Why I Don’t Take Vacations

I’m writing this while sitting on a chair hurtling through the atmosphere at 600 mph, 40,000 feet above the ground, going somewhere that is not for direct work. Actually, the purpose is entirely contrary to work but to step back and reevaluate the chaos that is my work. Yet, I’m not taking a vacation. I actually despise the word vacation.

But how is this possible? Some people may notice that I’m on the road a lot. That’s right. Since stepping away from day to day patient care about eight months ago, I’ve been to 28 different cities and 10 different countries. Not as much as one of my partners in crime, Dr. DeBell, but enough to take notice.

Most of this has been work related, but not all of it. I can tell you for sure that none of this has been a vacation. I don’t believe in vacations. I believe in travel.

You may argue that I’m being a stickler for semantics. Bear with me. The careful use of words and language has been on my mind as I try to use this website as a way to improve my writing skills beyond a third-grade level.

Let’s get some anchors set here.

Vacation: An attempt to temporarily escape from current reality.
Travel: An accumulation of experiences separate from current reality.

I see vacation like an escape as a result of not attempting to shape your current life the way you want it, whereas travel is part of enriching experiences as part of your life.

I understand that this may be a tad confusing, so let’s break this down. I am all over the place, almost constantly, but this an integration into my current life that improves it. I also “work” far more than I did when I did not live like this, so it’s not like I’m living some lavish lifestyle.

As I’ve talked about before, I think you have to ask “why” several times and have good answers as to why you do anything. Here are the top reasons why I’ve decided to incorporate travel into my life the way I do.

1: Perspective
Having a home base in San Francisco is great. There are tons of 26-36 year-old progressive hipsters who are into eating well, working super hard and staying healthy. Wait, that’s pretty much exactly me, right?

While I consider a bubble of like-minded people good for reasons like having a lot of coffee shops that I like around me, that isn’t how the world works. There’s danger in ideologies and complacency when people double down on “us vs. them” mentalities.

I get out of my shell and travel to expose myself to as many different perspectives as possible. This keeps me humble, grateful and reminds me how amazing different points of view can be.

If you’re just taking a vacation, it’s surprisingly easy to remain your echo chamber, be somewhere completely different, but never shift your perspective. I travel to break this barrier, not to stay inside it and look out at “foreigners” when I’m on the road.

2: Routine Breaking Increases Focus
Routine rules a lot in my life, which can be a great scaffolding to success. But too much routine and you have a lot of gaps filled with complacency and filler in my opinion.

Everyone is different, but I know I’m most productive and mentally stimulated when I keep a skeleton of my routine yet change settings on a whole. This leads to minimalist attitudes that wouldn’t be possible if I were deeply rooted in one place.

Examples of daily routine while home or on the road include meditation, movement, organizing my day and life through journals and ridiculous amounts of spreadsheets and reading.

Forcing myself to work and be productive while traveling allows me to be trained and produce in environments that might otherwise distract me. At a coffee shop and construction going on outside? At an airport with a million stressed people coming and going? This is now one of my most productive places on the planet.

You can either see disruption and different environments as a distraction or use them to practice focusing and creating in any environment.

If you’re taking a vacation, you’re not improving your routine on any level. You’re escaping from it because you likely hate it, only to be terrified to go back to it. When traveling you really have to hone in on what works and flex your routine muscles.

3: Interest Improves Learning
I’m a curious cat. This is probably why I try to do too many damn things at once (see here, here, here, here, here and more soon) and why I seemingly have ten thousand hobbies and interests but not the time or effort investment to be world class at any one thing.

This is also why the list of places I want to travel to and things I want to experience is essentially limitless. This constant drive to explore and see new things and learn about new cultures is pervasive into my work life as well.

New marketing techniques? New production needed for a new product line? This curiosity and repeated learning in unassociated topics increase my business skills substantially if I were to just focus on one specialty and not jump around like a mad man.

If I took a yearly vacation to some similar beach location, I would feel complacent and bored.

4: Ability and Impact
My current life is set up so I don’t have to be present to provide value and trade time for money like I used to. Not only do I prefer this lifestyle, I’m able to impact far more people this way. Being on the road limits sinking back to the day to day work that is rewarding, yet not impactful in the long term.

I have flexibility without any major payments like a house or car, I don’t have kids or anything keeping me in San Francisco on a constant basis. I’m “location independent” as all the hip new wantrepreneurs say. I’m also super fortunate to have the means to be on the road indefinitely. Both of these things may change with the snap of the finger, and I realize how temporary current situations may be. That being said, I’m taking advantage of the ability to expose myself to new experiences.

Some of you may think this should be a health and fitness website, what the hell is this article even trying to get at? Asking yourself if you’re distracting yourself from your day to day life with a vacation or increasing your perspective with travel is just another way to practice asking why.

This practice shouldn’t only be reserved for vacation or travel. Watching a TV show? Going to a social event? Why? Are you distracting yourself, or enriching your life and experience?

As I touch down in this remote location I’m heading to and unplug myself for the next week, I’ll do what I challenge others to do so frequently. I’ll take a break from engaging in the day to day insanity to ask why behind all of my actions.

With the current information and goals I have, does it make sense for me to do ABC in my personal life or XYZ in my business life? Maybe I’ll come to the conclusion that incessant travel no longer fits my goals and I’ll stop. I just know I won’t be distracting myself.