Whether you travel to vacation, write about it or photograph it, you may experience some form of traveler’s guilt some day. This can rear its ugly head in many ways – from worrying about work, to feeling like you should have brought the kids, or in my case, feeling like I should be adventuring instead of relaxing. (Hey! Even travel bloggers need some R&R sometimes!) Here are a few helpful tips to tame that rambunctious guilty voice in your head.
First off, lighten up lady (or gent)! Sorry to break it to you, but you’re not that important. I know it’s hard to swallow, but you’re not. The world will indeed go on while you relax on the beach sipping piña coladas in Mexico. You’ll be amazed at how self-sufficient people can be when their crutch (you) isn’t available to answer all the questions. Whether it’s your assistant, your boss, or your babysitter – they’ll figure it out. Plus, who wants to pay for those international phone calls anyway? If it a real emergency they’ll find a way to contact you, so relax!
Secondly, understand that we all need a break sometimes. We are people, not robots. If we deny ourselves time to recharge we will inevitably burn out. Our performance will suffer, we will become irritable and we won’t be so pleasant to be around. Do you really want to be that person? I know I don’t!
I felt it was important to get both of those points across straight away, mostly because the majority of the people I interact with on a daily basis struggle with this. Managers at my office are responding to work e-mails on their days off or while they are supposed to be on vacation. I’m sure this sounds familiar. Stop it! Stop it! Stop it!
Now, I’d like to touch on what made me decide to write this post. I just got back to New York from a fabulous trip to Costa Rica. The 5 hour flight home gave me plenty of time to reflect on the time I spent there. I realized that I felt guilty – really guilty. I felt like I should have done more – more activities, more excursions, more photography, more everything.
Generally when I travel I plan out every minute of every day. I research my next destination compulsively until I’m sure I have as many of the best activities crammed into my time there. This time, I didn’t. I made no plans – not ‘a one.
I did arrange my flights, hotel and airport transfers in advance, but not one activity. It’s not that I didn’t research them. I most definitely did – for weeks. It’s completely against my instincts not to plan, but something in my subconscious kept me from planning. Maybe I needed to recharge? And if that’s the case, then why am I filled with guilt?
I imagine this is something that many travel bloggers deal with when they need to relax. If I don’t feed my inherent hunger to see new places, meet new people and learn about new cultures, I’m ridden with guilt! Crazy, I know. No week-long vacations sipping margs on the beach for this gal.
Let me paint the picture for you – after my morning hike where I discovered a private beach on the Gulf of Papagayo, I dined on fresh ceviche at a poolside restaurant and sipped tropical sangria. I spent 2 or 3 hours working on my Instagram account poolside, I toured the hotel property on foot up a cliff, followed by another 2 or 3 hours working on Instagram by the pool, a working dinner, and then to bed. Mind you I was taking photos for the blog and Instagram the entire day.
I was productive, I relaxed a little and I hiked through the Costa Rican jungle to find a secluded beach. On that flight home all I could think about was how I didn’t hike the Arenal volcano, I didn’t go ziplining, I didn’t hike to Rio Celeste, I didn’t ride a horse on the beach, and I didn’t do the ATV tour. Heck, I didn’t even take a Costa Rican cooking class!
Now some background – I work at least 40 hours a week at my hotel job, and I spend every other waking moment working on my blog and social media accounts.
Right before I started writing this article it dawned on me – I was really, incredibly burnt out! My subconscious made me do what I needed to do to recharge – and I still fought myself by working while relaxing! Oye!
The moral of the story, and my last tip, is to just listen to yourself! You will do what you need to do. Don’t fight it.
I’m not a robot. You’re not a robot. We are allowed to go to an amazing new city, state, country, continent, and do nothing. We are still there. We’re still meeting locals, eating new foods, and experiencing local culture – even if you don’t leave the hotel. Sure it won’t be as authentic as if you went to a small village, but it’s still a new experience in a new place. Don’t discredit what you want or need to do at that moment in time.
Just live. Be happy. Stop feeling guilty. Stop worrying. Let yourself be free. You deserve it!
Stay tuned to hear about my adventures in Costa Rica later this week!!
Much Love Dolls,