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In Praise of Vacations … AND Travel

I spent last week on vacation with my family in a house at the New Jersey shore. The day I left the office, one of my coworkers said, “Have a nice trip!” as I walked out the door. I thanked her, but inwardly I felt a little jolt — I didn’t actually feel like I was taking a trip at all. A vacation, yes. A trip, no. And then I wondered: What’s the difference?

For me, taking a trip means traveling, exploring, getting lost, stretching myself out of my comfort zone. But the goal of a vacation is the exact opposite: total relaxation. My week at the shore is something I do every year with the same people in the same spot, a place as familiar to me as my own home town. I leave the passport and guidebooks at home, packing nothing more than tank tops, shorts, flip-flops and a towering stack of novels.

When I travel, I’m in exploration mode, and I love to take in something new every day — a neighborhood, a cafe, a museum or historic site. When I vacation, I happily sink into a comfortable and beloved routine: a morning bike ride, an afternoon at the beach, an evening dinner with my family on the balcony.

As an avid traveler, I’d never consider spending all my days off lazing on the sand. There’s too much world out there to discover! But I’d never give up that precious week of true vacation either. The ultra-relaxation I find there recharges my batteries in a way nothing else does — so I can keep on exploring.

Do you see a difference between vacationing and traveling? Do you try to incorporate both into your life?

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