I’m not sure exactly when I started to distinguish between visiting and vacationing. When I was younger, any time I wasn’t in school felt like a vacation. That could be a weekend, a holiday—even a day home sick (provided I wasn’t sick-sick—just the ‘don’t get the other kids sick’ kind of sick). There wasn’t much in the way of vacationing in my house. (I didn’t know until I got to college that some people used summer as a verb.) But now that I pay for all my own trips, I’ve started to think differently about travel—especially the leisure kind.
A lot of my travel falls into the category of visiting, and it’s usually with family. I coordinate with a relative; I stay at their house; we have a good time. It’s lovely. But also when I’m visiting, I feel compelled to be the ideal house guest, and I try and make the most of every moment. So, I pack it in: running around, seeing all the people, taking all the pictures, having the meals, going to the places, making the memories… Once it’s all said and done, I am pooped. I mean, I’m always glad to visit, but that doesn’t negate how stressful it can be. I guess that’s why even after I’ve just returned home from a visit, I feel like I need a vacation.
Vacation is different. I might be going to a place I’ve never been or returning to a place I really enjoyed. I may or may not be meeting people I know there, and I may or may not go alone. Vacation is typically more expensive, usually more restful, and—in my case—less frequent. Another significant difference for me, between visiting and vacationing, is an intentionality toward rest and recuperation.
When I think about vacation in this way, I realize it doesn’t have to be outside the country or an all-inclusive; it doesn’t even have to be five or seven or ten days long. So, I’ve been learning how to put vacation time into my visits. Case and point: Now when I visit family, I begin and end my trips with a stay at a friend’s house. It may be a day trip, or it could be longer. We dine out or order in; we hang around the neighborhood or visit someplace local that neither of us has ever been to. Sometimes I just tag along on errands, but it’s all time well spent.
When I’m visiting with my family, it’s cookouts and the beach and the pool and game nights and reminiscing, etc. But with my homegirls, it’s just, “What do you want to do today?” Sometimes, we even get work done (since so many of us work remotely now), but even that feels easy. I don’t feel obligated. (And I know I’m not obligated with my family—they don’t expect me to do anything, but I am the oldest girl, so it’s a given,AmIRight?). The homies don’t have expectations. We can just be. And when you can just be, you can rest.
Provided the world stays [relatively] safe for travel, I look forward to going on more vacations (long ones, short ones, near ones, far ones), but I’m also going to continue with my visits. Because the older I get (here comes the cliché), the more I recognize and appreciate the importance of family. It means a lot—almost everything. And I’m grateful every summer to see my littles get bigger and my elders still in good health. If that means I have to take a mini-vacation before and after I visit, then so be it.
Do you visit, or do you vacation—are they different for you?Leave a Comment