Travel vs. vacations

So, I am back from Summer Vacation so-to-speak.  While I was gone, we suffered a death in the family and made a quick dash to New Jersey and got in almost 2 hours of salt, sand, sun and viciously brazen seagulls.  It was a glorious and needed reprieve in the grief of losing my husband’s grandmother (which I will write about eventually).  Then I jetted off to Phoenix, Arizona where the wind felt like a blow dryer but I had a great time communing with other science team coaches.

Last week, a friend had an unexpected stopover in Iceland.  Saturday, neighbors around a fire pit were talking about the deals for kids in Aruba as we welcomed back a family that had been at Disney (while others up the block had just left).  This morning, I sought out a travel agent friend for another friend looking to plan family travel to Greece or Europe.   Suddenly it occurred to me that my own family had not been on a vacation in many years… 

My family has had many, many travels and seen lots of fun and amazing things–visiting friends and family along the way.  We have seen national parks and sites, state fairs, the ocean, tons of local attractions in various places… we have definitely traveled.  But in the last decade I think we have only been on one legit “vacation”.  What’s the difference? I have a good illustration for you…

Every year for roughly five or six years we visited the same family that we love over Labor Day weekend.  Either the last time we were there or the time before that, Husbeau replaced their entire tile surround in the tub alcove of their only bathroom.  The wife had some guilt about this and said “I don’t want him to spend his vacation working!”  I laughed and told her that while I loved visiting them and we had lots of fun (and were away from home), this was not “vacation”.  This was “visiting friends”.  The difference?

Vacation is when everyone in your family has a bed to sleep in and nobody is required to cook a major meal.

She had to think about that for a minute.  This woman has traveled the world and her family goes away–ALL of them (and they are a huge family) every year and has an amazing time.  But they were all responsible for a meal at some point.  She had to think about whether she had EVER been on a vacation as I had defined it.

I have to tell you that I’m not really sure this mattered to me at all until recently.  Specifically: after going to the ocean.  For almost two hours it was just me, Husbeau and the kids on the beach with nothing to rush home to and nowhere to cook a meal.  It was just completely carefree–and it felt completely different than travel often feels for us.  Than even the rest of that very trip felt for us.

So today, I became keenly aware that at some point, for some period of time–even just a day–my family really needs a COMPLETE break.  Okay, let’s be clear: Mama needs a COMPLETE break.  Because reality check: Mama is the one responsible for the meals and the cleaning and all that crap for the most if only to plan it out.  And Mama’s recent exposure to the sun, salt, sand and vicious seagulls didn’t just restore me.  It created an incredible need to go back.  I don’t want to go somewhere by myself without my family.  That’s nice.  I could definitely enjoy that.  I definitely take some alone time.

It was the look on my kids faces.  It was their happiness.  We can make discoveries wherever we are, to be honest.  I can relax and let go at home in the tub or any of a variety of ways without being away.  This was a different kind of relaxation for me more than anyone else.  It clearly affected my kids–which is not even remotely a new discovery.

It was MY complete relaxation reflecting on them.

So my quest is to figure out how to relax more.  Not just the day to day stress relief and comfortable enjoyment of the things we have in life–but the complete and total release of All Of The Things.  The complete abandonment of every responsibility for just a little while. Because we can’t live at the beach, jobless, just abandoning every responsibility for the rest of our lives.  Not yet, anyway.

We will always travel far more than we vacation.  We love it.  It’s been a slow year and a half because of Papa’s challenges, but we will be back on track soon enough.  But all of this has given me a lot of food for thought in moving forward–including what kinds of travels we want to take on for our family in the next few years before our kids leave the nest.  Time to make a bucket list.

What about you?  Does your family travel?  Do you vacation regularly (alone or as a family)?  What places are on your bucket list?


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