The Difference Between VACATION and HOLIDAY

vacation vs holiday

Going on vacation or holiday is something many of us look forward to all year long. But what exactly is the difference between these two words? In this post, we’ll explore the nuances between “vacation” and “holiday” and when to use each.


A vacation is a period of time when you take off from work or your normal routine and activities. The point of a vacation is usually to relax, travel, or enjoy leisure activities.

Key things to know about “vacation”:

  • We often say “take a vacation” to emphasize time off work.
  • We also say “go on vacation” to highlight the travel aspect.
  • “A vacation” implies you have specific plans to do something for your time off.


I’m taking a vacation next week to go to the beach.
She’s going on vacation to Europe this summer.


“Holiday” means the same thing as “vacation” – a period of leisure time away from work. However, “holiday” is more common in British English, while “vacation” is more American.

British English: He went on a holiday to Spain.
American English: She took a vacation to Mexico.

“Holiday” has a few additional meanings:

  • A day celebrating something in your culture, like Christmas or Mother’s Day.
  • Public or national holidays when most people don’t have to work. They are also called bank holidays or federal holidays.

So in summary:

  • “Holiday” and “vacation” mean basically the same thing and we often use them interchangeably both in the U.S. and U.K. 
  • But “holiday” also refers to special days of observance and cultural/religious celebrations.

The next time you’re planning time away, consider whether “vacation” or “holiday” fits best!

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