Have you ever wondered what the difference is between travel and vacation? These two things seem pretty similar but I think there’s a big difference. I think that when someone is truly traveling they are experiencing a whole new culture not simply living at a resort for a week. When I say experiencing a whole new culture I mean truly experiencing the sites, the sounds, the taste the people, all of the things that make a culture what it is. I think this is the true essence of travel. How much of a culture can a person honestly experience if the simply go somewhere for a week and hang out at a hotel the whole time. It always saddens me when I hear people talking about the awesome vacation that they took or that their planning on taking. Not that I wouldn’t take a vacation it’s just not the same as traveling. Now don’t get me wrong I would never turn down a free vacation but I would much rather have someone foot the bill for me to go traveling. I think that vacation time is more of a time to relax and try to recharge your battery, where as traveling can be physically draining and tiring. Let’s look at some of the things that make travel so much different then vacation shall we.
For me travel can be an exhilarating experience, but it can also be exhausting both mentally and physically. I think above all else the thing that makes traveling so unique and amazing is the fact that you get to experience a completely different culture. I mean is there anything more exciting then experiencing a new culture? I especially love the new people that you can meet while traveling. In most foreign countries locals will go out of their way to hospitable to a complete stranger. Of course not every culture is like this and there are actually some places where you might actually be looked down upon. Another thing that I really love about visiting a new culture is the food of course I am a total food junkie so you might not like foreign foods quite as much as me. While some people get disgusted by the thought of eating something that they can’t even recognize I absolutely love the idea of being immersed in a culture through food. I mean think about it would America really be America without apple pie? Absolutely not! So just like America wouldn’t be America without apple pie India wouldn’t be India without Naan. So next time you’re traveling try some of the local foods. So aside from unique people and unique food there are a couple of other things that are great about travel versus vacation.
Some people use their travel time as a sort of soul searching time and if that’s what you want to do travel is definitely a great way to do it. People have been known to go on round the world trips for as long two years trying to understand themselves better and often times these people come back knowing what they want to do with their lives or, at least having a better idea. Also when you living out of your backpack or suitcase with the bare essentials you tend to figure out what you think is really important in life. Nothing will make you realize the beauty of a sunset like not having a TV. to suck you away from it.
Another thing that you can do while traveling abroad in foreign countries that will throw you into a culture and make you feel good about yourself, is volunteering. Now there are a lot of organizations that make you pay to volunteer abroad, and often times it’s a ridiculous fee. So my advice to you is that if you want to volunteer somewhere and you’re already at your destination is to just ask around. There are many different organizations in foreign countries, especially developing countries, that would love to have you as a volunteer, and they won’t even make you pay for it.
So now that we’ve looked at a couple of things that make actual travel so great and how you can really throw yourself into a culture let’s look at how vacationing is different from traveling.
To demonstrate how vacationing and traveling are different I’m going to use an example of vacationing in Mexico and traveling in Mexico. First of if someone were to go on vacation in Mexico they would probably go to some tourist filled city like Cancun. Not that I’m bashing Cancun I’m just saying it’s likely. So already this puts you in a poor position to learn about a culture because you’re probably staying at a resort that was made just to tailor to your needs. If you were traveling however you would probably choose a less touristy location and you would probably stay at hostel some sort of budget accommodation. Just staying at a hostel can get you in touch with real locals that aren’t just there to scam you. Also at a resort they’ll often times have American food to tailor to their American clients. This totally destroys the concept of experiencing a new culture through food. On the other hand if you’re staying at non-tourist part of the country you could experience some real local foods maybe even go to a genuine Mexican restaurant. Also if you stay at a resort you’re just going to experience resort life and when you leave you’re not even going to have the slightest idea of what locals live. On top of this you’re not going to learn anything about a new culture and I have to say learning about new cultures is one of the main reasons I love travel so much. So all in all vacationing and traveling do share some similarities but they are two completely different ways to experience a culture. In fact when you’re on vacation you really don’t get to experience what true culture is. So what would you rather do go on vacation or go traveling.