The Difference Between Traveling and Vacation

October 22, 2018


Stephanie Goraczkowski

traveling not vacay

When Being A Traveler Isn’t A Vacation...

Traveling and vacation. We like to link these two words together often, especially when being a traveler is your job. I mean, hey, who wouldn’t want “professional vacationer” as part of their resume? It all sounds like a magical dream life, and sometimes it can be. However, it’s also important to draw distinctions between vacationing and traveling.


Now, hold your horses… there’s nothing wrong with taking a vacation. A nice break to relax and dip your toes in some beachy water, earbuds in, with the perfect vacay playlist tuned up… sounds pretty great.

But, let’s pause. A vacation is not a cultural experience, really. It’s not your chance to grow or flourish as the amazing person you are; it’s your moment to #selfcare and sip a beverage. They seem similar, right? Here, let me break it down a little more…



Scenario 1:

Putting a pair of sandals in your suitcase for the beach? Vacay.

Putting all your stuff in boxes to schlep across the country? Travel.



Scenario 2:

Enjoying a poolside cocktail at your destination resort? Vacay.

Enjoying a glass of wine from a coffee mug, because you’re on a travel assignment and why the heck would you have wine glasses on hand!? Travel.




Scenario 3:

Deciding on the best route to dinner, then getting nervous that the traffic will make you late for your reservation? Vacay.

Deciding on the best route to your new facility, then getting nervous that the traffic will make you late on your first day? Travel.




Scenario 4:

Spending your day discovering a cool hiking spot, a new pizza joint, or sipping coffee all day and reading a book? Vacay.

Spending your day helping a patient, chatting with their family, and getting an idea of who they are and the treatment they need? Travel.



You can see the subtle differences in these two terms. The good news is, the lines can blur together. Travel and vacation are closely linked when you’re a traveler. It’s your job to already be at your destination. And while maybe you aren’t spending nearly all your time in chill out autopilot mode, or being the travel foodie you aspire to be, you get to work where you explore.

We talk about the benefits of traveling all the time, but we don’t spend nearly enough time sifting through the stuff that isn’t always sunshine and roses. So, what are some of those downfalls, and how can you avoid them?


travel burnout

Whether it’s the stress of the job or the stress of packing up that suitcase all the time, hittin’ the road can really hit you back. It's okay to take a break. You don't always have to be on-the-go. Traveling and self care go hand-in-hand, and taking a break between travel assignments (or a vacation!) could give you the energy to jump back in the game. 


tourist trap

While it’s totally normal to experience all the tourism of your new city, you don’t wanna ride that ferris wheel too many times, do you? So what do you do when you run out of tourist places to explore? Go local, of course! After all, you live here now. Eat where the locals eat, hang out where the locals hang out and welcome yourself to your new city.


great expectations

Your housing not what you thought it would be? This new city isn’t what you envisioned? Everyone’s been there. The point isn’t to lower your expectations (why would you do that?!); it’s to go into your travel experience with an open mind. Maybe you have a smaller living space, but you’re going to be out doing cool stuff anyway, so you don’t need it. The cool store you wanted to check out actually closed a few months ago? No worries! Cities are ever-changing and I’m sure your next exploration is literally right around the corner.


I recently subscribed to a writer and adventurer, Dave Booda, and his words really resonated:

Vacations are about escaping.
Traveling is about diving in.


A true travel experience is about learning and transforming yourself. Vacation is about allowing yourself the R&R to grow when you’re traveling (yes, here we go with that self-care line again.)

But travel? Travel is an adventure. So… dive in.

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