An hour or so before sitting down to write this I was having lunch with my friend Charles Nordstrom. Both of us end up spending a great amount of time “on the road” due to the fact that both of our careers, in some way or another, are inextricably linked to traveling. This, and the fact that Charles has been significantly more places than I, makes him a perfect sounding board for new travel ideas.
As the discussion developed, I realized that I didn’t even want to go traveling as I so often do; I wanted to take a vacation from traveling.
We ended up agreeing that there’s definitely a difference between traveling and merely taking a vacation. In fact, it was noted that it’s reasonably common for overlanders traveling around the world to take a vacation smack-dab in the middle of their journey. While this might be an extreme case (and a problem I’d personally like to have) there’s still a truth behind it—traveling isn’t always relaxing, and that’s the main difference from vacationing. Eventually after weeks of walking around drinking, sightseeing, getting lost, drinking more, and getting yourself even more lost I believe that it is totally possible to need a vacation from traveling. “Traveling can be exhausting” Charles said in our discussion, “sometimes you do need a little vacation.”
Most people end up measuring the amount of time they spend traveling each year through a number of days they can count on both hands, and for them it might be a little bit harder to see the distinction between the two. I constantly have people telling me that they wish they could come with me on all the “vacations” I take. Again, I think they’re mistaking the traveling I do which is a lot more of getting yourself lost in East London or having your vehicle break down in the middle of the desert than drinking a Pina Colada someplace warm in Mexico.
I’m beginning to enter the opposite side of the spectrum. The one where you begin to measure the amount of time spent on the road during any given year in months. Personally I’ll probably have spent somewhere between 2-3 months away from whatever I’m currently considering “home” this year. I could only imagine what the figures are for people such as Scott Brady and Chris Collard who have been doing this for decades longer than I—in far more challenging and remote environments to boot. Once you start to enter this class of travel, you start to really understand the difference between traveling and taking a vacation. It’s not just overlanders that get it; there’s tens of thousands of business travelers, pilots, flight attendants and countless others who spend inordinate amounts of time traveling—but not vacationing.
Even though I’m arguing that there’s a difference between traveling and taking a vacation, there’s no doubt that they are linked. When it finally comes time for those travelers to take a vacation, there’s drawbacks. A certain level of knowledge is acquired whilst traveling and it’s going to transfer into the places you’re choosing for vacation as you end up acquiring a tolerance. Take someone who doesn’t travel a great deal and send them into a seedy street market in Panama and they’ll be having the greatest adventure of their life—while someone who travels a lot will be just walking down a normal street to get an apple. Similarly, Good luck asking someone who spends months traveling to sit on a beach in Cancun, or go to Disney World for a week. You’ll either end up with someone that requires a gallon of Tequila to stay sane, or someone who just leaves. It’s a bit of a curse I guess, so where does a traveler go to get away these days?
I’m starting to think it’s a relaxing vacation at home. Or Dublin. Or Maybe Bangkok.
...there’s that curse again.