The Differences Between Travel and a Vacation
What is the Main Difference Between Travel and Vacation?
Travel and vacations are different things but they do have one thing in common; they refresh you. Vacations are a getaway for a week or two or even a month to recharge your batteries. A place to rest and relax from your daily work and life stresses. It is easy. You hop on a plane, ship or train. You check-in to a place that looks after you. You spend your time there and maybe take in some tourist activities. Then you get back on the plane, ship or train and go home. All rested and recharged and ready to face your daily life once again until the next vacation.
Travel is more. Travel is wanting to learn about another culture. Living within that culture. Eating their food. Drinking their beverages. Learning their language – even if it just some simple shop keeper phrases. Understanding their history. Learning their stories. Appreciating their art, music, theatre, literature, and architecture. Understanding the way the people in that culture think and go about their daily lives. What is important to them. Making a connection with them in some way.
Travel is a deeper meaningful experience than a vacation. It develops memories that last a lifetime. It allows you to understand how other people think and do things. You realize that there are so many cultures in the world and they are all wonderful and vibrant and fun, if you understand them. You realize that people around the world are friendly and kind to strangers.
For me, one of the great pleasures of travel is planning the trip. Over a period of months reading and thinking about the places we want to go, see and experience. With the great amount of written and digital resources available today it is easy to spend months researching and reading. It is a chance to live in your mind all those places that you always wanted to go to. It gives you a head start for enjoying your time there. You hit the ground running so to speak because you have a familiarity with the region before you get there.
The logistics of trip planning vs vacation planning is overwhelming for some. There is so much detail that goes into trip planning. I have friends that let a travel agent plan out their trips because there are too many steps for them. But, they end up paying double or more than what I pay for the same trip. The planning is easy if you take your time and give yourself time.
We usually decide our travel destination two years out. I start to do some general research on flights and accommodations and then start reading more extensively about the area. Tourism information from government agencies, tourist organizations, and travel blogs are all good sources of information. All of these will send me on different tangents to uncover some pretty obscure information that all adds to my understanding of the place. I make notes and get a general feel for the place.
Finding Cheap Flights
A year out I will start to look for the lowest flight prices on different dates. I already have in mind what a fair price will be, what a great price will be, and what is the cheapest price I can get a flight. We have flown to lots of places for under a hundred dollars. We have flown to places for free. After awhile you get a sense of what you can pay if you are flexible. As soon as I see that price range I grab it and book our flights.
The same applies for car rentals if you are going to need a car. The great thing with car rentals is that you can change your reservation at any time without penalty. I keep a watch on prices from time-to-time. If I see a better price, I book at that price and then cancel my previous reservation. I have saved thousands of dollars over the years with this little tip.
The difference in trip lengths between travel and a vacation
Another difference between travel and vacation is the length of the trip. Vacations are generally 1-4 weeks in length with most being 2 weeks or less. Our trips are generally 8-10 weeks. We like to spend a week or two in each place. I could easily spend a couple of months in each place we go to visit. That would be my preference because I love to read and write and just absorb the complete atmosphere of the place while I am doing what I love to do. But, when you travel with a partner there are compromises. My wife, Loie, is only good for a week or two in a place while we are traveling.
We have done a few 3 months-in-one-place trips but it is usually too long for Loie as there is not enough for her to do on a day-to-day basis. Each traveller is different and you have to take that into account when you are planning. Everyone wants to have fun and enjoy their time on the trip. That means different things to each person and all of that has to be taken into account when planning the trip.
Being what it is for us, I plan our trips so that we are in new places for a week, although we have extended that time if we really like the place. In Hoi An, Vietnam, we extended our stay by a week because we really fell in love with the place and the people. And when we did move on, we only went 40 minutes north to Da Nang where we spent a wonderful week.
How Does Slow Travel Reduce Travel Stress?
Travel allows you to create a routine for yourself. On a European vacation where you visit a number of spots in a short period of time, you are on the move all the time with little time to experience the area. A few days here then you are on a plane, train, bus or driving to some other unknown place where you don’t know where anything is located. Another new accommodation with another unfamiliar bed and surroundings. You get overwhelmed with all the new things to see and do. Everything at the end is just a blur of activity.
Spending a week or a month in a place allows you to develop a daily routine. Your daily walks, shopping, preparing meals. Recognizing shop keepers and people in the neighbourhood. That reduces the stress of being in unfamiliar surroundings. You feel more relaxed and are able to take in and absorb things instead of being constantly bombarded with new things that need your decisions and reactions that over time mentally and physically exhaust you.
Is Slow Travel Cheaper Than Vacations?
The cost is a major difference between travel and vacation. Vacations cost up to 10 times more per day than when you travel. If you were to fly to an all inclusive resort for your vacation you will spend a minimum of $2500 a person. Most people will end up spending more like $4000 for the week, if you are truthful and take in all the extra expenses like new clothes and other accessories. This works out to almost $600 per person per day!
In addition to the $600 per day, you have a complete set of other expenses that you are paying while you are away. Ongoing expenses like cable, Internet, phone, insurances, electricity, heating, and so on that continue even when you are not there. Vacations are expensive. They are a treat to yourself. And sometimes they are a necessity for your mental health. But it is not a sustainable way to travel unless you are rich.
Traveling is much cheaper. Way cheaper. Our last trip to Miami cost us $50 a day per person. Our last trip to Panama cost us $60 a day per person. That is all in. Airfare, accommodations, admission tickets, taxis, car rental, and all taxes for a month. We don’t count food in our travel budget as our food costs are about the same whether we are traveling or staying home.
This is how we can afford to take 3 major trips a year along with 2 or 3 minor trips. We have been doing that for the past 15 years and have learned the meaning of travel. Once you start, you can’t stop.