As a frequent traveler, many people are genuinely interested in hearing my stories and are inspired by the adventures I seek out. On the other hand, there's also a lot of negativity surrounding people who travel often. I regularly receive comments like:
"Wow, it must be nice to never work." [Read: you're so lazy and you just lay on beaches all day and gorge yourself on gelato while the rest of us work 9 to 5]
"So, how do you afford to travel so much?" [Read: do you even work at all? Are you some sort of trust fund kid?]
"When do you plan on settling down?" [Read: when do you plan on getting a real job? because you aren't allowed to travel forever]
(All of which are accompanied with a noticeably disapproving tone)
Why is it that traveling often inspires such negative feelings in others? Why is being an avid traveler synonymous with being (A) spoiled rich kid who's never worked for anything, (B) a lazy, undecided semi-adult who can't figure out what to do with their life, or (C) someone who is incredibly lucky and won the life lottery and deserves to be envied?
And then it hit me.
People think this way because they envision travel and vacation as being synonymous. And I don't think they are.
Hear me out.
There is obvious crossover between travel and vacation. But there are significant differences as well.
In my mind, taking vacation is an attempt to take a break from everyday life, to relax, de-stress, and chill.
On the other hand, I see travel as being an attempt to seek out new experiences, to immerse yourself in a new culture and location, and to learn valuable life skills abroad.
Why is this difference important? Well, think about what you associate with vacationing: resorts, nice hotels, big meals, cocktails every night, lattes every morning, lounging on a beach, going on exciting excursions, translators, tour guides, and the like.
I would be pretty envious of/annoyed with people who did this all the time, too.
But when I think of travel, I imagine: visiting locals, going on adventures, budgeting, hostels, cultural cuisine, long train rides, heavy backpacks, and long days.
Obviously, there is a lot in common between the two, and neither is cut-and-dry. Those items listed above might not even be what you connote with 'vacation' and travel'. Regardless, vacations often aren't just peachy, and involve getting lost, getting sick, lots of travel time, going on adventures that are anything-but relaxing, and a slew of other things. Similarly, travel often involves lounging on a beach, staying in nice places, having tour guides, and chilling in a quiet place.
The true difference, I think is that travel is more focused on the process of arriving, while vacation is more focused on the destination.
So while the difference is mainly in connotation, I think it is significant to note. I love traveling, and I love vacationing, but I don't think the two are synonymous. I find this mainly important because when I say I travel often, I'm not saying I vacation often. I promise; traveling doesn't always feel like a vacation!
But why does this all matter?
Well, I suppose it doesn't, really. But I don't like criticism (I'm horrible at taking it, even the constructive kind), so when I receive negative judgment about my traveling, I feel the need to defend myself and my hobby. Traveling isn't cheap, it's not necessarily helpful for getting a job, and it can seem like a waste of time. But it's also an incredible experience, influences strong character growth, teaches important life skills, and opens up opportunities all over the world. Traveling is more than just relaxing and getting away from work; it's vital for global awareness and understanding others.
While vacationing is something we all want, traveling is something we all need.
What do you think? Do you agree that travel and vacation are not synonymous?