Travel is usually seen as something joyful and happy… And it is… I personally love it. And I love meeting new people, visiting and discovering new places. I am so thankful to have been able to travel as much as I have.
But I’ve got something to confess… I am also an introverted person. I feel exhausted if I talk with people for too long and if don’t have time for myself, I will become really serious and not fun to be around.
When travelling, I often feel the pressure of going out and visiting all there is to visit in a place. It feels like if you’re not doing something, you’re wasting your time. I think that growing up in a society with the mentality “if you’re not being productive, you don’t have value/add value to the world”… takes a toll.
For me, this means that sometimes, I just don’t feel like going out of my hotel room. Sometimes I just want to be in my own little bubble away from the rest of the world; I just want to be back home, with a glass of wine and my favourite film. If I’m feeling a bit extra that day, maybe some popcorn and a nice comfy blanket. Sometimes I just want to speak my language and not make an effort at all to remember how to say certain things.
But you’re travelling, and you’re seeing all these new things, meeting all these new interesting people, experiencing new cuisines… How ungrateful of you to just stay at the hostel and watch a movie. Such a waste…
I has these thoughts as well… Until I planned my own trip around Taiwan. I did my lists and my planning to visit as much as I could, but by the second week ended up exhausted. Tired from talking to people all day, from taking pictures of things that honestly, didn’t seem that special because I didn’t have time to read the description. From looking for the food that was popular at that place, even if I felt like eating something else… Until I arrived to a particularly good hostel where by chance, I had the room to myself for a few hours. I put on a face mask, did my nails, had a nap, watched a film and felt 100% better with myself.
Then I realised…
You don’t have to visit every single tourist attraction to have a good time.
If you enjoyed that cup of coffee while people watching, you did not waste your time.
You are allowed to enjoy and relax during your travels in any way you want.
I had the chance to meet Kasia & Victor, a lovely Spanish-Polish couple who have been travelling for a while now. They made me realise that I wasn’t alone in this idea. They have a very interesting blog post about “slow travel” (in Spanish). The concept is about enjoying every step of the way. Not focusing on the “touristy” stuff and just observing life in the place you’re staying. It’s about getting to know the culture and people. About being a “traveller” rather than a “tourist”.
I am well aware that not everyone has that much time off work to do this, but even if you have a week… Rather than planning a “gymkhana week” where you’re going from touristic attraction to the next touristic attraction, maybe try to slow down. Take the pressure off yourself. Let your self relax and breath and enjoy.
Instead of getting that perfect shot for your IG and ignoring the child that has stopped playing with a ball to help an old man, you could be present in where you are and watch life happening around you.