Learning To Sit Still – Travel As Adventure Or A Way To Relax?

Ritz Carlton Amelia Island, Florida

Last weekend my partner and I went on a sort of last minute trip down to Florida as a last hurrah before he starts a new job and as an exciting new chapter in our lives opens. I won’t go into the details, but this is a great opportunity for him to finally attain a certain level of work-life balance that he’s never enjoyed. The goal of the trip was to relax, enjoy ourselves and just have fun; it was especially important since it’ll be a while until he’s able to accrue enough time off for another trip. It’s hard for me to relax though, I’m really bad at it and I began to wonder if we as individuals are forever tied to our travel personalities?

After our first day on the lazy barrier island off of the Florida coast near Jacksonville, my partner looked at me and said, “That was a busy day! I mean, we relaxed but we had a ton of stuff to do.” And I promptly felt guilty. It was true, I had intended the day to be little more than a study in how to relax properly but instead I fashioned a schedule of fun. We had our pool time, meal times, spa times, snack times, official resting times and before I knew it we were having S’mores (organized in advance) on the beach as the sun set. It was a great day, but it was busy and heavily scheduled. That’s when I truly wondered if I can ever be one of those people who travels just to relax.

I love the concept of doing nothing but lying on a chair, listening to the waves crash onto shore as a cabana boy takes my drink order. It sounds like paradise, until I actually try it. The reality of it is that after ten minutes I start looking at my watch, wondering what there is to do. Even with a book and iPhone in tow this time rarely pushes above the one-hour mark. Instead I start wandering around, scouting out activities; things to do, places to visit, information to absorb. So, is it me or are there just two different types of travelers out there?

I have plenty of friends who plan their big yearly vacations to a nice tropical destination, they spend a week or so there and based on their Facebook updates they enjoy an active schedule of sleep, swimming, pool drinks and maybe miniature golf. Still other friends of mine plan weeklong biking holidays in Italy where they actually have to work on their time off. Not a beach ball or cabana in sight, yet they have just as much fun as my relaxing friends. So is it possible for the two groups to change and is there anything wrong with either style?

The pros of a relaxing vacation as I see them are fairly self-evident. People are able to relax, recharge, enjoy being with friends or family and to just get away from the petty business of everyday life. From what little I was able to relax while on Amelia Island, I can see the clear mental and physical benefits to this. I loved the fact that at 2pm on a Friday I was reading a book next to the pool and not worrying about the next conference call. That made me happy.

But then my active friends had a blast as well. They explored parts of Italy not many people get to see, ate great food, enjoyed some wine and they too would argue that they had a relaxing vacation. But it was busy, they had a schedule and it wasn’t what one traditionally considers to be a calming time away from work and the daily pressures of life.

In writing this I think I’m beginning to see the full picture. Both styles of travel are relaxing, in their own unique ways. They both offer the time to decompress, to “get away from it all” as it were, just in ways that are unique to the individual.

And that’s one of the things I love most about travel, how very personal it is. The experience is necessarily different for all of us, even if we were to magically all go to the same places and do the same things. And just as our perceptions are different, so are the ways in which we relax and that’s ok. So even though my partner commented on how busy we were, he actually wasn’t complaining. He had a great day, even if it was somewhat regimented. And I’ll keep planning my overly active trips because that’s how I enjoy to travel, even though a day or two next to a pool isn’t a bad thing at all.

What’s your unique travel style?

By: Matt Long

Matt has a true passion for travel. As someone who has a bad case of the travel bug, Matt travels the world in order to share tips on where to go, what to see and how to experience the best the world has to offer.

11 thoughts on “Learning To Sit Still – Travel As Adventure Or A Way To Relax?”

  1. I can relate to this. I love the concept of just doing nothing for a few days but in reality I get bored too quickly and need to go and do something. I generally come back from a holiday feeling more exhausted than before I went.

  2. “I love the concept of doing nothing but lying on a chair, listening to the waves crash onto shore as a cabana boy takes my drink order. It sounds like paradise, until I actually try it.” – Me too!
    I would probably last a while if I had a book with me, but then I’d rather do that at home. For me, travel is about exploring and engaging with a destination. If I’m not doing that, then I might as well save myself an airfare and the trouble of doing laundry in a sink and stay at home.
    But then I have many friends who will drink cocktails by a pool in Bali for three days straight and love every minute of it. To each their own :)

  3. I think except for the time we went on a cruise, we are the type who like to walk and see as much as possible.

    As Americans, we just do not have enough time to travel, especially since most of us get only 2 weeks off. So it’s this urge that I may never be back here again and therefore I must see it all. But I like that pace that we travel.

    If we got more time off (like 3 months) we might have a nice mix of both.

  4. I have a hard time with beach vacations and spending all that money to just sit around, which I can do at home for free (although with far less beautiful scenery to look at). I travel to explore, to learn about new places and cultures, to see and do things that I can’t do at home. I spend so much time organizing my trips and planning what I want to see- I need to make the most of every minute! Maybe I need to learn to relax a bit and let go. I often come home from a vacation so tired that I need another vacation!

  5. I need to learn to relax more. I’m usually exhausted after my vacations, but I enjoy doing everything I possibly can. When I came back from Iceland, I was so tired that I slept or 12 hours a day the next week. I really should plan a vacation in the mountains that only consists of hiking and fishing.

  6. I need a little of both when I take a trip. If I schedule every minute, I feel burned out by the end; but if I spend the whole time relaxing, I tend to feel like I missed out, and didn’t do enough. I usually try to find a balance. If I have enough time, I like to plan for a couple full, active days, and then finish the trip with some more chill time.

    1. Am with Jessica on this.

      I usually go away on vacation because I need to wind down from my stressful work and take a break from the routine. So more often than not, my destinations of choice would involve a beach.

      On the other hand, I am active person and each of my vacation day is always planned with a couple of hours of activities and then followed by a wind down session at a spa or lay in by the beach.

  7. I’m just like you, Matt. Put me in a beach chair and give me nothing to do, and within twenty minutes I’ll be complaining I’m bored! This is tricky because my partner is like your partner, and we travel together full time! Each to their own, I guess!

  8. I love to relax and do nothing and at times I am hyper active. I don’t think any kind of travel is wrong or right – it totally depends on your state of mind, company and the surroundings at that particular time

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