You can’t do it all

Chile, Mindful Travel

Since posting the challenges of travel article, we’ve had a few people get in touch to say that one of the hardest things for them occurs during the planning stage when deciding exactly where to go and what to do.

We can probably all agree that with so many destinations on offer, it can be difficult to decide upon which places to visit – particularly if we have a limited amount of time. Even once we’ve worked out where we’ll actually go, there’s still the task of figuring out what to do when we’re there… These two examples are hardly bad situations – they’re part of travel after all – but that doesn’t make them any easier!

I’ll be the first to admit that it took me a long time to realise (and then come to terms with) the fact that it’s impossible to do everything… To be honest, I still struggle with the concept occasionally, twelve years of travel later!

So how do you deal with the disappointment of having to draw a line through a place that you’d love to go to? Firstly, you could try looking at it from a different perspective – rather than spreading your time between several places, you now have an opportunity to really experience the ones that you’ve decided to visit.

In my first few years of travel, I often jumped from place to place in an attempt to see as much as possible, but it never really works out that way – for each new place you visit, there’s an additional bus ride, flight or train journey, which obviously cuts into your time to enjoy that destination. Fair enough, there are some places that only ‘need’ one day, but they’re probably the exception, rather than the rule.

With relation to the experiencing stage, it’s helpful to know that travel plans can often change when you’re on the road. For example, you might end up really liking a place and staying for a lot longer than expected, impacting the rest of your trip. This happened to me with Hoi An in Vietnam – twice! On both occasions, I just carried on with my trip and made the most of the places I was able to visit, rather than worrying about the ones I now had to miss.

Other factors that may contribute to a change in your schedule include sickness and bad weather, but it’s important not to dwell on the thought of missing somewhere you wanted to go and focus on enjoying your next destination instead.

When I was in South America a few years ago, landslides meant that the highway between Santiago and Mendoza was closed, completely changing my plans to head back into Argentina. I could have done it, but it would have taken four times as long, so instead I went to San Pedro de Atacama, somewhere I may not have gone otherwise. The people I met and the experiences I had there meant that I didn’t give a second thought to Mendoza or Salta.

Similarly, you may also run out of time in a particular place and not be able to fit in every activity that you’d hoped. Rather than being disappointed that you didn’t get to see or do something that you had planned, try to be grateful for the things you did manage to see and do in that location.

There’s also every chance that you’ll meet someone during your travels that’s going somewhere you’ve never heard of and their description of the place convinces you to head along with them… These are often some of the best experiences and you’ll probably completely forget about your original plans!

If you do end up missing out on going to a place that you simply have to visit at some stage in your life, you have the perfect excuse to return to that country in the future – Mendoza and Salta are still on my list and I really don’t think that heading back to one of my favourite countries would be such a bad thing!

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