Trip vs. Vacation: Is There a Way to Have Both?


As I sit writing this, I’m recovering from several things. First, a flight from Tampa, Florida to Columbus, Ohio with not only my two rambunctious boys but also my 8-month-old nephew, his two doting parents and of course my husband. Secondly, seven days at the beach with my in-laws (who I love dearly in every possible way) and third, a whopper of a sinus infection caused by the aforementioned “vacation.”

Simply put, the word “vacation” conjures up the idyllic image of relaxing by the beach, toes in the sand, and a good book in your hand, right?


On one blistering 95-degree day during 10 minutes of relative calm in the pool (meaning we weren’t getting splashed in the face by other pool-enjoying patrons), my sister-in-law mentioned that we really weren’t on vacation; we were really on a “trip.” She went on to explain how “trips” involved kids and “vacations” were parents only. We had a good laugh, but later I couldn’t help thinking is it possible to have both?

I love my kids, I love my husband, and I love my family, but at times I couldn’t help but feel that there was a bit of merit to the idea of a trip vs. a vacation. How many beach bags did I carry up flights of stairs, how much sunscreen did I apply to little faces, how often did I wipe sand out of eyes or made PB&Js to take down to hungry kiddos? Was it really a vacation, or just a new place to do all the things I do at home… plus sand?

I realized later that night as I sat on the balcony overlooking the aquamarine water of the Gulf that while I may not have had all day to read on the beach, take a nap in the shade of the canopy or stroll on the beach while people watching and picking up shells, I did relax. I had those “vacation” moments while watching my kids build drippy sandcastles together, analyze the colors of the shells they found, and make memories as they splashed through the surf crashing into waves and falling down into fits of giggles.

I’m not saying that we don’t all deserve that “toes in the sand, book in my hand” vacation, but finding the moments where the “trip” does become a vacation is essential. So, if you’re heading out to the beach, mountains, lake, or theme park this summer, remember to find the little moments that turn that trip into a true vacation.