Is our “vacation self” also our best self?

Is our “vacation self” also our best self?

For five days on a sailboat with 10 guys, I woke up, brushed my teeth, washed my face and changed my bikini before going out to face a day of suntanning, laughing, swimming and drinking. I didn’t put on makeup, attempt to comb my hair or spend an ounce of energy worrying about my appearance–other than one brilliantly relaxing afternoon where my friend and I shaved our legs and massaged coconut oil in our hair on the top deck in the sunshine.

Christine Amorose and Jess Jones in the San Blas Islands on the Black Dragonfly

When we got to shore, the whole group planned a big night out in Cartagena. I slipped back into my regular downplaying routine, saying that I wouldn’t be able to look that good that night–that I didn’t have any makeup, that I only had flipflops. The guys stared at me blankly: “You haven’t worn any makeup all week, you look great, why would we expect anything different now?”

I realized then that they only knew me as a girl who didn’t think twice about rolling out of bed and jumping straight into the ocean. They had never seen me with makeup or in heels; they didn’t know what my last name was, let alone what my Facebook profile looked like. They had gotten used to a side of me that few of my friends have even seen: a girl who has absolutely nothing to lose by being exactly herself.

Christine Amorose and Jess Jones in Cartagena, Colombia

It made me wonder: who is the real me? The girl I am on vacation–the one who spends all day doing nothing but reading and chatting and laughing, who doesn’t even think about her email, who says “what the hell” and has a beer before noon? Or is it the woman I am at home–the one who swears by to-do lists and routines and punctuality, who can’t even leave her house without her iPhone, who has more quiet nights in than crazy ones out?

In the early stages of relationships, we tend to put our “best self” forward. Perhaps the same thing applies to our vacation selves. When we remove ourselves from the pressures and expectations of our daily life, we often let our best selves shine through: the ones who breathe, laugh, risk without worry or regret. Our best self might simply be who we are when we stop being afraid of what we should be doing, when we instead embrace exactly what we are doing: on the other side of fear is freedom.

Toes at sunset on the Black Dragonfly in the San Blas Islands

Vacation is defined as an extended period of recreation, especially one spent away from home or traveling. To me, it’s exactly that: a chance to recharge, relax, recreate who I want to be. It’s a chance to escape the identity that I’ve created for myself, both in real life and online and simply be myself. It’s an opportunity to get down to remember what’s important to me, but also to let loose and live for the moment.

Am I really that different in real life than I am on vacation? To be honest, I’m not sure. But I’ve also decided that it’s not a bad idea to try to spend a little time every day being more like my “vacation self.”

Do you find yourself becoming a different person while traveling?

Don’t worry: I’ll be writing plenty more about my time exploring Central and South America in the weeks to come!

  • Sounds like you and your vacation self had an amazing time! I’m so glad to hear it! I imagine Cartagena is quite pleasant this time of year; it was almost too hot when I was there :).

    I too am a different person while traveling… most notably, ironically enough, while I was in Central America backpacking. I hung out with guys and didn’t wear make-up and was the most laid back I’ve ever been. It was nice, too! I think experiences like that are necessary to remind us how easy it can be to just live and enjoy life. I may take more than 10 minutes to do my hair and have a daily to-do, but I’ve never let go of those lessons and try to integrate a little bit of my vacation self into my everyday life.

  • onelovemeg

    I am traveling without a straightener or blow dryer so I have become a completely different person. You are right though, people don’t know the “at home” girl they know the girl they meet on their travels. I think I am learning to just go with it.

  • I feel like my vacation self is definitely my best self. At home I tend to steer more towards the shy quiet side. When I’m out traveling, I’m meeting local people, hanging out with other travelers and learning about the world. I love it!

    P.S. Did you take the trip with Jan and A World of Sailing? I’m trying to go back around march sometime to take one of their trips.

  • Sarabell

    Wow, I’ve never thought about this before. I’ll be going on yet another mini trip soon so I’ll have to really pay attention.
    All I know is, this weekend we went to Yellowstone and took our first trip since getting pregnant. Vacation Sara pees just as much as works-from-home Sara, and that is quite a lot. Vacation Ryan has a hard time finding places to pull over in the open spaces of Wyoming, but he does his best.

  • I can relate to this SO MUCH, Christine. It’s exactly how I felt most of this summer – like I was a different person, but one that I liked so much better than my “normal self” at home. I’m trying to hang onto her.

  • Can I tell you how much I love these words “When we remove ourselves from the pressures and expectations of our daily life, we often let our best selves shine through: the ones who breathe, laugh, risk without worry or regret. Our best self might simply be who we are when we stop being afraid of what we should be doing, when we instead embrace exactly what we are doing: on the other side of fear is freedom.”

    I think you’re spot on. I’ve been thinking lately about why I like travel and my gut feeling is that it gives me an opportunity to escape reality. I don’t have to pay bills or mow the grass, do laundry or clean the bathroom. But maybe it is about more than that. Perhaps it really is about getting to be my “true” self because there is no one to hold me to some random set of expectations. What a liberating thought that is!

