What’s the difference between traveling and taking a vacation? I never thought about it too hard, because there was never much of a difference for me…until now.
Traveling is a lifestyle. It’s seeing new places and having dramatic experiences as a matter of course. It’s eating unfamiliar foods, making friends with strangers, participating in unplanned activities, and then moving on to the next titillating adventure. In the meantime, life back “home” moves on and when the traveler returns, everything has changed.
Vacations, by contrast, are bookended by a job. You request a week or two off, you plan, you go, you momentarily escape the daily grind, and then you come back. You’ve barely skipped a beat.
This feels like the first vacation I’ve ever taken. I just took two weeks off of work to go to Peru. I had a wonderful time, eating unfamiliar foods, making friends with strangers, and participating in unplanned activities. I felt my soul open up and blossom with the traveler’s spirit. And then my two weeks were up and I came back and realized I had just taken a vacation.
My real life was suspended, frozen in time until I returned, and that was the main difference for me. Nothing had changed, my vacation was over, and everyone expected me to just jump right back into my life and my job (and, of course, post my pictures on Facebook).
Nevertheless, vacation or not, my trip to Peru was magical. I made it to South America for the first time in my life. I got to speak to people in my rusty Spanish. I got to salsa dance. I took a four-day hike through the mountains where I didn’t see more than the same eight people the entire time. I disconnected from my cell phone, email, and social media. I ate alpaca and thought about trying guinea pig. I got to see the famous Machu Picchu—a dream since my first semester of college in Spanish class.
It was incredible. And I want to go back. I just don’t know for sure if the next time will be as a traveler or a vacationer. Only time will tell…
How about you? Would you consider yourself a traveler or vacationer? What are the plusses and minuses, as you see them? Which would you prefer to be? Please discuss below.
P.S. Yes, there will be more posts coming with more stories of Peru!
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