A friend of mine once told me that Success equals Expectations minus Achievement.
If you like math, this equation would look something like this:
Success = Expectations-Achievement
I firmly believed this to be true. Expectations can affect how we perceive the world, what we think of ourselves. Expectations can drive behavior and action.
Yet, the power of expectations is not limited to one’s personal or professional like.
Expectations can affect your leisure and travel time as well.
They can affect how you travel, where you travel to and more importantly, how satisfied you are with your trip.
I never thought that my fiend’s advice on expectations would apply to traveling.
I just never made the link in my head.
I only realized the power of expectations in travel when I visited Australia.
I was very excited about my trip there, planning to spend 2 weeks in Australia’s East Coast. When I moved to Singapore from London, I was exposed to a new culture, to a different way of thinking and living.
Cultural Shock hit me hard.
And I loved it.
So when I booked my flights to Australia, I expected to find yet another new culture, a new lifestyle and new ways of thinking. Instead, all I could think of whilst in Australia was that I travelled back to the UK! I only spent two weeks in Australia and I’m by no means an expert in the Australian culture. However, as someone who has lived in London for 4 years, Australia seemed awfully familiar to me.
And I was disappointed.
So very, very disappointed.
Looking back at it now, I realize that I traveled to Australia having unrealistic exceptions.
I expected it to be like nothing I had even seen before, a country where everything would be new and exciting. Although Australia is a wonderful place to travel to and I would love to go back sometime, my trip to Australia was -for lack of a better word- ruined by my unrealistic expectations.
It is important to travel with an open mind. If you have only a limited time to travel, then you really can’t afford to waste time feeling disappointed.
Would you rather spend your time complaining because your destination is not what you expected or spend it exploring a new place?
So how do you manage your expectations when traveling?
Here are 2 things I found to be useful:
1. Step away from the Guide Book
I find that spending an awful lot of time reading through guide books and travel sites and looking at pictures can build up expectations to disproportionate levels.
Do your research, plan ahead, but don’t overdo it. Paris will never be what you imagine it to be if you spend days on end fantasizing about it.
2. Know thyself
It is important to have some level of self-awareness. If you know what sort of person you are, then it is easier to choose a destination that will cater to your interests. You are thus more likely to pick a destination that you will like and enjoy your trip.
Ultimately, it’s important to remember that traveling is meant to be a way to push yourself out of your comfort zone. Cultural shocks, disappointments and frustration are all part of traveling. Take it all in and try to make the most of your time abroad. No 2 countries are the same and no 2 trips will be the same. Try to be aware of what your expectations are and travel with an open mind.
Have you ever visited a place only to find that it didn’t match your expectations?
Do let me know in the comments below or at wanderingislander.com.