How to Know if You’re Taking a Vacation or a Trip

How to Know if You’re Taking a Vacation or a Trip

You’ve heard that saying ‘I need a vacation from my vacation’? I’ve said that so many times after getting back from a weeklong excursion with my family. And I’ve finally realized that if I need a vacation from my vacation, than it wasn’t really a vacation. It was a trip. And there’s a big difference.

These questions will help you decide if you’re taking a vacation or a trip, so that you can adjust your expectations for fun accordingly.

How many suitcases do you have?

family vacations

On a vacation, you only have to pack for yourself. You have 2 suitcases at the most and it took you an hour to pack. On a trip, you have to pack all the things for all the people. You have to remember their underwear, socks, 5 pairs of shoes, everyone’s toothbrush and earbuds and their favorite blanket and this takes you approximately 6 years. You have 95 bags packed and you have to squeeze them all into your 10 year old minivan because God forbid you can’t bring the entire Harry Potter series for your son to read.

Do you have an itinerary?

family vacations

On a vacation, your itinerary should include things like: Sitting by the pool, mimosas for breakfast, sunset cruise, reading a good book. On a trip, the itinerary is usually 7 pages long, requires that you’ve booked appointment times, reserved a trolley tour, packed clothes for 3 different types of weather and have tickets to 9 events. You need a planner and preferably a personal assistant to follow you around and tell you where you need to be next.


Did you fight with your spouse?

vacation or trip

On a vacation, you and your spouse get along beautifully. You have plenty of time alone, drinks are flowing, nobody is interrupting your conversations or asking you for anything. You remember why you like each other again and it’s like a second honeymoon. On a trip, you’re usually 5 minutes in before one of you is annoyed with the other. You want to leave at 8:00, it’s 8:10 and he’s still packing his toiletries bag and you’re wondering why you married him. You can’t agree on where to eat for lunch, you constantly critique his driving (which he loves) and you’re usually not talking by the time you get home. Marriage is fun.


Does it involve family drama?

family vacations

On a vacation, you don’t visit your family. Easy Peasy. On a trip, you have to plan to stop and see any family within a 100 mile radius for fear that they’ll see pictures of your trip on Facebook and you’ll never hear the end of it.


Are there potential dangers?

On a vacation, you only have to worry about your own safety. You make sure you put on enough sunscreen so you don’t burn and you wear the right shoes so you don’t get a blister. On a trip, you’re in a new place, so you’re in charge of everyone’s safety. Your job (because this is NOT a vacation) is to navigate any potential dangers for your family. Things like making sure no one is hanging off the side of the boat, everyone gets on the bus so that no one is lost, and watching out for rip currents. We went to Tennessee and this sign was at the start of the trail.

family vacationsLord help me, why did I bring my children to a DEATH TRAP? How am I supposed to relax? Oh right, I’m not, because this is a TRIP and not a vacation.


How are you getting there?

vacation or trip

If you’re taking a vacation, the travel time to get there is usually manageable. Maybe a 2 hour drive or a 4 hour plane ride. You might have one layover, but you’re on vacation, so it’s fine. On a trip, you’re trapped in the car with small, unreasonable humans for 15 hours, which feels like 9 years. Everyone is bored, someone throws up from car sickness, one kid has to pee every hour and you get stuck in 2 traffic jams. By the time you get to your destination, all you can do is dread the drive home.


Do you have to get up early?

vacation or trip

On a vacation, you don’t have to set an alarm. Time does not matter, you don’t need a watch and you make decisions on meals based on how hungry you are. It’s a thing of beauty. On a trip, your alarm has to be set for 7am so that you can catch the metro or train or get to the park before it opens. Everyone is up early and they’re grouchy and ready for a nap by 2, but you still have eleventy billion places to visit, because this is fun!

Here’s the bottom line. If your kids are coming with you, it’s a trip. And let’s face it. Most of us take trips, but we’d rather be taking vacations and that’s why we’re tired and need wine.

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