Taking ‘Vacation’ from ‘Vacation’: Can you Actually do that?

We have recently returned from our three-week driving trip. During our time away, others often referred to our excursion as ‘vacation.’ This small, innocuous-seeming word began to grate away at me. Once people retire, can their travel justly be called ‘vacation’? This word no longer seemed appropriate to describe our trips away (especially this one, which included many of the same tasks and activities that we did at home….only with different scenery and very different weather).

I turned to the Cambridge dictionary.

“Retirement: the act of leaving your job and stopping working.”

And:

“Vacation:  a time when someone does not go to work or school but is free to do what they want, such as travel or relax.”
(http://dictionary.cambridge.org)

You can nitpick these definitions for donkey’s years, but if defined as above, both words center on “stopping working” and the “freedom to do what you want” (at least for a period of time). So in that regard, retirement itself can be seen as a ‘vacating’ of sorts. Hmmm, that means I would be taking ‘vacation’ from ‘vacation.’ This is not to imply that retirement is not a very busy, active and meaningful time (I find it incredibly so).  I couldn’t put my finger on it, but ‘vacation’ from ‘retirement’ just seemed wrong.

I placed the dictionary aside and turned to Google where I was sure I would find a quick answer. After typing the words ‘retirement’ and ‘vacation’ in the search bar, using both narrow and broad phrases to go with my topic, and then scrolling through pages and pages of posts… the closest entries that I found were “retirement destinations,” “cheap ways to travel” and “Elderhostel.” Google totally failed me here (or my research skills have quickly atrophied in my post-work life)! Still I persevered. Several pages in, I was directed to blog posts asking if vacations were important in retirement. I mean absolutely no disrespect here when I say “duh”! My question was not whether one should take trips during retirement, but rather what these trips should be called.

I was about to give up on the whole topic and once again vow not to be so picky (yeah, right), when I saw a freshly posted blog entry entitled “No More Vacations.” In this post, the author argued that retirement brings the “freedom to stop taking vacations from something and instead be able to say “yes, we’d love to,” “yes, we’ll go,” “yes, we will be there.” Eureka!! I totally agree! My trips away are no longer a separation from my regular life, more appropriately they are an extension of my current freedom and exploring. Thanks to Janis my query has an answer to which I am quite satisfied.

As an aside, an amazing bonus of blogging on retirement is reading different retirement blogs and sharing that connection with others who are experiencing similar journeys!

What are your thoughts? I’d love to hear your point of view.

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Top Photo: A snapshot from our recent road trip                                    Bottom Photo: A snapshot from our daily life

17 Replies to “Taking ‘Vacation’ from ‘Vacation’: Can you Actually do that?”

  1. I was at first puzzled when I learned that the Portuguese word for ‘retired’ was ‘reformado’ for men, and of course, ‘reformada’ for women. I was thinking in English of the word ‘reform’, until I realised that it is a ‘false cognate’ and simply means ‘re-made’, and allows you to do this with yourself in any way you please, from being a complete sloth to taking on a new career or interest. I like the implication of freedom of decision.

    1. Thanks so much for sharing this Andrea! I love the concept that retirement is a “rebirth” or “remaking”. This viewpoint of a “door opening” leads to endless possibilities for post-work life.

  2. Donna you are amazing to write these blogs about your new found adventures in retirement! We are the same however…people say to us are you vacationing south again this winter…..we reply no it is not a vacation…..it is our winter home and life style! I agree retirement is the freedom to do as we please when we please! So enjoy everyday as a new adventure…..

    1. Hi Georgia. I really appreciate your regular comments! I agree that “lifestyle” and “winter homes” are much better words for some of our retirement travel. Thanks again for following.

  3. I was listening to a Retirement “expert” yesterday who was saying we just need a new word for this stage of life. While he’s been trying to do that for 20 years, retirement seems to be the word still. (He preferred reinvention. )

    We are heading away in a few weeks on “spring break” which also feels like a weird term since we are not working. But I rationalized it as a break from the cold, gray winter weather. Our friends joining us are on break from work and school, so it is vacation for them. But I’m sticking with Spring Break for us!

    And our next trip is just a long weekend jaunt.

    So many new terms to explore as I start my travel adventures.

    1. Thanks Pat! I hadn’t thought of the need for a new word for ‘retirement’ but that definitely makes sense (especially since many definitions and connotations of the words are incredibly outdated). Enjoy your March Break…and your weekend jaunt!
      Donna

  4. When I am fishing I am always on Vacation, my latest ski trip was my second after retiring for a second time. But…this last ski trip was really a treat because I was on E.I.!!! Vacation? Retirement? Don’t really care as long as I am doing something I like!!!

    1. Thanks Sam – I agree that doing what you love (both during your career, and during your retirement) is what is most important. I need to admit my ignorance (and my ‘long-time- overseas-ness’) and say that I was not sure what you meant by skiing E.I. Employment Insurance? Extreme Ironing? (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gkxwcpdFyw0). If the latter, definitely send pics!! Thanks for commenting, I greatly appreciate it.

  5. Thoughts to ponder for sure Donna. I just know that A break in the weather, an adventure, exploring other parts of the country/world, recreation outside of our routine – all still seem like vacation times to me now that I’ve retired, Love that I can pick the time to do it and love that it makes me even more appreciative of my everyday life. Blessed.

  6. You are right, Debbie, whatever we call it, we definitely are blessed! I hope that your recent ‘break’ turned out very well. I can’t wait to catch up soon!

    1. ‘Encores’, ‘voyages’, ‘wanderings’, ‘bliss’…retirement definitely is an incredible time. Thanks so much for commenting Lynn. I greatly appreciate your point of view.

  7. Well, you know how I feel about “vacations”! 🙂 I love: “My trips away are no longer a separation from my regular life, more appropriately they are an extension of my current freedom and exploring.” Perfect! By the way, my favorite word for “retirement” is the Spanish translation “jubilacion.” If you aren’t jubilant in retirement, you’re doing it wrong!

    1. Hi Janis. Thanks so much for your original post, and for the word ‘jubilacion’. I LOVE that Spanish translation — and will definitely be using it in the future.

  8. I’m studying Spanish in my quest to become finally fluent and also love the translation of retirement as jubilación! I think of traveling not as a vacation (as in to vacate or get away from your life), but as an education/the chance to embrace a new experience and meet new people. I’ve taken to telling people I’m not actually retired (although I had to officially retire from my teaching position) as I’m busier than ever as an Airbnb host.

  9. I’m studying Spanish in my quest to become finally fluent and also love the translation of retirement as jubilación! I think of traveling not as a vacation (as in to vacate or get away from your life), but as an education/the chance to embrace a new experience and meet new people. I’ve taken to telling people I’m not actually retired (although I had to officially retire from my teaching position) as I’m busier than ever as an Airbnb host.

    1. Hi Jan – I love the idea of replacing the word ‘vacation’ with “education’ or ’embracing’. Thanks so much for commenting.
      I am interested in hearing more about your experiences as an Airbnb host — you should post about that on your blog!

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