Lessons From Vacationing

Sunday, April 22, 2018
Vacations are typically supposed to be about relaxing, exploring, eating basically everything in sight and definitely less about life lessons, but sometimes you can't help what you get.

When we were prepping for this vacation, I spent a lot of time gathering ideas. Finding cultural things to do and see like museums and historical sights comes really naturally for me (thanks history minor), but I struggle to know what's good to eat and where or what the cool neighborhoods and shops are. Thankfully we've got social media for that these days, and so I went all in. I spent a lot of time saving Instagram inspo for places to visit and things to eat, reading city guides on all kinds of people's blogs and creating big lists of things to do, all nicely grouped together by location. You can even take a look at all my plans and ideas here! By the time we took off, I felt more prepared for a vacation than I ever have before.

But like anything in life, you can plan as much as you want but you will always run into differences between your expectations and your reality. Don't get me wrong. Everything on this vacation went according to plan, we had no major issues with and enjoyed every single place we saw, stayed and ate. There was absolutely nothing at all to complain about and we truly enjoyed our trip.

Instead there was just the matter of reconciling what I thought I'd want to do with with what I actually enjoyed doing.

I think I let the shiny, alluring perfection of social media coerce me and I lost sight of what I know has always enamored me with traveling. I wanted to live a slice of that "it girl" life that I'm so used to seeing online. So much of social media is about appearances -- the coolest cafe, the prettiest food and the trendiest shops. Truthfully, a lot of the times social media can be spot on! We went to a very Instagram-famous eclair place in Paris where the treats were delicious and oh-so beautiful and it was completely worth the trip. Several meals in Brighton were also social media recommendations that entirely lived up to their hype. But there were also several things on my list that at the end of the day, just weren't for me.

Being a cool kid can be exhausting. Couple that with traveling, which can also leave you feeling a little like a stranger without a real home (even when you're having a great time!), and cities with millions of people everywhere and it quickly all be a little too much for little old introverted me. I did enjoy what places I ventured to when I was feeling brave enough to wade through crowds or worry about my appearance but my desire to visit those places also tapered off quite quickly. And you know what? That's completely okay.

As the trip went on I found myself caring less and less about where we ate, just oping for sometime unknown, unpretentious and quite frankly easy. I traded shops for more museums and beautiful churches. I wore practically the same comfortable, warm and probably less stylish outfit almost every day we were there. We weren't afraid to spend the nights cuddled up in our Airbnb, eating a carb-heavy "dinner" in instead of out and about at the coolest restaurant. And it all just felt right.

I guess what I'm saying is this. Don't be afraid to be yourself. You don't need to be a cool kid if you don't want to. You can be that nerd that loves history and art and all the touristy stuff a city has to offer, and maybe occasionally take a trip to the trendy cafe nearest your hotel. Be flexible. Prepare for a trip, but know that maybe once you're there you won't want to hit all the places you thought were  must-sees. Try something out of your comfort zone, because now's the time, but know you don't need to stay uncomfortable the whole time you're traveling. Just do whatever interests you and enjoy your trip!
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