, perhaps you hop aboard a train, bus or book a flight on a whim and embark on a journey of discovery.
Vacationing, on the other hand, is less about discovery and more about regiment. The word vacation in itself will carry with it varying definitions depending entirely on where you are in your life. If you have children, a vacation could mean a stress-filled trip to Disney World. It could mean emptying your wallet for a trip that you may not be wholly interested in taking at all. But it can be beneficial, too, as the word carries with it a sense of time off of work and relaxation.
Perhaps the biggest differentiator between the two is the timing and duration. Vacations are often planned. They’re regimented and time-constrained, while those who have the ability to travel regularly may be able to explore the globe at their whim. Maybe they travel for business or travel for pleasure, but regular travel can open you to worlds that you never even knew existed.
There is a certain amount of pressure on people when they say they’re taking a vacation. Society tells us that we have to have a good–no a great–time. If a vacation only went okay, maybe you didn’t do that much, something inside of us tells us that that vacation was a failure. We go on vacations with the intention of relaxing, but sometimes the pressure and stress that comes with taking a vacation takes away from the overall joy we get from it!
Regular travel not only allows for relaxing, it invites it. If travel becomes a regular (or even somewhat common) occurrence in your life, the pressure to have a great time every instance that you leave your house is alleviated. Travel should be about doing what you want to do, when you want to do it.
Exploring new worlds and opening yourself to the culture and geography of a new place can actually have benefits on your mental health as well. Research has shown that the risk of dementia is lessened in those who travel. Broadening our view of the world can also keep us mentally sharp, as forming new social and environmental bonds, as well as learning and exploring new areas can help keep our brains at the top of their game.
For some, traveling should be purely relaxing–lounging on the beach, leisurely floating in a pool near your hotel or sleeping in every morning. However many people who travel regularly like to get out and stay active, whether it’s exploring on foot, going for a hike or trying a new form of exercise, like surfing or parasailing. Almost regardless of what you are doing on your travels, you’re almost certainly going to be more active than you would be sitting at a desk in an office all day. Despite some people thinking they’re bound to pack on weight on vacation, it’s entirely possible to return more in shape!