Why a journey is no holiday

Do you think a journey is like a holiday, just a bit longer? Then you will be surprised in one way or another.

The spoilt for choice or why a journey is no holiday!

Most of us never had a longer time, in which they could decide by their own, what they want to do each day or not.

In day-to-day life work dominates our daily thought. We´re used to follow the directives of other people, for e.g. from teachers, officials or principals. In the end it`s very exceptional, that we have to make our own decisions. Our daily routine is organized by others.

We have only at the weekends a change to choose by our own how we spend our time and to be honest, even at the weekend we`re still not 100% free in our decisions. Family celebrations, encounter with friends and books or movies are on the to-do list.

If you start a long journey, this will change completely. You`re allowed, but as well you have to, organize each day by yourself. During the journey you`re as independent and free as possible. But this fascinating idea can suddenly scare you during the trip. We`re recognize, how use we are to spend our time following the directives of others.


However on a journey all these control (or maybe rather guidance?) by others collapses: You and only you decide, what you want to do today and where you want to travel tomorrow or whether you want to stay longer! Or…

Left or right?

Most of us will note then, that we have unlearnt to let things simply happen! It will take you some time to learn again, that not everything is predictable, that you shouldn`t plan longer as you really need to and that it is the impact of the journey to escape the elaborate everyday life, to allow yourself to let your hair down and drift away.

Even today after being on a journey for more than one year now, I catch myself planning too much into the future. The result of these plans is mostly, that I constrict my own freedom for the next weeks without any reasonable reason.

At the very first moment it feels quite good to decide: In two weeks I want to be there and in three weeks there…A plan is born! Amazing.

At the next moment I recognize, that I kick my own freedom away for the next weeks. I force myself to be at some places at a certain time, which also means that I decided that all the places in between are not worth a longer visit or a visit at all.

The journey – in the way as most of us dreamed before the start – the unlimited freedom – won`t really be free until you learnt to listen inside yourself and just do what you really want to do and not at any cost that, what you sometime intended to do or what`s written in the guide book.

Too much scheduling could lead to a “travel Burn Out” or to disappointments. A journey is not a holiday and therefore it`s not possible to do sightseeing every day for month.

We became travelers because holidays have been always too short to explore the countries and their people. To do that you have to spend more time and you should travel a bit more off the route. From time to time it overcomes me against my better judgment. A Guide book is lend quick and then it starts:

Oh I have to go there and there! And in between?

This „in between“ reprobates to a necessary affliction, that you have to cross, to reach the “aim”. But most of the time the “intermediate sections” provide surprising and unprecedented things not overcrowded by tourists!


When I have a look at the terracotta army in real, than it`s gorgeous but not a bit surprising. I can see what I have seen before on pics. But if I drive on such a “intermediate section” through a valley in Laos, which is just stunning beautiful and I decide to stay there for a few days, than everything what will happen will be a real surprise – I do have no expectations or demands.

The experience has taught me: If I have too many impressions in a short time and I let myself no time to process them, then this will lead to a mental overload and in the worst case to travel dullness.

We had this experience in China, where a lot of time pressure (due to the guided tour) forced us to drive in a crazy speed through the country. The atmosphere got more and more annoyed, more and more of the sightseeing program was canceled by us and as we arrived after one month at Laos, we all needed several days of rest to recover.

The “normal” tourist has often one year to process with his impressions from a holiday 2 to 4 weeks long, but travelers haven`t. There are new impressions every time.

It´s quite easy to avoid a „Travel Burn Out“: Travel slow, with not too many aims in advance. Take a lot of breaks. We travel to have more time than we have at holidays and to see more than postcard motives.

Let yourself time to get surprised! Lay your guide book aside.


Move slowly and avoid additional stress through flights, use a slower transport like a train. That will give you some time to handle all the new influences.

To be one a journey is not the same as to be on holiday. Journeys could be exhausting, but what you see and experience is worth it.

To my mind, traveling means: to embark on unknown, new things, to talk with the inhabitants and thereby to learn to understand yourself and the world a little bit better.

Or am I wrong?


The voyage of discovery is not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.

Marcel Proust (1871 – 1922)