Here in the US, you’d be lucky to get 2 weeks off, and that’s if you even volunteer to take it. We’re almost working ourselves to death by burnout. But what gets me is that when people do decide to ‘vacation’ it becomes a stress-induced nightmare, full of expectations and idealism, and when things don’t go as expected the trip is ‘ruined.’ They can’t get their mind and focus off of how great it is to not be at work, how much they need this ‘vacation,’ and how perfect it needs to be because it may be the only vacation they’ll have this year.

Just stop, and pause for a second.

Traveling is about you. It has nothing to do with your job, so stop thinking about your job and stop building these expectations of how amazing it needs to be or else you’ve failed and wasted your vacation. Please learn to go somewhere, anywhere, with absolutely no expectations. Sure, make some plans, book some shows, but hell if you miss it, f*ck it. Don’t forget what traveling should really be about, exploring and discovering foreign lands and, more importantly, yourself.

On our recent trip to Europe, my girlfriend and I decided to drop our expectations and just relax in the company of one another. We went to London, booked a play and just winged the rest. We went to Paris and lived right next to the Louvre, but chose to sleep in some days and never bothered going inside because we woke up too late and the lines were too long, same with the Eiffel Tower. We chose to live in the moment and we just walked around the city and saw other things normal tourists would’ve never seen. We made new friends and stayed out late well knowing that if we woke up early enough the next day we could visit the Louvre. But again, we decided to embrace the magic of traveling… it’s called ‘shit happens’ and we decided to not think like most people that we only have this ONE chance to come here.

I think that’s the root of the problem… Why do people set unrealistic limitations for themselves? Sure your finances may be shit now, and for the near foreseeable future you can’t imagine finding time to go again or you’d like to go somewhere else next time, but life is long buddy. If you set a life of limitations, you will live a life of limitations. As they say…

“Be careful what you wish for.”

What I’m advocating for is what I advocate for life, make sure you create the right mindset. Learn to be flexible, and be open to unforeseen opportunities. Take it easy on yourself. Screw your Instagram/Facebook moments at some tourist trap. Traveling is not an exercise in narcissism. Meet new people, learn about their cultures, eat some weird shit, take a wrong turn, and laugh about being utterly lost. Don’t ruin your chance to live in the moment with Lonely Planet Must-Sees. Drop the expectations, do what you want, and embrace the wonders of the road less traveled.

Photo Credits: Rafael Leao