If you google vacation shaming, you’ll find many pieces on why it’s unfair to vacation shame the president. I know because I just googled “vacation shaming” in hopes that I made it up. While it may not be as original a concept as I had hoped, vacation shaming is certainly real and it needs to stop. It needs to stop for the POTUS (his job is pretty high stress, he’s earned it), and it needs to stop for the rest of us (whether we’ve earned it or not).
If you’re reading this, chances are you’re at least mildly interested in travel, which means you’ve probably witnessed the vacation shaming phenomenon first hand.
The worst offenders of course, for those of you that have full time jobs, are your employers. The ones you have to gain permission from before heading out on your next adventure. This is somewhat understandable. I get it, you have to work harder to schedule someone in my absence, but don’t have a “request-off” procedure and then get mad when people use it. In fact, I was recently politely asked to leave a job because I took too many days off. I can sort of understand, for every person like myself that’s gone as much as possible there are a hundred weirdos that pride themselves on never using their allotted vacation days. If that’s what a company is looking for than we are simply not a good fit. Alas, someone else will have to make sure those mid-western businessmen get their Coors Light.
That sounded bitter, but it’s not. I’m actually pretty cool with it. The worst of the vacation shamers are just regular people, your friends, family, and coworkers. You have literally no obligation to these people. It’s absolutely none of their business how often you’re traveling. Yet, I still hear things like;
“Oh, you’re going on vacation again?”
“I’m surprised you’re here. I look at your Facebook and you’re like always out of town” (That one is especially great because it’s for vague acquaintances that are extra not entitled to an opinion on the matter)
“Are you dating someone in the travel industry?”
and my personal favorite,
“How can you afford that?”
Let’s talk about this last one. It’s mostly a tone that’s hard to get across in a blog post. I have absolutely no problem with people that ask “how can you afford that?” out of a genuine curiosity and desire to emulate my lifestyle. That’s great and I love giving people travel tips, helping them find cheap flights, etc. It’s when they ask, “how can YOU afford that?” that we have a problem.
Here’s the big secret… How do I afford that? I just do it. I don’t have kids, I don’t wear designer clothes, I drive a 2004 Toyota, I live in a very affordable house, and I set up what I called my ‘impulse travel fund’ when I was 18 years old. It’s not a big fund and I deplete it all the time, but I try to find good deals and travel as cheaply as possible and I don’t splurge in other areas of life. Like everything else in life, it’s all about priorities.
Here’s my problem. Travel is the only area I can think of where this is at all considered an appropriate question.
- “Cute purse…. how can you afford that?”
- “I love your jeans, how can you afford them?”
- “Congratulations on your new baby…. how can you afford that?” (way more expensive that traveling btw)
- “Thanks for inviting me to your house warming. How could you possibly afford to buy a house?”
- “I got your wedding invitation. Of course I’ll be there, but tell me… how are you paying for it?”
- “College? That’s pretty expensive, are you sure you can afford it?”
Super rude right? And a lot of those things cost way more than I spend on traveling. So what makes it okay to ask anyone how they afford traveling? Most of us are not trust fund babies or working some fancy job. Just look at pinterest. It’s full of “how I afford to travel” and “how I traveled the world on $x a day”. Most of those will be stories of people who made the conscious decision that they wanted to see the world and then did it in the most cost effective way possible.
As Americans I think we need to change the way we think about traveling. It’s an investment in yourself. It’s more educational than anything you’ll learn in school. (Depending on what you’re going to school for… I don’t want my doctor to just have a year in Southeast Asia under his belt.) People spend plenty of money on self improvement, be it schooling or a gym membership. So why should I have to slink into my managers office and apologetically ask for another time off slip or be met with judgement when I say “sorry, I can’t… I’ll be out of town?”
Vacationing should be celebrated, not shamed. I promise I’ll come back a better person.