There’s nothing quite like new adventures and exploring a fresh destination. You know there is going to be so much to see and do – you want to experience all of it. You might even tend to over pack your schedule sometimes. It’s just that exciting.
While you should get all you can out of each and every one of your travels, it’s also important to remember that you need to mix in some really important chill time. There’s nothing more unenjoyable than coming back from vacation more exhausted than when you left, so leave the FOMO at home and laze for a day guilt free. Here’s why:
You’ll discover your destination in a whole new way.
When you take a minute to pause and stop checking off your tourist ‘to-do’ list, the lens in which you see the city your visiting changes. In reality, it’s one of the first steps to becoming a local. Sit down. Relax – people watch even. It’s the best way to discover how others live their day-to-day lives and really dive into the city.
For example, I hated my first trip to Paris. It was cold, there were strikes and I literally just felt exhausted at the end of every day because we spent most of the time we were there checking off museums and monument – one right after the other until we were so numb, we didn’t really appreciate what we were seeing.
Years later, I ventured back to the city to meet up with some friends, and instead of ‘sightseeing’, we did what every Parisian does – we sat at cafes and people-watched. It was like seeing the city for the first time, and it was brilliant. Paris is now a favorite destination.
You won’t get burnt out.
That bit I mentioned about becoming numb? Yeah, adding in a chill day is especially important to avoid burning yourself out on all the amazing cultural sites that are being thrown in your face when you’re traveling. Your brain has a saturation level, and once you reach it, your senses aren’t going to take in sites the way they normally would. So, take one day. Rest.
You don’t want to look back on a trip to Istanbul and wonder why you stared blankly at the ceiling of Hagia Sophia for fifteen minutes (which was REBUILT in the 537. It’s literally been around for almost a millennia and a half) thinking about your pillow.
It’ll also help your budget.
While, I have learned a whole lot of tricks and hacks for saving a buck and traveling cheap, it is inevitable that you will spend at least some money while you’re out exploring. Parking your behind and having a movie marathon on your laptop for the day is a great way to recharge your mental and physical batteries, as well as give your wallet a little break.
Budgeting can often bring stress, and stress doesn’t result in fun vacation time. Nobody likes that nervous feeling of swiping your card and praying that it says ‘approved.’ If you feel like you might be running low on cash to make it to the end of your trip, it’s the perfect moment to stop and rest for a day. So, don’t sweat it. Just relax and eat the 50-cent pasta from the grocery store. It’s ok.
In fact, a chill day will bring the most memorable moments.
When I think about some of my favorite memories from trips I’ve taken, it’s those ‘rest days’ that often stand out because it becomes more about the people that you are spending your time with – not random pictures of monuments and paintings.
It’s the 3am falafel in Amsterdam that you and your bestie absolutely HAD to have after finishing your 80s movie marathon, hostel curfews be damned.
It’s the mom and little boy you met at a café (that you’d been sitting at, nursing your second coffee, for three hours) who took time to tell you about their favorite places in the city and invited you for ice cream after.
Or, it’s even those chats on the hostel couch with friends about life and dreams – complete with long, comfortable silences – that burn bright in your memory. These are the moments that stick with you.
Traveling can be one of the most rewarding and eye-opening experiences of your life, but if you don’t take some time to stop and appreciate where you are in a particular moment and place – you miss half the point of exploring. Don’t let FOMO take over and force you to push yourself beyond your mental and physical limits. There is value and joy in stopping and just being.
So, take my advice and on your next trip make sure you pencil in some time to chill out.