Whether it’s an open-ended backpacking trip or a standard two-weeker away from 3-piece suits and office small-talk, the law remains: Places are like people. You can love, like, hate, be infatuated with, play, be played by, run from, and long for places…just like humans. The possibilities are limitless. Accepting this fact before you hit the road can save you from spiraling into a deep depression that the travel dream you’ve always longed for has failed you – and keep you more interested along the way!
Let’s cut to the chase. Sometimes it will be fantastic. But it isn’t always going to work out. Expectations are the enemy. Walking down the street in a big city – do you expect it to work out with every person you see? No. Hell, you don’t even want it to work out with most of them! So why should places be any different? What about that beautiful guy you always had a crush on until he opened his mouth? Yup – that’s that postcard on your fridge of a white sand beach…until you tasted the horrible food and spoke with rude local people. Extending this human understanding to the world of travel is sure to benefit us.
Let’s take a look at how places are like living, breathing homo sapiens…
Sometimes you’ll be in love.
You’ll fall. Head over heels. And you’ll love it. You’ll love everything about it – even the imperfections. And you’ll want to change your plans and ditch your friends and turn your whole schedule inside out for this one gem. You’ll want to spend more time here. And you should. Otherwise you’ll always wonder what it would have been like.
But sometimes you’ll jump through all these hoops in the name of love just to find out that…
It’s just infatuation.
So you extended your stay and ditched your friends, but now it’s fizzled out. The initial shock of beauty has somehow faded, the mind-expanding sensation you got in the first few weeks has wilted down to monotony, and the ‘anywhere but here’ mentality starts to resurface. This is okay, too. Accept the whirlwind of a good time that it’s been and move along. Don’t try to turn it into something it’s not.
Sometimes you’ll only like one thing.
Maybe it’s the beaches. Maybe it’s the museums. And maybe that’s it. Maybe you’ve explored up and down, high and low, and nothing else appeals to you. Maybe the art scene is brilliant, but the people, the food, and the landscapes all suck. Accept that. Someone else will come along and think the art scene is atrocious and everything else is rainbows. Yes, your pocket might have suffered thus far in anticipation of finding the whole package, but don’t force it.
Take a risk and you just might find a keeper.
Yes, the plain vanilla all-inclusives will arguably never let you down – you know what you’ve signed up for and it’s good. But that’s all it is. It’s just good. Not great, not incredible, not awe-inspiring. If you so dare to stray from said vanilla comfort – to something that pushes your dusty buttons, forces you out of all your high maintenance bullshit, and pisses you off in all the right ways – you’re sure to find something a bit more intriguing.
You won’t always be in love.
Don’t expect to have a love affair with every city, town, and village you step foot in. There will be times you want to leave, but you don’t want to want to leave. You’ll tell yourself you haven’t seen enough, maybe there’s more…maybe I’ll stay a few days longer. But don’t be the hopeless romantic. Just surrender. Sticking around to fall in love with a place is like spending too much time on shitty date. NEXT! Can’t fight the vibe. If you’re feeling an itch to go, whip out that train time table and keep the ball rolling.
But also…like people, give the place a chance…
Some places need time to reveal themselves to you.
People can be shy. And so can places. You might have to be a little more curious for some. Peel back the layers to get to the good stuff. Maybe this one doesn’t lay out the entire story in the first 3 hours. There are some parts you must earn. Have patience. Seek and prod a bit to uncover the personality.
Even if you are in love – the spark isn’t there all day, every day.
Somewhere along the way postcards, Instagram, & Condé Nast led us to believe that every single day of traveling must be over-the-moon amazing and life altering. If that’s what you’ve got in mind – stay home. The fantasy will be much more satisfying, I assure you. You can love a place and have a really shit day, or week. Do you leave your partner after one crappy day together? No.
But you should accept the fact that…
Some places will break your heart.
Maybe you built him up to be something he never was from the start. Maybe your expectations worked against you. Maybe that postcard-perfect image screwed you in the end.
Or maybe it really is everything you want but you can’t find the time to stay, the job to move there, or your body is just rebelling in all ways biological. Maybe persevere…but maybe move on. Life might just have greater plans for you…
Do you just keel over and crumble after a fall out? Well, some do. But Mr./Mrs. Right won’t just appear if you don’t get out there and try again. You might have a streak where nothing appeals to you at all, for weeks, months, who knows, years. You might be repulsed by an entire continent! But keep going. Pick that next country to have a date with – the spark awaits you.
We tend to think that anywhere far away from our home-routine must be mind-blowingly amazing. But as soon as we can accept the fact that instead of being a guarantee, our satisfaction with travel is as much a crapshoot as it is with people, our globetrotting will prove much more rewarding.