Traveling with a spirit of curiosity and interest in the people and places visited has always seemed to me to be the point. We haven't traveled to all of the places that we've been to for "vacation," although even the harder traveling destinations have been enjoyable, as well as illuminating, and the "hard" parts fade as the trip memories crystallize.
Traveling as pilgrimage is another way I approach different destinations, whether there's a personal connection or not.
But always I return with an invigorated sense of my place and purpose in the world. In Cuba, we'll be visiting natural area, gardens, organic farms, and centuries-old cities on this trip, as well as staying with people in their homes in most cases (in casa particulares.) No hotels on this trip. Probably most photos will wait as internet access is quite limited.
We've visited other communist countries before (Laos and Vietnam) in transitional times, and will be mindful of the impact that we, as travelers, have, especially in economic conditions where disparity of income is so high.
I'm interested, when traveling, in what families are growing for themselves, the kinds of fresh foods that are available, the ecological conditions in the biological reserves and parks, abundance (or not) of recessed foods, and simply food security, too.
So travel is not a vacation for me, but more is a way to learn more and appreciate the diverse ways people live on our planet. I always return changed, I hope, for the better, with a renewed sense of purpose, wherever that takes me.