Popular travel spots gain popularity for a reason—there are lots of different things to do and see. Naturally, you want to partake, or what is the point of visiting? But with that being said, it is easy to put way too much pressure on ourselves when we take vacations, and the experience can leave us feeling as rushed and harried as we do in our every day routine that we were desperately wanting to escape from. As a seasoned traveler who has suffered many bouts of “checklist mentality” and self-imposed pressure to be a super-tourist, I would like to share some things I’ve learned that made for much more enjoyable trips.
Focus on the “Wants” and not the “Shoulds”
No matter where you go, there will no shortage of ways to spend your time. Certain spots are well-known for specific sites or activities, but this does not mean you have to see every sight and do every activity. It is easy to feel almost obligated to cover everything listed in the guidebook or risk missing out on all your destination has to offer. But unless you really feel drawn to something in particular, do not force yourself to do it just to say you did. If you really don’t give a hoot about the beautiful view from a well-known mountain, do not subject yourself to hours of travel just to see it; if you feel you could get heatstroke just thinking about hiking a volcano in 100-degree heat, skip it. While you don’t want to spend your whole time away holed up in the room, just do the things you truly want to do.
Allow Yourself to Just Soak It In
This second suggestion is somewhat related to the first; avoid the urge to create a jam-packed schedule where you are rushing from sight to sight, hoping to fill that next Facebook album with photos. Some of the best times I have had traveling were when I was just soaking things in—just walking around a new place, seeing what everyday life is like, talking to some locals, having a nice cool drink on a side walk cafe as I watched life pass me by. We often feel like if we are not doing something every second, we are wasting our time or not making the most of the trip, and nothing could be further from the truth.
Trim the Itinerary
When I talk to certain people about their travel plans, their itineraries sometimes amaze me. The amount of time spent in planes, trains or buses, simply to cram in as much as possible in a relatively short time frame, does not sound like my idea of fun. I know that people have limited vacation time and it is understandable to want to make the most of it; but in the quest to cover as much ground as possible, you can put a serious damper on the enjoyment factor—and isn’t having a good time the whole point of taking a vacation? While it is true that this desire stems from a genuine interest in seeing more of the world, we also have to admit that a bit of it has to do with ego and wanting to impress others with how many notches we have put in our travel belt. So, when planning a vacation with multiple destinations, put the ego aside and plan an itinerary that will actually allow you to enjoy your destinations.