I was pleasantly surprised when a few of my friends didn’t know what the difference between travelling and holidaying is. Every time I finished a conversation or chat with them they’d go “Alright, enjoy your holidays then”. In response when I say that I’m travelling and am not on a holiday they were like “Oh well it’s the same, what’s the big difference? You are having a great time anyway”. So this post is for all of those who don’t really know how different the two (Travel and Holiday) are and that when next time someone says they are travelling, you don’t come across as ignorant and say “Have a good vacation or Have a great holiday.”

To begin with holidays or vacations, which we all are for sure craving for whilst being locked down, are as simple as going on a break from your everyday routine of life/work. You might go to a new place or to somewhere you’ve been before, to perhaps relax, de-stress, try some activities, try new foods or just for a change of place. After all of which you go back to doing what you were doing before and continuing the routine of life again, but with a little more refreshed energy & excitement.

A holiday is not supposed to be challenging, or educational. It’s supposed to be easy. To go on holiday is to visit may be one or two destinations during the whole time and not do much or anything at all. Something like going to a tropical beach resort, sun bathing by the pool & ordering cocktails served in coconuts and getting sunburnt for a week. It might mean renting a waterfront villa in Santorini or Mallorca. Or it might just mean camping out in Yosemite for a weekend.

Travelling on the other hand, which most people say is a journey of self discovery, a spiritual journey to know what you mean to yourself, something that allows you to think, question yourself, find answers etc etc. To an extent all of that might be true however for me “Travelling is a simple journey not to discover yourself but to remind yourself who you have been all along.” What does that mean??

Travelling to me is a life lesson, it’s a skill that you acquire only by doing it. It is a challenge that involves getting out of your comfort zone, taking chances and taking risks. Traveling means staying in hostels and befriending other travelers, as well as locals. It means drinking with the locals at neighbourhood bars rather than within the tourist club circuit. Travelling means you Walk, bike and take public transportation like the locals.

You eat, drink and live like a local. If language is a barrier, you learn key phrases and attempt to start and finish conversations in the native language. It may seem silly but you’ll be appreciated for trying. Travelling, whilst most of the time is exciting, a lot of times it is frustrating, sometimes infuriating to the point you ask yourself why you even are doing it. It isn’t always fun. It isn’t always relaxing. But it is extremely memorable, and very often life-changing.

Travelling is full of downsides. No one loves battling with taxi drivers to try to get themselves somewhere without being too badly ripped off, specially at night. No one enjoys long haul overnight bus journeys. No one craves the risks of food poisoning eating something unknown. Sometimes you get tired of the uncertainty of travelling, of not knowing where you’ll be staying the next night, or how you’ll even get there.

However t’s not always negative; there are plenty of positives and more often than not there are more pros than cons. You make plenty of friends when you travel, specially when you’re thrown together with random people in a strange land. You learn things about other cultures, other people, other travellers, about our planet, that a trip to a beachside resort or a waterfront Miami villa will never teach you. You also learn, crucially, about yourself when you travel – what you’re capable of, what you love, what you hate, what inspires you, what angers you, how you react and more. In other words, it makes you realise who you really are.

My Central & South American journeys have been by far the most challenging of all my travels. Imagine talking to people who don’t speak a word of English. Even simple words like bus, cash, atm, water, food, bread, sugar, here, there etc all have to be mentioned in Spanish. Specially when crossing borders and explaining the immigration officials, ah it’s been fun. Despite this I’ve had hour long conversations with some people. I’ve become friends with some of them and I’ve had dinner dates with a few. I have arrived at places where I didn’t know where to stay. And at places I’ve stayed I’ve come across various kinds of people, some very very cool ones while some others that made me feel not so safe and uncomfortable.

I’ve eaten all sorts of food, from Pupusas to Galle Pintos, plenty of local beers and so far have never craved for anything. The last time I had Indian food was in a friends house in Tampa, about 90 days back. While travelling for longer durations, your health is extremely important. You don’t want to fall sick even a little cuz it makes the whole journey unimaginable. Imagine you have fever or headache in some random place where you know no one and having to deal with it. I alternated between buying fresh food at the markets and eating street food. Sometimes I splurge in a nice restaurant. To be flexible is the key. And some days I had just go on a fruit n water only diet to cleanse myself.

On another note, while holidays are planned and chilled out, travelling has no plans at all. You might have a rough idea of where you’ll be and what you’ll do but mostly you just pick up cues from others and go with the flow. If you like a place you stay longer or you just move on. For some lucky ones, including me, the holidays or travels are very long and for some unfortunate ones they neither get to travel nor have a holiday. Don’t be that one. Real travel is not just about seeing new things, but it is also about seeing things with a new and refreshed perspective

So when the world reopens again I’d say go on, go pack your bags, go get those stamps on your passport, create your own life-changing experiences or just figure out who you really are. Just go TRAVEL !!!

P.S. This post was drafted when I was in Morocco, not knowing how the world would flip upside down in a matter of days. As of now we all know travelling is out of bounds for a while and even when things ease a bit, it will not be the same anymore. However there are some determined ones out there who would keep going no matter what, for them travelling isn’t a holiday, it’s a passion. You know who you are 🙂