Since we returned from ‘the big trip’ we have not done any traveling together (WS did not go to Haiti). This is not to say we have not gone anywhere since mid 2009, it just means we have taken vacations instead.
How do I define the difference?
A vacation to me involves little thought once on it and a bigger budget to take it. I am comfortable on vacation, I can relax, I can leave it all behind. Traveling means picking up the backpack and jumping on a train to a place just recommended by someone I just met, not worrying that I don’t have hotel booked or know the language. This will take more thought and effort, but I am still comfortable, I am still relaxed, and I can still leave it all behind.
I see these two as very very different, but they can both produce similar outcomes.
Last year we took two really cool vacations. Our first vacation was a package deal to Ireland that included the flight, bed and breakfast vouchers, and a car. There was a plan in place with very little thought from me. We ate well, WS drank well (Guiness) and we stayed in nice places. And yes, Ireland is as green as everyone says.
Our second vacation was a cruise to Alaska for WS’s **0th birthday (he will kill me if I broadcast this to the world). We flew to Seattle, had a few days there (one of our favorite cities), and then hit the cruise ship. Cruises scream vacation to me. Everything was laid out for us, and all we had to do was sit back and enjoy the moment.
I think when we returned in 2009, we needed to take some vacations. We needed a break from traveling.
But Baby, I am ready to travel again.
In September, we will travel through four cities in Europe. Our first stop will be London to visit some friends we met while on the big trip. That is set in stone. But from there, where? Our loose plan is Budapest, Prague and Amsterdam. How will we get from one place to another, and how long will we stay in each place?
I don’t know. To me , that is the beauty and simplicity of travel. Waking up and seeing where the day takes you. Exploring a city for what it has to offer, beyond those “must sees” that everyone tells you that you have to do. Wandering aimlessly down city streets, eating local food, and ebbing and flowing with whatever comes your way.
As Americans, I do believe it is harder for us to travel. We get two weeks off per year. It is so much easier to plan a vacation, have your days mapped out, because there is limited time and we don’t want to “miss” anything. I challenge you on your next trip to book a round-trip flight, but leave your guidebook and expectations behind. Start wandering, start interacting with locals, start seeing beyond your “must see” list. I guarantee you will be rewarded by your efforts.