Travelers are blessed with their ability to travel the world and explore new places. It’s a wonderful experience, but vacation time, lack of money, and visa restrictions often limit the amount of time you can spend at each destination. This means you can’t see everything and will miss plenty of new places.
Blogs and guidebooks have lists of things we can do at each destination, and Instagram will surely give you even more inspiration! In other words, there are more places to explore than time will allow, so you are going to miss out sometimes. So how do you deal with fear of missing out, FOMO for short?
Face it, you can’t see everything
Imagine that your flight lands in the Philippines. You couldn’t be more excited to explore the white sand beaches and to snorkel in the crystal clear waters of the Pacific Ocean. A friend of yours recommended visiting El Nido, as it has one of the most beautiful beaches in the world.
Upon arrival, you find out that there are 4 different island tours to choose from: A, B, C and D. Each tour goes to a different island, and there is no single trip that visits them all. You will need to choose one. Tour C seems to be the best, but means missing that gorgeous lagoon from Tour A. And with Tour B you’d have that amazing cliff dive, but not that white sand beach with palm trees from Tour D. Let’s face it, you will miss some sights during your trip.
Travel to explore, not to regret
You traveled to El Nido to see the most beautiful beaches, but from the moment you arrived, you’ve been overloaded with different options. To make it even more complicated, a few hours later you meet a fellow traveler who just came back from a 3-day island expedition. It sounds like a trip to paradise, but soon you find out that it’s already fully booked for the next few weeks.
During dinner, you think about all the options but don’t know which one to choose. How will you be sure not to miss the best ones? Short answer: You won’t. It’s time to work on appreciating what you can do without regretting what you can’t.
Why do you travel?
Maybe you need a few weeks to unwind from a stressful job, you want a break after graduating, or you simply want a relaxing holiday. No matter the reason, we travel to explore and experience our beautiful planet. That’s why it’s so important to find the good things in each experience.
On my island hopping adventure in El Nido, we missed out on the incredible Big Lagoon, which appeared to be one of the best spots to see. Instead, we visited gorgeous beaches which we had all to ourselves! Maybe I didn’t take that perfect Instagram capture, but the wonderful time we shared on that empty white sand beach was worth a million images.
Appreciate what you can do:
Plan the things you definitely want to see and leave some time for spontaneous moments.
Maybe you came to see a particular waterfall. If that’s the case, make it your first priority, but also be sure to research other attractions online. This way you can plan for yourself what YOU want to get out of this visit. Everything else is extra.
Write down your 3 favorite experiences in each place you visit.
I learned this technique from the book “The Happiness Advantage.” Write down your 3 favorite experiences of the day and your brain will relive these moments. This can be anything from getting up early to see the sunrise or drinking a cup of coffee with a local. Sometimes we start to take the things we see for granted. This technique will help you to appreciate all of your experiences and remember how lucky we are to travel.
Share your stories with other travelers and friends back home.
Now you know what your favorite experiences are, you can start to share these amazing stories with your friends. Don’t just send them pictures of how amazing it is, but also share some context. This will make it an interactive conversation in which you can take your friends into your experiences.
Give something back.
Research shows that people feel happier when they give versus when buying something for themselves. This stays true when traveling.
See yourself as a guest visiting someone’s backyard. Local residents likely see countless tourists coming and going. To make this a pleasant experience for them too, make sure you give something back. Buy food at the local restaurant or pick up some local crafts for a start.
My big time favorite: reward a local who has been extra helpful or friendly to you. One of the most rewarding moments during my travel is when I can give a (relatively) enormous tip for a simple service. For you, it will be a little amount, but for a local, it might be a tremendous gift that will surely make their day. The reactions you’ll get are unforgettable.
And finally, try volunteering for a local project. I attended a beach clean-up during my stay at the surf island Siargao. Together with dozens of local kids, we cleaned the entire beach and shared our surfboards with them as a reward for their efforts. The beach looked so beautiful afterward, and the smiles of the local kids were unforgettable.
Attend a meditation or yoga class.
Appreciation starts with finding peace in your mind and giving yourself the time to become conscious about what you experience. Through meditation, stop taking everything for granted and start living in the moment. If you’ve never tried it before, use your trip as an opportunity to attend a meditation or yoga class.
Do what you like, not what others tell you.
Besides these tips, it’s always good to prioritize the things that excite you the most instead of doing it for the ‘Gram. If you like relaxing on beaches, make sure you have plenty of beach days. If you’re into diving, spend enough time exploring the magnificent underwater world. If you’re big on surfing, make sure you don’t waste too much time on land!
If you have the flexibility, leave some room for spontaneous moments or day trips. But in every case, I strongly recommend researching your routes beforehand. I’ve used the online travel guide GeckoRoutes.com when planning my trip to South East Asia. This website compares hundreds of different travel routes and helped me find many new experiences.
Missing out is a good thing!
If you’ve experienced FOMO, it’s probably because the destination had far more to offer than you could have imagined. That’s a good thing! It’ll be sad when you have to pack your bag and leave this wonderful place. But hopefully, you’ll have learned how to appreciate the things that were most important to you.
And if you didn’t see everything you wanted, then this place deserves another visit. Come back in a few years and see how the place has changed. You’ll see it from a different perspective, and you’ll start to feel more like a local who cares, not just an anonymous tourist.
Keep on dreaming about returning for another adventure.