It's December already and despite the Canadian reputation for braving the elements many of you are heading off to warm sun soaked beaches. I would give a lot to join you in some luxuriously warm destination but sadly it's not part of my plans for the year.
As I write this I can overhear two of my professors comparing the great deals they got on their winter vacations. $1600 for a week at an all inclusive. It's a good deal for sure, but as soon as I heard the price all I could think of was where else I could go with $1600.
I measure everything in the price of traveling. I find a cute top and I think that could buy me a concert ticket at a festival in Australia. I fill up my tank of gas and think that could be a lift pass in BC. $1600 could take me on a road trip across America. It could buy me a flight to Phuket, or Sitka, or the Himalayas.
But are vacations and traveling really comparable?
My professor is paying for a vacation. A week away from life. A Holiday. A chance to recharge, destress, and tune out.
I wonder how often I have interchangeably used the word vacation for traveling, when the two words mean something so different.
To prove my point I looked up the definition of both these words.
Vacation is defined as a holiday (a period of leisure and recreation) while travel is defined as a journey (a process of personal change and development).
When in Rome do as the Romans do.
The Romans don’t regularly visit the Coliseum and toss coins into the Trevi Fountain.
It made me think of the time I spent in Paris this summer. I went to museums and landmarks and studied the art and history of Paris, but it wasn’t until I spent the afternoon sitting at a small cafe sipping red wine that I really felt I had experienced Paris. It wasn’t until I ate what they ate and did what they do and spoke with the locals that I felt I had travelled to Paris.
I've always felt that until you step away from being a tourist and truly experience the culture of a place you will only ever be a tourist and never a traveler. Don't get me wrong every visitor must see these sights and every person need time to leisurely sit on the beach.
This post is not a critique of those of you who love to vacation. I myself have had my fair share of tropical vacations, but because I am no longer a tag along to my parents' trips, I have become more conscious of how I spend my money. My passion for travel causes me to measure all expenses to the cost of a flight.
It's all about our priorities. My dad is famous in our family for saying " You can have anything you want in life, so long as you're willing to pay the price."
This realization has helped me to understand that choosing to spend money on vacations instead of traveling, is the same as people buying houses instead of plane tickets.
While some of you may wonder why I am so passionate about traveling or wonder what it is that I'm looking for, I likewise may be curiously trying to understand you.
In the end, December will lead us each to our own path. While you head off on either your holidays or your journeys, I will not be going far. The travel fund is losing momentum and in an effort to steadily rebuild its growth I've decided to explore my own city. While my life here in the capital city is an example of the journey that I seek to discover by traveling abroad, I thought it would be neat to see what the town looks like as a tourist.
I hope you will take the time at some point in your life to experience what is truly is to travel, but I promise that this December I will experience what it truly is to be a tourist.