As an avid traveler I have to say I fall prey to this notion just as much as the next person. I write this post not only for you as a reminder to slow down and breathe but to myself as well. In a society where it’s all about the “GRAM” we feel the need to go on vacation armed with a set goal and itinerary in hand. We know in advance all the Where’s , When’s, How’s. We land and like a sprinter in a marathon race we want to hit the ground running. In our mind we have a set amount of time and basket full of items we need to see or do with no margin for error or room for mistakes because that would lead to disappointment.
On my recent trip for the second time to Bali I was that girl. I had it all figured out so much and so I had spent numerous hours day in and day out prepping, planning, replanning, re-confirming to where I could tell you my itinerary like the back of my hand. This trip was going to be AH-MAZING.. and it was! HOWEVER there were hiccups, switches and omissions. Was I mad? ABSOLUTELY! The first mistake as my mind would have it was that I let the driver/guide talk me out of my plans. Yes, it was rude and wrong of him. In his mind he thought he was being helpful.. providing a service and insight since he was “local”. I on the hand meticulously picked each destination with passion and a purpose. There were things at each location I wanted to see or experience… rather it was a garden, waterfall, swing, birds nest etc.. I had a reason but in that moment I allowed this person to get me off my beaten path.
While yes, we had an amazing day of exploration I felt defeated and disappointed. I sulked and nursed my hurt feelings for a while but then it hit me.
- There’s always tomorrow or some day as the trip was a 9 day adventure. Maybe I could squeeze in some of the places I didn’t get to see later on.
- I don’t have to see everything in one trip. Bali is on lock down and I can surely book another trip and come back to see the things I left off. Surely you can’t see everything in one trip without exhausting yourself. I watched a lady who went to Bali after me on IG and she completely exhausted me just by looking at her pictures. The amount of places she went in one day trying to ensure you hit all the “Instagram” worthy places, the sheer amount of wardrobe changes each day gave me an epiphany. She even stated in one of her posts how exhausted she was with the amount of stuff she did in one day. My epiphany which inspired this post is that if you spend all your time running and exploring just to capture that perfect Social Media worthy photo are really enjoying your vacation? Are you relaxing or are you “working”. Isn’t the point of vacation to escape work?
After that mishap ( which is what it was in my mind). I started to relax. I became comfortable with the terms flexible and adaptable. Flexibility means “it ain’t gonna be perfect”. Adaptability is key ESPECIALLY when on group trips. Adaptable means going with the flow. Knowing this I tried to include a couple of “DO YOU” days in my itinerary while also offering up some suggested things that could be done in that day. Knowing that everyone doesn’t like the same stuff and some just wanna relax and do nothing all of which is okay and as the host you shouldn’t be offended. For some it is necessary to just wind down, sip some wine by the pool or get an in house massage. You might have planned dinner at XYZ restaurant but the masses prefers ABC restaurant.. go with the flow. You’ll be glad you did and the group will be happy as well. My advise is the same as a solo traveler. So what if you had plans for some fancy swanky restaurant and at the last minute decided you were tired and just wanted to order wings in your room. IT’s OKAY!! You’re on vacation enjoy it.
Thinking back to my trip in Tanzania where the road completely washed out from the rain is a reminder of how even what seemed like a disaster in the making turned out to be one of the BEST times of my life. I couldn’t control the situation but also didn’t allow the situation to consume me, sadden me nor cause me to freak out because we were now hours off schedule. I’m actually surprised I didn’t freak out. I was in good hands and in that moment realized there was someone somewhere in worse shape than me… like the people on the opposite side of the washed out dirt road who would’ve much rather been on my side of the road ( because we could turn around and hit the city) than their side ( nothing but the wild and bush on their side). So you see it’s about making the most of the situation EVEN when things seem dismal and off plan.
I am now re-assessing how I vacay. What vacation should mean and striking balance between just BEING in the moment and checking off must see things to do. As I plan my next BIG solo vacation I’m taking these new found nuggets and hope to apply them. There’s a whole world out there and lots to see. Recognize you can’t pack 10 days worth of exploration into a 3 day window. If you don’t get to fulfill all of the things on your list.. the good news is you can always come back. I used to say I wouldn’t double back to a place because there are so many more places to see but even that notion has changed. I’ve circled back to a number of locations for various reasons and surprisingly it just keeps getting better. Bali for example wasn’t the Birds Nest, Swing having Waterfall place 2 short years ago as it is today. Everyone thinks of flower baths and swings when you say Bali. Amazing what a difference two years has made. Other places I’ve circled back to were Dubai, China, Thailand and South Africa. I went initially to each of these places SOLO but decided to take my children the next time hence I circled back.
Have you circled back? Where have you gone back to and why? Share your story in the comments.