Vacation is something that many of us see as a necessary part of life. Every year in the summer the airports are flooded by tourists who go for their yearly trip around the world, like it’s the most normal thing in the world. Rarely do people realise how few people in the world go, or have gone on vacation.
It is a typical phenomenon presented to us by consumerism. The idea that we should go far away abroad for a vacation has only emerged in the second half of the past century. Before that people just remained at home, perhaps visiting some family across the country occasionally.
Summer houses of the rich
Though most people wouldn’t be able to afford to travel in the past, the rich have always been travelling. However, their perception of vacation has also changed over the years. In the past the rich would build a nice summerhouse somewhere far outside the city, to escape the bad conditions that one would find in there during summer. A summerhouse was thus not merely for vacation, but also just to escape the poor living conditions of the city. However it still wasn’t common for rich people to make a big trip across the world or even across the continent for a vacation. Obviously, in the past transportation methods were much slower, thinking of sailing ships and horse carriages.
The 20th century and consumerism
However in the 20th century things started to shift. People in the west started to get access to modern inventions like aeroplanes, making fast travel possible. This way one could go to their wooden summer houses in the mountains and be back in only a days travel to get back to work and normal life. But also cars and trains suddenly allowed for faster transport over land. These things allowed the rich to make trips quite easily. However the 20th century is also a century in which a lot of people moved out of poverty to a life in the middle class, allowing them to have some extra money to spend. This money started to get spent more and more often on vacations. If I listen to my grandma for example, who was born in the 30s, when she was young it was not at all usual to go on vacation. In the 50s she made a few trips and when she got children they at some point bought a boat to be able to travel around the Rhine. Yearly trips abroad to exotic islands were not yet the order of the day.
Perhaps we can do without
It is important to realise that we can do perfectly fine without going to exotic islands every year. We tend to think that we have to escape our normal life sometimes, however, like Seneca put it, if you have problems and try to run from them by travelling, you will only bring them along with you. Let’s not overestimate the importance of our yearly vacations and sometimes, just, stay home.