Making the most of the experience

You may notice that when you announce your travel plans to your friends and family, all of a sudden you become inundated with advice. Some helpful, mostly not so helpful. And, a whole lot of horror stories that try to scare you off the beaten track and into an organised bus tour.

I like to think that this is most people’s way of showing that they care. Perhaps they’re a little worried about your safety or that your dreams are too… well…. dream like. But, at times you can’t help but let the advice persuade you into doing things that you don’t really want to do.

So how do you make the most of your travel experience, when your head is fast becoming clouded with doubt and unsolicited advice?

For me, this one is easy. I smile at the advice, and let it go over my head. You see, last year before I left New Zealand for 3 months in South East Asia I was told that I had to buy a 3 day pass to the Angkor Wat Temples. Because, 1 day just isn’t enough to take it all in. I’d seen pictures and I had to admit they looked pretty incredible. After about 3 hours of temples all looking same same, I kept getting distracted by all the beautiful butterflies that were fluttering about. I was there to see these formidable structures, pieces of history that go far beyond the history of my country. But, these butterflies were just beautiful and whilst I was in awe of the temples, I couldn’t take my eyes of these tiny whimsical little creatures.

After 6 hours of temple watching, I asked my driver to take me to the Butterfly farm where I spent the rest of my afternoon. Learning about how they breed the various types of butterfly and taking lots of pictures. To be fair, this isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. But, it’s my cup of tea and I don’t need to please everyone.

When I was young, my Dad spent a lot of time in Cambodia working on the water supply for the local Beer. When he returned from each trip, he would bring me a collection of postage stamps adorned with brightly coloured butterflies. And there I was in Siem Reap, the same place he’d been 20 years prior seeing these butterflies with my own eyes. That experience for me was heart warming and a clear example of how easily distracted I am.

There’s no point signing yourself up for things that only slightly interest you, just because someone told you that you should check it out. Sign yourself up for the things that your heart tells you to do, and leave the rest of the itinerary open. I promise that you will fill it easily enough once you reach your destination and you’re distracted by whatever it is that gets you going.

Everyone’s experience and perspective is different. You don’t need to worry about meeting others expectations or recreating someone else’s travel dreams. This is your life and your vacation. So, do it your way. By all means, gain inspiration by other peoples experience and be smart enough to know when your safety is at risk. But other than that, just go wherever the wind takes you.

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