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Travel is NOT Vacation (At Least For Me)

Sometimes, when people hear that I’ve been out of town and see me when I get back, they’ll ask how my “vacation” went. I have to chuckle at this, because when I travel or take trips, it’s almost never vacation, and definitely never relaxing.

I’m not saying that taking a vacation is bad or that relaxation isn’t a worthy goal when taking a trip, but 99% of the time, when I leave home, it’s most decidedly unrelaxing.

About a year ago, I went to a friend’s wedding in California, and took along my daughter to give her a special experience with dad. We spent about three days on the trip, and most of the time involved getting there and back. When we got back in town, a lady said “I heard you went to California! Did you have a relaxing vacation?”

I laughed out loud and said “It was not a vacation,” then caught myself and realized I may have come across as unkind and felt bad. But it’s really a strange thing: if people find out that I’m out of town or out of state, they assume I’m sitting on a beach for hours and hours in the sun, drinking boat drinks, unplugging for several days. But that’s almost never the case (I can only think of one trip I’ve taken where that was the case, actually).

In the case of the wedding, for example, the event was in Fresno, but as long as we were going all the way to California, I was determined to take my daughter to the beach. In order to pull that off, we had to fly into Freso Yosemite International Airport (FAT) airport, rent a car, and drive three hours to our AirBNB in Morro Bay. That means we got into Fresno around 8:00pm, then spent 3 hours in the car, and finally got to the place we were staying at midnight.

The next morning, we got up around 9:00am, went to the beach at 10:00am, and then headed back to Fresno, spending 3 hours in the car, so we could get to the event in time.

Was it worth it? Yes, going to the beach on a trip with one of my kids who had never been there before was worth it. Was it relaxing? No way! It was exhausting, and involved a tricky schedule to pull it off.

My point is that traveling to new places, sharing new experiences, and taking journeys is one of my favorite things to do. But when I’m on a trip like that, relaxation is almost never in the cards. I’m taking a trip, or traveling. Not taking a vacation. They’re still worth going, but I’m totally spent when I get home.

So if you see me after I get back home from a trip, don’t ask how my vacation went. Please.

By Ron Stauffer

Ron Stauffer is an average American guy with a quiet obsession of exploring the world a little bit at a time. Born and raised in California, he now lives in Colorado and is always looking for an excuse to get away for a few days at a time, living as a part-time digital nomad. He has a degree in Storytelling from Metro State University in Denver, and loves sharing his experiences exploring on the road, in the air, and over the sea. He's visited 30 American states, and he's been to 6 countries... so far!