When is a Vacation Not a Vacation?


I was talking to a coworker the other day, and she mentioned that she would be on vacation beginning the next day. So, of course, I asked where she was going. She responded that she wasn’t going anywhere; rather she was staying at home and would be doing a few little hikes and just hanging out with her daughter.

That reminded me of a question I am frequently asked when I say I’m going to Georgia, or Arizona, or Ohio, or anywhere I happen to be going off to. “Oh, do you have family there?” More often than I would like to think, people are genuinely puzzled by the fact that no, I do not have family there.

These scenarios just got me wondering – When is a vacation really a vacation? Of course, I can only speak for myself, but a vacation must include a destination – generally with a plane ride but a road trip can certainly count too. I know the concept of a stay-cation has been much in the news lately, but to me, hanging around home is sheer torture. I look at all the organizing projects I should be working on, all the clutter I should be tackling, all the deck painting, de-mossing, gutter cleaning, weeding, car waxing, light fixture changing that I should be doing and it just makes me depressed. I can only truly unwind if I’m not stuck staring at all that stuff, thinking about what I should be doing.

That isn’t to say that I never want to do these things, but I just don’t want to use my vacation time to do it. It is a conundrum. A friend of mine only considers it to be a vacation if it includes 5 (consecutive) days off work.

Sadly, I have no vacation on the immediate horizon (under either the destination/plane ride theory or the 5 day theory) – just a couple of weekend trips nearby for the usual – a wedding, a birthday party, a baby shower. All fun, all looked forward to, but all not vacations. Now a destination wedding is a different matter! Although I have to admit that a wedding in Washington, D.C. would be more of a vacation than one in Arkansas.

Over the years, I have been on some fantastic vacations – I have had some wonderful experiences and made some great memories.  Here are just a few from the last couple of years.

Crater Lake, Oregon - August 2011

Crater Lake, Oregon – August 2011

Relaxing with a Glass at Schmidt Family Vineyard - August 2011

Relaxing with a Glass at Schmidt Family Vineyard – August 2011

Gold Beach Whaler

Gold Beach Whaler – August 2011

Slate Run Living Farm

Slate Run Living Farm – Winchester, Ohio – August 2008

The Hanoi Taxi

The Hanoi Taxi – National Museum of the U.S. Air Force, Dayton, Ohio – August 2008

The front entrance of Hearst Castle

Hearst Castle – San Simeon, CA – August, 2010

See, no snow on the sidewalks (or the roads)

Antietam National Battlefield – Sharpsburg, MD – February, 2008

The Biltmore Estate

The Biltmore Estate – Asheville, NC – June 2012

The Joseph Manigault House - Built in 1803 - Federal Style Architecture

The Joseph Manigault House – Charleston, SC – June 2012

Savannah's Colonial Cemetery

Savannah’s Colonial Cemetery – Savannah, GA – June 2012

Benson Vineyards and Estate Winery Patio Seating

Benson Vineyards and Estate Winery – Manson, WA – September 2012

An Elk Herd

Elk Feeding Area, near Hamilton, WA, September 2012

Male California Quail at Point Reyes National Seashore

California Quail at Point Reyes National Seashore – Point Reyes Station, CA – March 2013

Harbor Seal Outside Monterey Bay Aquarium

Harbor Seal – Monterey, CA – March 2013

The Lone Cypress - Estimated Age 250 Years

The Lone Cypress – near Pebble Beach, CA – March 2013

So, how about you? What defines a vacation?

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13 thoughts on “When is a Vacation Not a Vacation?

  1. I agree with your definition of vacation – it should have a destination, by plane, train or car – but it should be away from home. I had to take a few “stay-cations” as you called them, but only because I had some unused vacation days which would otherwise expire – every time I stay at home for “vacation” I end up being frustrated even then before looking at all the stuff
    which I was supposed to do and having done pretty much none…

    • I know! I always feel like my day was wasted when I’m at home thinking I should be getting around to doing a project, but just can’t find the motivation to do it. I am better off just being away from home! Here’s to vacations! I need one!

  2. Thanks for adding the images here – a great way to round out the post. So, agree on the word vacation. To me, if you’re visiting family, sticking around home, or taking a long weekend, it’s more of “time off of work”. Here’s to more vacations in our lifetime!

  3. Your pictures are great!
    I once had a timeshare salesman tell me that I had
    “visits” not “vacations,” since my trips normally involve going to see family or friends. However, I just went London where I stayed with friends, so it was a visit and a vacation for me!

    • Thank you! I needed a little pick me up reminder of the great vacations I have had. I think a visit to family can be a vacation if two qualifiers are met; a) it must include a destination, and b) it can’t just be family stuff – there has to be some touristing!

  4. A vacation for me is any time away from the office. So I guess that includes staycations. Of course, my preference would be to be away from all work, not just office work. But I’ll take what I can.

    • My problem is that even if I were off work, I would look at the “work” around the house and that would just make me depressed. But if that were all I could get… it would be better than being at work! 🙂

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