It’s Your Trip Not Anyone Else’s – Dealing With Travel Pressure

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.

We got a lot of travel pressure to bungy jump in New Zealand... but it was too expensive and we just weren't keen enough
We got a lot of travel pressure to bungy jump in New Zealand… but it was too expensive and we just weren’t keen enough

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?

We didn't go up the CN Tower, the most famous Toronto landmark
We didn’t go up the CN Tower, the most famous Toronto landmark

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.

Kelly Dunning

A Canadian freelance writer with a love of art, culture, literature and adventure, Kelly loves exploring foreign lands and expressing her experiences through the power of the written word.

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7 Comments

  1. I would love to climb the Eiffel Tower! It looks like so much fun. I would even want to eat at the restaurant too. Might as well do as much as I can since it could be once in a lifetime. But I do understand what you mean about travel pressure. People will tell you to do this and go there just because they experienced it themselves. Its as if they want to relive it through you. Its nice to listen to their experiences but I’ll do what I’m interested in, even if it means bungee jumping in New Zealand.

    Thanks for a great post. This was really interesting and it makes me want to visit many different places!

    Melanie

  2. This some really good advice. I used to overly plan my vacations and they weren’t that fun. Now I plan a couple of major things but then let the rest go to chance. This has brought me to many lesser populated beaches and some amazing mountain views. Letting the vacation show you where to go is actually pretty fun.

  3. People always narrate a big story and give their advice that how to travel or what the things should be remembered while going on the family holiday tour with loved ones. But it depends on you only that how you actually plan all the things and how you enjoy it. When you are on a family trip I suggest you to enjoy it as in your own way don’t think what the others say about you. Just live it and enjoy it in your own way, it will make your trip more livelier.

  4. That is the reason I avoid traveling in organized tours, they do not allow you to DRINK THE AIR of the places, they are always pressing to what is best in their books. When I went to DELHI, the guides were to keen to show the museums that only few noted the old forts and how majestic it looked even today. I prefer to travel alone and enjoy the life slowly to my heart.

  5. Thanks for a great article. Planning a trip can be a bit like having a baby – lots of well meaning advice, some good, some bad and at the end of the day you need to say thank you gracefully and then sort through and decide what could be worthwhile and what to discard.

    I also agree that another challenge is to avoid having a ‘Tick the Box’ tour, where you only see the major tourist traps. I particularly enjoy all of the in between bits, which is why I have never caught a ‘hop on hop off’ bus.

    I still remember the half day bus tour in Budapest that my temporary travelling colleague wanted to go on – I remember falling asleep in the bus because it was so warm and not really remembering much about the places we visited. On the flip side tours are not all bad, I still have fond memories of the ‘Sound of Music’ tour in Salzburg, but possibly more due to the group I was with and the fun we had rather than the tour itself.

  6. Absolutely. W didn’t go to any museums or plays in NYC or go up the Empire State, we didn’t spend long in the Louvre, we skipped Pisa and Pompeii … nothing is a must-do if it doesn’t line up with what you’re into.

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