When you tell people you’re going on a trip, you’ll get a lot of excited congratulations.
You’ll also get a lot of opinions. Everyone will be giving you their advice on what to see and do in your destination. Some of this is great – recommendations can be helpful when planning your trip. However, some of their tips can turn into an uncomfortable type of travel pressure.
How Advice Turns Into Travel Pressure
Some of this information will be practical and valuable. A lot of it will be other people passing on their nostalgia for the amazing time that they themselves had in that destination.
While some people will offer helpful suggestions, others might make you feel that if you don’t take a double-decker bus tour in London, climb the Eiffel Tower in Paris, or visit the Sistine Chapel in Rome you will be completely missing out on the experience of your destination. This can leave some first time travellers feeling a lot of travel pressure. You’ll feel like you NEED to check off a list of attractions. If you don’t make it through them all then you have failed to truly experience your destination.
This of course, is completely false. Each destination has its most popular attractions, of course. But they are only worth visiting if you are interested in them! If you are afraid of heights or have a bad knee, climbing the steps to the Eiffel Tower will be a terrible ordeal. If you are not interested in art or museums at all, the Louvre will be a massive waste of time and money.
Do Your Own Thing
When you travel, see what you want to see and do what you want to do.
When people and guide books offer you advice, take what you find practical and throw the rest out of the window. Don’t cave to travel pressure and prioritize things that people say you should do over things that you actually want to do.
New York has the Guggenheim, the Metropolitan, and the MOMA – three of the most famous art museums in America. There is a lot of travel pressure to visit them, but don’t bother if the thought of looking at paintings and sculptures all day makes you break out in uncontrollable yawns. Perhaps you are more interested in NYC’s underground music scene instead, or strolling through Central Park or trying to eat as many street hot dogs as you can in one day. Everyone tells you that you haven’t experience England until you have had a fancy and overpriced “afternoon tea”, but perhaps you feel a lot more comfortable and have a lot more fun drinking pints with the local football fans at a pub.
When we were in the USA we had a free week and we asked others for recommendations of where to go. Everyone suggested that we head to Miami or Virginia Beach. Despite the overwhelming consensus that we should go to the beaches, we realised that was not what we wanted. Instead, we wanted to make the most of our time in the USA and visit somewhere with it’s own unique character, so we chose New Orleans. If we had followed their advice, we would have missed out on discovering one of our favourite cities in the world.
There Are No “Rules”
There are no rules for what you “should see” when you visit a location. A checklist will make your journey feel more like a school field trip than a travel experience. It’s no fun to plan your travels according to outside travel pressure and what everyone else thinks you should do.. Why visit something out of a sense of travel pressure or obligation, if you really don’t enjoy it?
Take your trip into your own hands and create the exact experience that you want. If you are fascinated by puppets, the highlight of your trip might be the Marionette Museum in Prague. Don’t worry that your friends think you are a geek. If you’ve always wanted to see the cheesy sculptures and massive fake pirate ships in Skopje, Macedonia, go for it!
It’s your trip, not theirs. Follow your passion and do things that make you happy.