Striking a Balance Between Relaxation and Boredom

A few months back, ebestvacations posed the following question to fellow Lonely Planet members:

Do travelers have all the fun of vacation? or Is vacation all about traveling?

When I wrote about this then I had no idea what the question meant, but other travelers/vacationers did seem to understand what ebestvacations was getting on about and a lively discussion ensued.

More recently, FrugalTravelGuy’s Howie wrote about how he and his missus approach this question, and how considering whether the goal of a trip is travel or vacation, and agreeing on the purpose, can make a big difference in the enjoyment of said trip. Referring specifically to an upcoming trip to Asia, Howie wrote:

We wanted to travel, visit new places and people, but also realized that it needed to include some time for vacation. Actual vacation — time where we would rest — not be focused on new cultural experiences and instead focus on the relaxation of our mind and body.

Thank you Howie. After reading your post I too now understand what is meant by some when proclaiming a difference between travel and vacation. My missus and I have actually struggled with this also, as I’m sure many other couples have. Only we use different terminology.

When planning for a trip, we consider if we want the trip to be a relaxcation or a docation – or perhaps a little of both. And like Howie and his wife, we have found that determining ahead of time what we expect from the trip and planning accordingly makes a BIG difference in our overall enjoyment of the trip:

We set our goals way before the trip begins and make sure we’re in 100% agreement. Doing this means that we travel together, vacation together and see joy in the individual pieces of our trips that we both enjoy at different levels.

Renee Rabbit and his/her partner have worked out a compromise approach:

I’m more of a traveler but my travel partner is more laid back … We’ll have a day on the beach lounging and drinking, then a day out exploring nearby ruins, museums, culture, or shopping. … By alternating we both get what we crave and usually end up enjoying the other’s favorite things as well.

While Mary Jane Matheny explains how one particular form of transport satisfies both needs:

Cruising can combine both of these goals easily, and that is why I do so much of it!

Possibly the best explanation I have ever read as to why so many people enjoy cruising. Perhaps happy couples compromise and cruise.

Thank you Howie for putting this question that was incomprehensible to me just a few short months ago into language even I can understand.

What about you? Assuming you get the difference between travel and vacation, which do you prefer your trips to be about? And if you travel with a significant other do you consider the different approaches when planning a trip?

And do you have other terms for the two types of trips?

Read the post and discussion in its entirety: Are You A Traveler Or A Vacationer?

Image: “Hammocks by Amiee” by Art of Backpacking. CC BY 2.0


  1. We have the same discussion for every trip and I have found that often I’m making last-minute adjustments as our goals change last-minute (i.e. a stressful week at work right before the trip can encourage more relaxation time!). We try to do a balance of both and generally speaking, I like to plan one “doing” thing every day and keep the rest as downtime. If we’re more ambitious while on the trip itself, it’s usually simple to add last-minute activities in and stay busier!

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