The Vacation Fallacy – Part 2

In wonderfully coincident timing, the Farnam Street Blog recently published a piece (click here) on how to think about your travel experiences. Their thesis aligns with mine (confirmation bias alert) in that vacation should be used as an opportunity to experience the diversity of the world and promote different perspectives. In keeping with their theme of mental models, they propose two ways of thinking:

1) Algebraic equivalence – realizing that different approaches can sum to the same value. Different cultures may have different definitions for things you take for granted. For example, some cultures place less emphasis on working life than we do in Canada. They may feel that other factors are more important to lead the meaningful and successful life we all seek. Experiencing this can be powerful enough to make you re-evaluate your own relationship with work and the meaning it creates for you.

2) Galilean Relativity – altering your point of reference, allowing you to make new observations. By getting outside of your routine environment, you are bound to notice new things about how societies, nature, transit, etc., operate. Gaining new perspectives and insights is one of the highlights of the travel experience.

They conclude their article with a few recommendations to help us get the most out of travel. These include journaling, not over-planning, deliberate goal setting, and having a growth mindset. All great advice! I encourage you to check it out.

The Vacation Fallacy

Disclaimer: I love vacations. I really do.

Vacations aren’t achieving what you think they are. If your life was just the way you wanted it, you would only go on vacation for one reason; to experience the richness and diversity the world has to offer.

This is not why most of us take vacations. We want to take a break, reset, refresh, get away.

What is it that we want to get away from? We fool ourselves by thinking we are trying to escape our jobs, our daily tasks, our house cleaning, our commutes, the so-called rat race.

The trouble is, these will be eagerly awaiting our return. Nothing really changes.

We are attempting to escape ourselves, if only for a few days. But rest assured, your mind will travel with you. And the really sticky point is that once you arrive in your hallowed sanctitude, your mind is not burdened by needing to board a return flight to make a quick trip back to work, unmet demands, that pile of laundry, that argument with your sister.

Vacation is a concept, an ideal. It’s a promise to yourself that, for a brief time in the foreseeable future, you will shed the trappings of your everyday thoughts. It’s a promise that will most likely be broken.

It doesn’t have to be this way. If you can accept your today, and every day thereafter, for what it is, you’ll have nothing to escape. Now that’s a challenge! It’s actually THE challenge, for all of us, all the time.

Do this, and vacations will be what they ought to be, an enrichment of your human experience. Then once they are past, the memories can be enriched even more in the telling and re-telling.

Bon voyage!