english majors

Why You Don’t Mess With English Majors

About to board for our Norway trip.

So, we’re leaving on this big expedition to the Galapagos tomorrow, right? I’ve spent my day packing and cleaning and writing out luggage tags and running errands. I have to get up at 4 a.m. to start this journey, but I have so much to do to finish getting ready that I am already acknowledging that tomorrow is going to be a triple shot latte followed by two Cokes kind of day. Still, I am excited. I love travel. Love it. Once we get to the airport, I will be in my happy place.

Anyway, yesterday I was at a party for a friend and someone asked me if I was excited about our upcoming vacation. Clearly this particular friend hasn’t known me for very long.

“It’s a trip,” I corrected him.

He stared at me blankly.

“Oh. Steve said you guys were going on a family vacation,” he said, puzzled by my distinction.

“Oh. It’s a family vacation for Steve. For me, it’s a family trip.”

He furrowed his eyebrows.

“You see, my kids are coming with me. Since my career is as a full-time, stay-at-home parent, any traveling I do with my children is not technically a vacation for me. According to the dictionary definition, a vacation is a freedom or release from work. If my work is there, it’s a trip. You know, just like if you traveled for your job it would be a trip and not a vacation,” I explained.

“But, you’re going to the Galapagos Islands,” he said. “I think most people would call that a vacation.”

“I’m sure most people would. I would not. If you went to London for work, would you call it a vacation?” I asked.

“No.”

“If you went to London to see the Olympics, would you have to file for vacation time from work?”

“Of course,” he replied.

“See….that’s just it. I don’t file for vacation time because it’s not a vacation,” I continued. “It’s a trip. I’m bringing my work along.”

“But it’s the same thing,” he said.

“It’s not the same thing. For me, a vacation is when I’m away from my children. For you, a vacation is when you’re away from work,” I tried again.

“But, when you’re away from home doesn’t it feel like vacation?” he pressed.

“Not really because it’s actually easier to parent my kids at home than it is when we travel. When we travel there are all sorts of distractions and new issues. There’s no routine. Things are more chaotic, which sometimes makes work more difficult.”

At this point, I sensed his eyes starting to roll to the back of his head, so I dropped the subject and moved on. Clearly, he was not going to understand where I was coming from. I’m not entirely sure, in fact, that anyone but a fellow stay-at-home parent could understand my distinction between the two words at this point in my life. It’s an issue of semantics. I get that. Someday, when my boys are grown and I am without them more than with them, I’m sure my terminology will go back to the more standard and readily acceptable. Someday, when I vacation with my sons (and maybe even their families), the journeys will truly be vacations because I will have more freedom to enjoy myself and fewer responsibilities. For now, though, I’m sticking with calling this a “trip.” Don’t misunderstand me. It’s going to be an amazing, incredible, once-in-a-lifetime trip, but it’s still a trip…even if my work doesn’t fit into my laptop case.