I think that it is safe for me to say that most people want to see a pristine beach, natural wonder or a sacred religious site with their own eyes. Each person has their own list of ‘Dream Destinations’ and there is, generally, a lot of overlap for popular places like Paris, the Grand Canyon or Disneyworld. If given the chance to take a free trip to these places, I believe that most would jump at the opportunity.
The real question that potential globetrotters should consider is whether they want to Vacation or Travel. This may sound like splitting hairs at first, but it’s important to understand what your travel goals are.
“Vacationing” is what most people think of when they imagine themselves at a destination. A nice hotel room, personal rental car and all-inclusive bar tabs are some of the staples of this kind of travel. These trips are usually a week long, but are filled with expensive meals, drinks and experiences. It is built on the idea that while on vacation everything should be comfortable and relaxing. It’s a “Treat Yo Self” week for working so hard at home and your job.
“Traveling” is when you give up some of the luxury items you have while vacationing, so that it’s possible to extend your trip and be more immersed. Staying in hostels, taking public transportation and following deals instead of destinations will give you a much better bang for your buck. The traveller is willing to take a few extra steps in order to spend less. This could mean saving money on the standard week-long vacation or staying abroad longer for the same cost as ‘Vacationing’ for a week, but they may have to give up the comfy bed and robe.
I have my own preference to be a traveller instead of a vacationer, but I see the value of both. I might turn into a vacationer later in my years and want to stay at an all inclusive resort, not lifting a finger. You have to really take a look at how you want to live your life. Our ages, health and financial situations are all factors when trips or family vacations are planned.
“Can grandma walk from the hotel to the bus stop?”
“Do I want to spend my money on local food or a 4-star hotel?”
“How much time can I take off work?”
“Do I want to immerse myself and get lost while taking part in the culture or enjoy it as a spectator and take in the high lights while staying in my comfort zone?”
As a point of reference, our 24-day Mediterranean honeymoon cost us about $10,000. We hopped on and off our cruise ship, allowing us to see the most beautiful destinations and eat fancy four-course meals. Using the same budget of $10,000, we were able to fund about half of our upcoming 248-day trip. Those are very different trips with the same budget.
I bring up the difference between these two types of travel, because it is easy to assume that all travel is Vacationing. We see the selfie-photos in front of the Trevi Fountain in Rome or the Great Wall of China and assume that they spent an arm and a leg. We forget that most people don’t post photos of where they stayed or how they got there. Nor do we bother to include those details when we talk to people, we just talk about the highlights.
Both modes of travel will get you where you want to go. Think about how you want to travel instead of only thinking about where you want to travel. This will allow you to keep stress levels low, keep trips on budget and still allow you see the parts of the world you’ve been dreaming about.
So which one are you?