How to Overcome the Fear of Missing Out When Travelling

When I was in New Zealand, I’ve once overheard two young men complain how New Zealand is “too expensive” to do all the tourist activities they want. One, in particular, further explained how he feared he is missing out unless he participates in as many tourist activities as possible. These two young men were in their very early twenties and, from what they’ve said, just started travelling. Yet, they already felt as if they were missing out and were running out of time. They were, however, not the only ones with this fear, I’ve heard many young people during my travels express this fear of missing out.

As someone who was exploring New Zealand for the second time, I just wondered where this fear comes from. Of course, for most people, New Zealand is a distant and expensive place to visit. The average population cannot just jump into the next plane and visit New Zealand whenever they want. It took me seven years before I was able to go back to New Zealand after my first trip in 2009. It may take me another seven years, or much longer, before I’m able to go back.

But, so what? What is wrong with travelling when you’re no longer in your 20s? What stops these young people to go back to New Zealand in 10 years, 20 years, or even 30 years? Travelling is not just for the young. There is nothing wrong with exploring a place for the first time when you’re 60 or older. As long as you’re alive, you’ve still got time to travel and explore.

The Fear that your holidays will suck unless you ‘keep up with the Joneses’

Still, I’m sure we all have been at that point were we feared we were missing out. Where we felt as if we ‘ought to do as much as possible’ in order to have a great holiday. Personally, I’ve had these moments a few times creep up on me during my travels. A few times, I felt bad about ‘not doing anything exciting’, thinking that my time in Te Anau, New Zealand was of lesser value than that of my fellow hostel room-mates who all seemed to live every traveller’s ‘dream life’.

When I was in Te Anau, I haven’t booked a single tourist activity and haven’t seen even one tourist sight. All I did these days was to go for hikes along Te Anau’s lakefront. You know what? I had an amazing time! Now, looking back at my time in New Zealand, I treasure these moments where I just explored my surroundings, whether it being a forest or the city centre, the most.

te anau lakefront wide angle

The truth is, you will never see and do everything you want when travelling. You will only suffer and ruin your precious time by constantly focusing on what you ‘cannot do’. But how can you overcome the fear of missing out? What can you do to enjoy your time as much as possible?

There are three things I always do to combat the fear of missing out when I’m travelling. So the next time, instead of lamenting what you’re missing out on, do these three things instead:

How to Overcome the Fear of Missing Out When Travelling

1.Go for a walk.
Go and explore your surroundings without a particular goal in mind. Get lost in a near-by park or forest. Go and explore the city aimlessly. Just go and see where your feet will carry you. Notice the details around you. What does it smell like? Are there many people nearby? Are they locals or other tourists? What do they do? Is there any street-art on the walls? Is there a nice store or café off the grid? Is there a plant you’ve never seen before? Don’t try to find something exciting to do, just go for a walk and let it find you.

2.Take yourself out for a coffee date.
I know there are many people out there who struggle to take themselves out for coffee dates. Still, do it anyway; go to a local café. Maybe go to one you’ve found during your aimless strolls. Enjoy a local beverage. Try out a local specialty and watch people. Again, the aim is to stop chasing a bucket-list and start enjoying the moment. Once again, try to soak in the details of that place. If you’re out-going and love to meet new people, take this chance to chat with a local. Whatever you do, just enjoy the moment.

3.Let go.
As I’ve written above, you will not see and do everything you want. You will miss out. However, that doesn’t mean that your holiday or travels are terrible or of lesser value. Whether you’re somewhere for a weekend trip or for an entire year, it is not about how many ‘exciting’ activities you can cram into your time. It is about exploring new places. Don’t give in to peer pressure and feel ‘forced’ to do one expensive activity after another if you don’t want to.

“Travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a chance that goes on, deep and permanent in the ideas of living”- Miriam Beard

When was the last time you felt pressured into doing one expensive, and seemingly exciting, activity during your holidays or travels? What did you do to overcome this fear of missing out? Leave a comment down below!

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