"Nobody wants to be 'that guy' that demands that everything be the same as they can expect back in their home town of Tennessee, but there’s also the flip side."
Are you a guilty traveler? Do you find yourself getting carried away with what you “should” be doing to the point you forget what you actually want to be doing? If you feel shame for doing the following things, it might be time to exorcise the guilt monster.
1) Choosing to spend your last day of a trip in a hotel room instead of ticking all of those “must see” places off your list.
If you don’t spend every single second of your holiday enjoying the local sites, are you even a real traveler? How can you call yourself an adventurer if all you want to do is lounge around in rented space and not speak to a living soul?
2) Getting annoyed at the local customs.
Does it mean that you aren’t up for the rigours of exploration if you start to feel claustrophobic from all of the people piling into a Japanese train? How about the super bluntness of certain Eastern Europeans who insist on commenting about how tall/short/skinny/fat you are? Can’t handle it? Are you even allowed to go?
3) Not having as much fun as everyone else seems to be having.
You pack your bags and head off on an overseas adventure only to find that you are struggling to have the amazingly fun, Facebook-worthy delight that everyone else before you seems to have experienced. Does it mean you have failed as a wanderluster? Are you a sad and hopeless trip-of-a-lifetime wannabe?
4) Silently judge other travelers for “not doing it right”.
Do you lambaste fellow travelers for opting for McDonald’s when they could be eating authentic Chinese food? How about those tour loving folks that balk at the thought of organising their own transport and accommodation? Do you find yourself silently judging and reminding yourself of what a great traveler you are? Could you be authentic if you just let other people live their life?
5) Get anxiety about sleeping in too late or not staying out late enough.
Do you even have the right to use #travelgram when you can’t even get your ass out of bed to go see some stuff? Isn’t ‘getting a good night sleep’ basically loser tourist talk, a foreign language to the true trailblazers of the world?
Before you go down the shame spiral for not being the perfect traveler, as depicted by self-righteous blogs and disapproving looks, just remember that there is no one right way to see the world. Of course travelling is supposed to help you experience different cultures, food and customs, but sometimes traveling is exhausting.
Nobody wants to be “that guy” that demands that everything be the same as they can expect back in their home town of Tennessee, but there’s also the flip side. Caring too much about “making it an authentic experience” kind of kills all of the authenticity anyway – and it’s also a real bummer.
Occasionally, everyone needs to take a break and eat crappy McDonald’s food and rent a hotel room to enjoy a hot bath and generally get away from crowds and sensory overload for the odd night in the midst of a busy trip.
Of course, if you’re not venturing outside of your comfort zone at all, you may not come home satisfied with your experience.
But it all comes down to your own personal situation and how much activity you can reasonably handle. There is no ‘one size fits all’ travel rule book and punishing yourself not only makes your time less enjoyable, it also makes you a lot harsher on other people.
To avoid the “should be” disease, take a step back and remind yourself to focus on the present moment and how you would truly like to experience it and let all the expectations you had fade from your mind.
If you have travelling buddies, make sure you set off with someone that likes to explore the same way you do… or at least can handle it if you decide to sleep in until noon while they prefer to be out by 8am, visiting all the local museums. And if you find out while traveling that you aren’t that compatible, adjust as best you can. Either communicate and bend more to make the experience even more of a learning experience or set off on your own and part ways amicably before it destroys your friendship long term.
Remember that this is YOUR TRIP and the travel gods will forgive you for doing what you need to do to get the most out of your experience.
Does this sound familiar to you? How did you cope with the "should-be" disease?
Meg is one of the co-creators of Travelher and lives and breathes travel. She currently works for an e-commerce travel company in New Zealand and often sells herself on cruises, motorhome trips and other exciting adventures. Meg misses her family back in Canada and wishes someone would invent the teleport already.