Before my trip to France in 2015, I stopped by my bank to order some euros. While informing the teller of how much I would need, he asked where I was going.
“Paris,” I told him.
“Oh!” gasped the woman at the teller to my left. “If you’re going to Paris, you HAVE to go to Barcelona too! It’s absolutely beautiful!”
Now, this woman did not know me. The only obvious thing we had in common was that we used the same bank. How on earth could she know what I like?
Granted, I’m sure Barcelona is beautiful (I still haven’t been, sorry!). But what this story highlights is people’s annoying habit of sticking their nose into your itinerary when they hear about your travel plans. They tell you about all the things you HAVE to do because THEY loved doing it so you will too!
Puh-lease. Do you realize how much value unsolicited travel advice, especially from strangers, has? Almost none.
They don’t know what you like or what you’re looking for. If you let people dictate your travels based on what THEY liked, soon enough your dream trip will turn into a frantic mess of destinations because of FOMO (Fear of Missing Out). That’s a surefire way to ruin any trip.
My guess is you clicked on this blog post when you saw my click bait-y, satirical headline. If so, that just goes to show that we are so afraid we’ll miss out on something we lose out on just enjoying the moment. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been in such a rush to see EVERYTHING on a trip that I ended up being miserable. If you don’t get to add yet another attraction to your itinerary—relax! You will still live a fulfilling and happy life. You don’t HAVE to do ALL THE THINGS.
When I went to South America in 2014, I had my heart set on Cusco, Peru. Something about it was calling to me. After all the research I’d done, I was confident I’d love the place and it would be a great city in which to study Spanish.
But then people came barging in with their darn opinions. They told me I HAD to go to Buenos Aires. It was amazing! It was THEIR favorite city in South America!
So…I added an extra leg to my flight ticket, paid the $160 reciprocity fee required of U.S. citizens at the time (that fee has since been revoked), and landed in Buenos Aires in May 2014.
And I didn’t like it. Okay, that’s an exaggeration, but it wasn’t at all what I was looking for. It was a beautiful and very modern city, while I was looking for something more quaint and unlike any place I’d been before. I missed Cusco.
So I changed my flight and returned to Cusco to study Spanish, like I’d originally planned.
Often when we ask people what we should do on our upcoming trip, we’re really fueled by a nagging fear of missing out. And when people spew unsolicited travel advice, they’re often fueled by a selfish desire to regale us with tales of their own adventures.
Now whenever people come to me without any background information and say, “Amy, I’m going to Cusco, what should I do while I’m there?” or “Amy, I’ve always wanted to go to Prague but everyone keeps telling me to go to Vienna instead! What should I do?”
I always tell them the same thing: Do whatever you want to do, and don’t listen to unsolicited travel advice, especially from someone who 1) doesn’t know you or 2) knows nothing about your intended travel destination. Or, at least give me more specific information about what you’re looking for. If you hate camping, I’m not going to tell you to hike the Inca Trail in Peru. If you want to learn French, I’m not going to tell you to visit Budapest (even if I loved it).
Follow my number one travel tip, and I’m confident you’ll have a great trip. But don’t take my word for it. ;)