Vacation Shaming? Knock It Off!

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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).

Stop with the Vacation Shaming!

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.

Releasing Sea Turtles in Cancun, Mexico

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.

Key West, FL

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.

Under water at Maji Moto in Tanzania

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.

Sunset Cruise in Key West, FL

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.

Stop it with the Vacation Shaming

10 thoughts on “Vacation Shaming? Knock It Off!

  1. What a great post! I absolutely know what you’re talking about here, and I love your comparison to jeans, purses, babies, etc. I live in Germany, and here one of the great things is that we HAVE to take our time off. As in, bosses often start emailing and calling people and scolding them at the beginning of November if people haven’t used up or applied for all their time off! But I still get the other questions you mentioned, and I get the feeling that some of my American Facebook friends think that I make a bunch of money (no way) because they often see me traveling. But for one, I scrimp in other aspects of my life like you said, and two, because I live in Germany, Italy is NOT THAT FAR AWAY! So if you see me in Italy one weekend and then Austria the next…it was possibly just a 3 hour drive or less. I’m from South Florida and nobody would wonder anything if you went to Orlando one weekend and then Miami the next, right? Okay, that’s my two (or perhaps ten) cents 😀 Happy travels!!!

    • Mags

      Dana, your comment made my day. It’s all so true. I may need to move to Germany though. I really don’t understand how anyone fails to use their vacation time. America is so big it’s hard for us to wrap our brains around being able to drive to another country in just a few hours. We also tend to be a bit self centered and think that places like Italy and Austria are as exotic for everyone else as they are for us. lol.

  2. I love this post. Love love love it. I agree with everything SO much. The part about “congrats on your new baby…how can you afford that?” made me legit lol AND nod my head furiously in agreement. I hate that question so much! I’m so cheap it’s ridiculous, and I’ve been driving the same car for 10 years (with way more to go, since I take care of it), and I only shop when there are literally holes in my clothes. But I still get the question more than my friends who just bought their 3rd new car in 6 years, AND they are broke. I just don’t get it.

    I’m new to your blog and I haven’t read anything else yet, but this post itself makes me want to be friends with you right now. Needless to say, I’m pretty sure I’ll like the rest of your blog. 🙂
    Bailey K. recently posted…Reducing Stress while TravelingMy Profile

    • Mags

      Thank you so so much. I get so little sympathy for this in my regular life, I figured fellow travelers would understand. And you’re a fellow traveler and big dog lover, we should definitely be friends!

  3. Els

    Like your comparison with jeans, purses, … I have recently quit my job, cause I was tired of not having enough days to travel. (and I had about 25/year, which isn’t too bad) Instead I started freelancing and doing the odd job here and there. A lot of people consider me as “mad” , cause unfortunately in our western society, it’s still all about “having a good job to build a nice house and own an expensive car” I am probably financially poorer than a lot of people, but I feel emotionally so much richer!!
    Els recently posted…Come with me and discover unspoilt TenerifeMy Profile

    • Mags

      I hear you, and a lot of people get a lot less than 25 days per year. It’s just sad. For what it’s worth, I think you’ve got the right idea. Work enough to live the life you want outside of work! There’s no reason to let a job define you. What do you need money for if you have no time to spend it?

  4. People are incredibly nosy about stuff that really is none of their business! I’ve gotten the marriage questions, the baby questions, and (now that I’m both married and have a child), more baby questions. Ugh. I started a travel blog last year, so–like you–I travel a lot and talk about it even more. Of all of the nosy questions I get asked, I’d rather talk about how I afford travel a million times more than when I’m going to have another kid.
    Natalie recently posted…5 Plantations You Must See in LouisianaMy Profile

    • Mags

      I hear you. I’m 28 and have been listening to the marriage and baby question for more years than I’d care to admit! It’s a little disheartening to hear that it doesn’t stop after you get married and have a baby. I can’t imagine what makes people think it’s any of their business.

  5. […] also travel, a lot.  In fact, I travel a lot more than I work at traditional “jobs.”  I know, travel is something that is to be earned for exactly one week and only after an entire year of sacrifice and grueling labor at a job you […]

  6. […] do you afford that?!”  Usually followed by a judgemental “must be nice”, which I hate, but if you’re one of the people who genuinely wants to know how to save hundreds of dollars […]

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