The difference between travel and vacation
Yurts at Poncha Pass - Colorado Yurt Rentals and Sustainable Building Workshops - Photo of Chris in ground of Earthship

Written by Chris

April 20, 2014

Travel. A word many live by and a word many live for. Traveling can range from a month or year-long trip with nothing but a backpack, to a weekend out-of-town with the family. In the chaotic life of many who work hard, this word often takes on a new meaning, which I would define as vacation; the idea to get away from the commotion of work for some fun and relaxation.

Often times when that moment arises, the big question is where to go, whereas the question of how to get there seems secondary to most. I would argue that in answering the second question, one finds the difference between travel and vacation. In broad strokes, on one hand we have the all-inclusive experience and on the other, lets say we have the saturation into local culture and customs. I would define vacation as closer to the all-inclusive, whereas travel would be more appropriately defined as investing that free time in getting to know the new places one visits as well as its people.

I am an advocate for travel over vacation any day of the week. I bring it up after living in Curacao for the past 7 months, as I watched cruise ship after cruise ship pull into the harbor and leave the next day. These all-inclusive 5 to 15 story ships offer it all; a bedroom, movie theaters, a climbing wall,  water slides, all you can drink or eat, and the ability to visit multiple places within a given trip. What’s not to like? Taking a closure look at the downtown area, I started to notice that most of the tourists off these boats would stay within 5 city blocks, have maybe a drink or a meal, buy a key chain and maybe something from the Starbucks or other chain stores before hopping back on the boat. Some might make it out to see local markets and make an attempt to converse with the people, but I would say that is more of the exception rather than the rule. With the idea of money talks, these vacations overall support big corporations and the homogenizing of our globe, where unique corner shops, restaurants, and hotels are often forced to close. These trends can also be observed for giant resorts and casinos. Around the world, the idea to disengage is sold as the ideal vacation.

Rightly so, it is not my place either to say how people should spend their time. But, I think this is an important concept to at least ponder as we start to realize the energy costs and feedback associated with our movement. If you’ve ever calculated your footprint online, you’ll find the questions asking how often you fly and/or drive, will change the results dramatically. Movement is costly, and now we’re promoting going to the other sides of the world and disengaging from it altogether!

Originally, the idea of travel was romantic and exciting because it allowed one the chance to meet and get to know a different people, who grew up under a different government, a unique set of cultural rules, and variable environmental conditions. Meeting other people allows for the time to share information, discuss unique methods for tackling the same problems, and gives us the ability to appreciate each other for our individuality and our own lives.

So at the end of the day, as they say, “to each their own”. But if we spend so much money and energy getting to a new land, and work so hard to see a new place, seems an awful shame to only come back with a story of how we supported Starbucks and Carnival, rather than being able to share that unique moment and experience all travelers pursue.

Long live the traveler.

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