It has been a long time since I have done this much traveling, especially international travel. As I go through this process, I am learning a lot about myself. One common theme which keeps arising while visiting these new places is the Fear Of Missing Out (or FOMO). As I said, I have not traveled much recently. In the past few years, I have weathered a poor job experience, a divorce, fixing up an old house to sell and working through the resulting intense emotions from these experiences. So now that I am able to travel and experience new places, places which I may not get back too for a long time, I feel like I need to see everything. If I don't see everything there is to see in a particular area, I feel that I will miss out on a fantastic experience or opportunity.
It is just not possible to travel to a new place and see EVERYTHING. Logically I know this of course. However, emotions do not always follow a logical pattern. If I allow this issue of FOMO to take over, I begin to rush around frantically. I spend so much time planning and moving from place to place, I am no longer present. I am usually anxious during this process. When this happens, I simply cannot just enjoy where I am. At the end of the day, I begin to feel depressed and burned out by all the racing around I am doing.
Instead of continuing along this trajectory, I decided to change my behavioral pattern and confront this issue. How did I do this? It sounds rather simple but when I fully embraced it, it was highly effective. I gave myself permission to stop being the rushed itinerant tourist. Every day, I checked in with myself, wherever I am located, I would ask myself a few key questions: What is the one thing I really want to see/do today? How might this improve my life? And finally, how can I make sure I stay focused and present while involved in this particular activity? Sometimes, I decide to see a museum or monument, other times, I find a park or cafe and spend the day reading or writing. Reading a book under a tree, or by the water is just as valid and beneficial activity as touring a museum, in my mind.
Does one HAVE to constantly be on the go? I am determined to be more mindful while traveling from now on. I truly want to savor the moment. I'll leave the rushing around to the tourist families.