My travel style has changed since I took my first big trip, but I still love it: venturing out in the unknown, discovering new and unexpected delights. But I used to struggle with the ideas in my head that made me unhappy.
Now I’m more in tune with what I want out of travel and why I enjoy it. That’s what seeking meaningful experiences is about – finding the experiences that mean something to you personally. The trick is to figure out how to get more experiences like that. But I digress…
Once I got the right mindset, I was able to enjoy travel more fully. Here are four mistakes that taught me to fully embrace travel.
I Wanted to Relive the Past
The more I tried to bring back good feelings from the past, the bigger the chance I’d feel let down.
Instead of trying to get the past back I should have been focusing on making new memories in the present.
Trying to recreate something that made me feel good seemed like a great idea, but the truth was…I couldn’t. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t go back in time and do a great experience over again.
It wasn’t a mistake to love Las Vegas the first time I went, so I didn’t expect to not love it the second time. Or the third. But that’s exactly what happened, and not getting my good feelings back made me feel jaded.
Now I’ve learned that when I re-visit a destination, I need to clear my mind of expectations. I try to embrace travel by looking forward to what’s changed, and take a fresh view. I acknowledge that things will be different. The past stays in the past and that’s OK.
I Refused to Change My Mind
Fighting change can work for a while but it won’t work forever. I was stubborn and didn’t allow myself to change my mind, leaving me unfulfilled when I traveled.
The entire world is constantly changing, each moment different from the last. Even though I was changing too, I didn’t want to admit it to myself.
When I insisted that I’d always love a destination, that didn’t make it true – it meant I was stubborn about changing my mind.
Change makes me uncomfortable – I wouldn’t be human if it didn’t. But I learned that instead of fighting it, I should go with it. I was only making myself miserable by pretending to like something I didn’t.
Now I’m OK about changing my mind about where and how I like to travel. Sure, I used to love going on pub crawls. But it’s fine to change my mind about it 10 years later.
I know that what I enjoy about a vacation today isn’t going to be what I enjoy about my vacations forever.
I Didn’t Try New Interests
When I traveled, it was easy to relax and let things happen. Without thinking of new ways to enjoy traveling…it got boring. Engaging my mind inspired me, helped me embrace travel fully.
Whether it’s food, wildlife, shopping, or history, exploring a new interest helped me take a different perspective of a destination.
I made a point of thinking about different interests while I traveled instead of seeking the same types of experiences over and over. When I felt like I was getting bored, I focused on something else I was interested in. Engaging my mind with new interests made travel into a rewarding experience.
Especially when I returned to a destination, by focusing on different pursuits it became new and fresh. I learned to leave boredom behind by finding new interests, and hence new ways to enjoy traveling.
I Was Thinking Negatively
Traveling isn’t all sunshine and rainbows and when something happened that I didn’t like, I used to let it ruin my entire trip.
Now when something unpleasant happens, I change my thoughts and focus on things I do like.
It was easy to let negative feelings like resentment or disappointment take over my mind. Dwelling on these negative feelings made it difficult to acknowledge the good things that were happening.
By making a point to think about good things when I my mood turned negative, the more positive experiences I had. When I chose to focus on positive things instead of negative ones, the black clouds in my mind disappeared.
My Mind is Powerful
It’s inevitable that when I travel things will happen that are out of my control. But I’ve learned that I can fully embrace travel by choosing to enjoy it. I can choose to be happy or unhappy, the same way I can choose whether I have a good or a bad travel experience.
I’ve made some big mistakes learning how to embrace travel, but I’ve learned that overcoming these mistakes is all in my head. Changing my mindset and the way I think about travel is an ongoing challenge.
And that’s what I love about travel – it’s always going to be different, and so am I.
Want to read more about how terrible a traveler I am? Confession: I’m the Worst Traveler – Part 1