Trips vs. Vacations

Julie and I always have worked hard and played hard. We’ve been “over-functioners” for much of our lives, so it’s been hard for us to take breaks away from work, responsibilities, and the daily routine. And when we have taken breaks, usually they have been “trips”.

In our family, trips are lots of fun, but incredibly busy. For many years we would load up our van, hitch up the tent trailer, and travel many miles camping and seeing the sites. (A short trip for us was 1500 miles. 2500 miles was typical and our longest trip was more than 6000 miles). Most days on these trips would be full of planned activities. A visit to a museum, a bike ride, a kayak or rafting trip, taking in a local play….  All of these things were tremendously enjoyable, but virtually all of them were scheduled.

When we came home after a trip, we were emotionally refreshed, because we had enjoyed time away. Yet often we were physically exhausted because we had been so intensely busy!

A few years ago, all of this began to change. We changed our family lexicon to intentionally distinguish between “trips” and “vacations”. We still take trips, because there are things outside of the daily routine that we want to see and do. But now we also, at times, intentionally take vacations.

Vacations can be as short as one day, but they are times when nothing very specific is scheduled. The goal is rest, renewal, and relaxation.

Earlier this month, our son visited us for two weeks with his family. It was a special time, as these visits always are. Most of this time was like a “trip”: lots of planned activities, but not necessarily a lot of rest (for them or for us). So after they left, Julie and I needed a brief “vacation”.

So I took a Sunday away from church (which also freed me from the time demands of sermon preparation) and we went for a drive. We headed up to Alsee Falls, about an hour away. That was our only “plan”.

We enjoyed a leisurely drive along the forested, twisty, two-lane country road. We had a great walk along the riverbank and experienced the beauty of the small, scenic falls.

On the drive home (via a different route) we encountered signs along the road that pointed out interesting sights, so we made a couple of detours to see what we could see.

In our busy & scheduled lives, we seldom take time for side-trips, so these kinds of experiences feel tremendously freeing. They are so easy to do when we don’t enslave ourselves with self-imposed schedules and deadlines!

We were away from home for most of the day and it felt like so much more. The change of scenery, the quiet and beauty of the forest…the roar of the falls…and the complete freedom from any sort of schedule truly made this a day of “vacation”.

And because of this vacation day, we were refreshed, revitalized, and ready for the week ahead.

-       Bruce