Travel Guilt – It’s a Thing
November 12, 2013
I know this will sound silly to some people but I’ve recently experienced travel guilt. Not guilt about leaving home to travel. No, there’s never that. I get giddy packing my suitcase and dreaming of the next adventure. My guilt comes from needing rest. I’d spent a day in Calgary and all I did was go to IKEA, check out a play and take a dip in the hotel pool. That would normally sound like a good day, right? So why the guilt? Part of my brain tells me that I should be go, go, go, always checking out some new sight or seeking out unique experiences. That just relaxing in your awesome hotel room is time wasted.
This is why I return from most trips in serious need of downtime. I pack my trips so full of activities that I’m left worn out. I often get sick upon my arrival home. I blame it on recycled airplane air but it’s more than likely my own neglect of sleep and rest. I try to wring experience from every moment. I’m the kind of masochist who sets an alarm clock on vacation so that I don’t sleep in and miss a morning. So when sometimes I just want to do nothing except read a book or watch the Food Network from the comfy hotel bed I feel guilty. That annoying voice says “You could be doing this at home. Go do something unique and local.” Isn’t vacation supposed to be about doing what makes me happy?
I struggled with this on my first solo international trip to Costa Rica as well. I had three days booked in Tamarindo to just relax and be a beach bum. After two hours in town I texted a friend. “I’ve already walked the length of town, had lunch, checked out the beach, and unpacked. Now what do I do?” She replied with “Relax”. “But what do I do?” I whined. I actually felt a little anxiety when I sat down by the pool with a book. Surely this was wasting time. Shouldn’t I be out trying to make a lifelong friendship with a sloth or something?
I know that I’m fortunate to be able to travel to the places that I have. I know my time in them is limited and who knows if or when I’ll be back. Not everyone gets to do this so I should really be making the most of every minute. Living it up for those who can’t, etc. But man, that’s exhausting.
I keep telling myself that next time I’ll make sure to have some free time to do nothing. I need to learn to tell those voices to shag off, this is my trip and I’ll do what I want. If I don’t see all the sights or do all the activities or eat all the food it was still a good trip as long as I enjoyed myself. Right?