When you tell your friends, family and co-workers that you are going on a trip, many of them will be filled with advice, suggestions and information of what you should do while you are there. If you mention that you are going to Paris, Rome, London, or any other travel destination you will be bombarded with suggestions of restaurants you should visit, tours you should go on and other travel pressure.
While 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, like they need to check off a list of attractions and if they don’t make it through them all on their trip then they have failed to truly appreciate the wonders of their destination.
This of course, is completely false. Each destination has its most popular attractions, but they are worth visiting but only 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 snore-fest.
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 of it 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.
Although New York has the Guggenheim, the Metropolitan, and the MOMA which are three of the most famous art museums in America and there is a lot of travel pressure to visit them, 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 for what you “should see” when you visit a location, and sticking to a guide book checklist will make your journey feel more like a school field trip than a travel experience. If you plan your travels according to outside travel pressure and what everyone else thinks you should do, you will not have as much fun. 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 and the highlight of your trip to Europe is visiting the Marionette Museum in Prague, don’t worry that your friends think you are a geek. It’s your trip, not theirs. Follow your passion and do things that make you happy.