To Travel, or to Vacation, That is the Question

US Wealth Napolitano |

By: Tom Schulte, CFP®


The amount of reality television I have been consuming would be concerning if not for one thing: the beautiful settings in which this filmed trash takes place. Episodes of HGTV’s Caribbean Life and Bravo’s Below Deck have effectively eradicated any COVID boredom, but amplified the need to explore outside of my 500sqft apartment. It’s no secret that most of us share my same feelings and desire to travel somewhere. However with my time spent pondering trips and pastimes, I have come to the conclusion that there are two types of people: travelers and vacationers. Which one are you?

Personally, there is nothing I love more than vacationing. I thoroughly enjoy flying to the same places, even so far as connecting in the same airports (shout-out to Charlotte Douglas International and its rocking chair-lined halls) , sleeping in the same rooms, eating at the same restaurants, playing the same golf courses, etc. I’ve

touched on this years ago regarding our family routine on Hilton Head Island and each wonderful afternoon being capped off with The Masters tournament coverage. 

On the other hand, there are travelers. Travelers/traveling makes more sense on paper. We all have a finite amount of time on earth, let alone time to go somewhere, finite resources and so on—it makes sense to do and see as much as possible. The telltale sign of a traveler: daily itineraries of activities. While these lists may be the bane of my existence, I have close friends that cannot function without them. My issues with traveling purely spring from the unknowns. What if we get lost and waste a day? What if we are completely uninterested in seeing a specific attraction? What if we are supremely disappointed?

This brings me back to our travels to Thailand just over a year ago (notice the use of ‘travel’). One of our activities that day, which was memorialized on a chronologically ordered printed list, brought us deep into the jungles, where of course our tour bus broke down. The temperature was pushing 100 degrees Fahrenheit and flies began descending on us. I was downright miserable. All I could think about were the things I would rather be doing with my time in Thailand. Looking back at it now, it pains me that I didn’t make the most of it by wandering around the nearby small town. I blame it on the travel-funk.

Over the past few months I have argued with friends and family alike over which state of being is best when going on a trip. Now I would like to bring that same question to you all: are you a traveler or a vacationer & why?