  • Jess Jones

    Yay! I loved Vacation Christine and shaving our legs together on the deck! And I love even more that you fell so comfortably in stride becoming a boat girl and throwing caution to the wind! I can totally relate babe, I didn’t become my vacation self over night. But somehow I think this is much closer to the ‘real me’ than the stiletto wearing, pretentious cocktail sipping gal you met back in Melbs. We’ll soon find out! Can’t wait for the other stories to be released!!

  • Ashlee Gadd

    I love every single word of this. Spot. On.

  • I always thought about this myself. I used to be the girl who took two car loads to college and then some because I was worried I wouldn’t have enough clothing options to the girl who lived out of a backpack for the summer, and then went to live in Ireland with only that one backpack full of things. I know that there are still similarities between the two worlds but I can definitely say with confidence, I love the traveling me better than the old me. i hope to continue being this one no matter where life takes me!

  • Rachel Hooper

    Love this!!!

  • budgetjan

    I like my vacation self better than my other self, and I like the sound of your vacation self!

  • Love this! SO true…I am fully embracing the non made-up face and naturally dried hair look while travelling! I think the whole relaxation concept of a vacation definitely applies to also being able to take a vacation from all the upkeep and effort it is to be a woman.

    PS: love the dress!

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  • camorose

    So true! Now that I’ve come home with a nice tan, I’ve realized I can cut back on the makeup–why put on powder and then bronzer when I’m already naturally bronzed?!

  • camorose

    It’s so much easier once you realize that the new people you meet aren’t going to be comparing you to the girl you are at home! They only know you as this super laid-back girl ๐Ÿ™‚

  • camorose

    I did take the trip with Jan and A World of Sailing! It was absolutely awesome, will be writing more about it soon ๐Ÿ™‚

  • camorose

    Haha I don’t know if future-pregnant-vacation-self will be any different than the one at home–you’ll have to let me know how you go!

  • camorose

    It’s amazing how much we learn about ourselves when we travel ๐Ÿ™‚

  • “Travel” Me is definitely the best me, I’ve really been trying to incorporate into “back at home” Me. It’s easy to slip back into old habits but I’m commit to it.

  • camorose

    That’s such a perfect insight. Once we take away those expectations, we can finally relax and be who we WANT to be ๐Ÿ™‚

  • camorose

    Had the absolute best time with you Miss Jones–thanks for taking me out of my comfort zone and giving me the vacation of a lifetime! xxx

  • camorose


  • camorose

    I used to have more clothes than anyone else–and refuse to wear the same outfit twice! Now my friends are shocked when they see how few clothes I own! I don’t think that I’ve changed my style much, only forced myself to become more creative–certainly something that I’ve learned through travel ๐Ÿ™‚

  • camorose


  • camorose

    So do I! I already feel like I need a vacation ASAP!

  • camorose

    Such a good point–so nice to only put the same expectations on our appearance than men do! And thanks–found that for just $15 in Vietnam!

  • camorose

    Definitely know how you feel. Now that I’ve started working again, I’m trying really hard to keep a certain amount of “offline time” sacred when I’m at home or out with friends.

  • My vacation self is DEFINITELY my best self. Less worries, less baggage with me, more rest, more sun on my skin (usually)…

  • Kristine

    This is so true! I remember talking to someone in the travel industry who said he loved meeting travelers all the time because everyone’s at their best–friendly, open, outgoing.

    I’m usually pretty shy when I’m at home, but when I’m traveling (especially because I usually go alone) I make an effort to talk to people and get to know them. I also confide things to travel buddies that I may not tell people back home–I don’t know, when you’re with the same group of people for even just a couple of days you tend to get really close fast.

    My hair is also RIDICULOUS when I’m backpacking…

  • camorose

    I’m always happier when I have a bit of a sun tan ๐Ÿ™‚

  • camorose

    It’s so crazy how quickly travel friendships can form–it’s one of my favorite things about meeting people on the road! Such a different experience than meeting people at home, and going through all the proper steps of coffee dates and text messaging, etc, etc. You can just meet someone cool, click and immediately hang out!

  • Megan Stroup

    I’m a little behind on my Google Reader, but this is probably my favorite post of yours I’ve ever read. This is great! I actually don’t wear make-up in “real life,” but I usually do on vacation because I want to look good in the pictures haha. But I’m usually too lazy to do it on vacation, too. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • camorose

    Awww thanks! I definitely step my style game up on days when I’m going to be in a lot of photos–unless I’m on a boat! Then it’s just sunscreen and salt water hair ๐Ÿ™‚

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  • Absolutely! I’ve been a little worried that Medellin, Colombia would require fancier clothes and higher shoes than anything in my backpack, but I’ve quickly discovered that I really don’t care! Feels great to not worry about that stuff.

  • camorose

    Such a great feeling when you can just enjoy a place ๐Ÿ™‚

  • OCDemon

    The clean slate of brand new people whom you’ll never see you again is enough to bring out some honesty. And really, if someone backpacking through body-temperature heat and horrific humidity looked good all the time, THAT would be the weird person.