Vacations vs. Trips

This is sort of an addendum to my Hacking Vacation Time post from the fall.

I like to categorize my travel as either a vacation or a trip. Let me explain.

The goal of a vacation is to relax. I don’t over-schedule my time. I like to be doing things each day, but at a relaxed pace. A perfectly acceptable day might be getting up late, eating breakfast, lying on the beach, and then grabbing a nice dinner. On my travel days I don’t want to take super early flights or start driving as soon as I wake up. I try to go light on technology and definitely abstain from any work.

Trips are different. The goal of a trip is to see things and do things. Trips start with getting up as early and doing as much as possible. This might include traveling late at night or early in the morning. It’s all about maximizing your time. I use my phone like crazy to try to optimize everything I’m doing.

A good differentiator is how I feel when I get home. When I go on vacation I come back rejuvenated, refocused, energetic. I’m ready to get back to life. When I come home from a trip I need several days to recover. I often feel more exhausted than when I left.

Sometimes vacations and trips can mix, but in my experience it’s usually one or the other, dependent upon the people who are going and why they’re going. In my 20’s I spent a lot of time taking trips. They were fun. My friends and I did things like go to two NFL games in one day, one in St. Louis and another in Indianapolis that night. Now, however, I find myself mostly wanting to take vacations. Even when I’m going somewhere I’ve never been before I’d prefer to see less and do less to preserve that relaxed pace and come home feeling better.

2 comments on Vacations vs. Trips

  1. Rob says:

    Interesting distinction.

    One way to handle the burnout is to mix the two together if you’ve got the time – eg. make sure the last 3-4 nights of your trip are spent in the same location and just slow down.

    On longer trips it’s definitely worth having breather days built in, otherwise it can become like a treadmill – a mistake I’ve made more than once!

    One thing we try and avoid as far as possible is single nights in the same place if there’s more than 2-3 hours of driving to do.

    I also find that trips in dense regions (eg. most of Europe) compared to trips in spread out places (west & central USA, Australia etc.) are quite different. In Europe if you drive for 2 hours straight you’ll probably have driven past lots of interesting stuff, whereas you can drive for 10 hours in Australia and not miss a thing!

    • Adam McFarland says:

      One way to handle the burnout is to mix the two together if you’ve got the time – eg. make sure the last 3-4 nights of your trip are spent in the same location and just slow down.

      This is a good idea – definitely something to try in the future!

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