Part 2: Don’t Over Schedule Yourself
In Part 1: Make the Most of your Time Abroad, we went over the reasons why you should try to maximize your time abroad as much as possible. But there’s also a strong case to be made for why you shouldn’t do this. Trying to make your time abroad more efficient, scheduled, planned out and filled with activities can be stressful, chaotic, and more frustrating then being back home at work, which defeats the whole point of a vacation.
So in this section let’s touch upon the reasons why you should make your vacation a relaxing, leisurely experience.
It’s Impossible To Do Everything
To give you an example the Louvre in Paris, France has about 38,000 items on display. If you were to spend say thirty seconds examining each item it would take you a little over thirteen days to see everything (assuming you never took any kind of a break and the museum security didn’t escort you from the building when you failed to vacate at closing time). If you have a six day trip planned and you have one day allocated to the Louvre you’re either going to miss a good chunk of the museum or blow through it so fast you won’t have enjoyed any of it even though you saw everything.
The world is a massive place and there’s no way to see all of it. Each country, each city can have a wealth of experiences and special moments you can spend a lifetime discovering and enjoying, and that’s assuming nothing will ever change in those areas.
You’re not going to see and do everything, so don’t try to.
Don’t Get Looped Into A New Rat Race
The entire reason you’re on vacation is to escape the tension of deadlines, challenges, and frustrations of your day-to-day life. So why on earth would you make your vacation another source of deadlines, challenges and frustrations?
A vacation is meant to relax you and take your mind off the day-to-day grind. It allows you to expand your horizons, open yourself up to new experiences, and live your life differently for a few days. A vacation with itineraries defining what time you have to be where and how long you’re permitted to be there can become as fast-paced and annoying as a day job.
The Best Moments Are Unplanned
It took my wife and I a while to recognize this when we traveled. In Hawaii for instance we were looking forward to visiting this large shopping market that had items handcrafted by local artisans, it’s well renowned and many people come to experience it. Yet our fondest memory from that day isn’t the activity we had planned or the souvenirs we had a budget for, it was the little café tucked back in a residential area a few blocks away that we stumbled upon when deciding to go for a walk.
While the tourist traps with their scheduled visitation hours and designated routes can be a lot of fun, many of our best memories are when we took some time to wander off the beaten path and explore. But that’s only possible if you have the free time to wander. Ensuring your vacation is open enough to permit genuine unscheduled experiences can provide the most fulfilling trips you’ve ever had.
Incentivize Coming Back
This is probably the biggest argument in my mind for having a leisurely vacation and is often the most controversial with those that my wife and I have shared our philosophy with. If you have a genuine passion for travel or have fallen in love with a particular area, give yourself a reason to go back by not experiencing everything possible, leave somethings undone.
My wife and I spent a few days in Austria and I absolutely loved it. The wonderful food, the charismatic Christmas markets, the magnificent palaces, the food, the rich culture, the friendly people and the food. (Did I mention the food?) I wanted to see everything and do everything in this wonderful country, but I only had a few days. Instead of trying to cram in as much as possible, we intentionally made a mental note to ourselves to make a trip and come back one day, to give ourselves the opportunity to experience it again with more time.
Many people reading this section, especially those that resonated with the arguments made in the first, will be absolutely bewildered at this decision. They may claim we might have missed something unique to that time we were there, or that tomorrow we could get hit by a bus and never go back or some other reason to prevent us from going back.
To these people I say they absolutely have a point, but now I have a burning desire to go back. Instead of burning out on the three days we were there and having memories of exhaustion, chaos, and busyness, we had a wonderful sample of a country we’d like to go back and dig in when we have more time and energy.
By treating each country in this manner we’ve built ourselves a solid list of places we’d be passionate to return to and have new experiences. As a result, it’s made us more motivated to travel and live our lives in a way to facilitate future travel.
In the end it’s up to the personality of the traveler which method they’ll choose and honestly some trips are simply better when crammed with activities and others you’ll have a more enjoyable vacation taking a nap in a hammock. Our hope is that you’ll take away some solid tips to get the most out of your travels whether it’s filling the time with enjoyment or giving yourself time to enjoy.
Just remember that as long as you have a wonderful experience that motivates you to continue traveling there’s no right or wrong answer.
Author: Benjamin Baker
After serving abroad in a religious capacity for two years Ben has felt the pull to travel and explore ever since. This desire was further fueled by his wife Maddie and the two have traveled to many places over the last few years. Ben’s hope is that by sharing his knowledge and experiences obtained while traveling that others can improve their lives and the lives of others through travel. Check out additional articles written by Benjamin.