Can You Avoid Disappointment When You Travel?

The curious subject of avoiding disappointment when traveling was brought up on Lara Dunston’s Excellent Cool Travel Guide.

Why curious? I guess I’m just a yin yang sorta guy. You know, there is no good without evil, there is no disappointment without appointment—that kinda progressive and onerous thinking that went out with sideburns and peacock feathers in the hot tub full o’ nekid babes in the early 70s.

Sorry. In any case the thing is this: you’re afraid you won’t be excited on your vacation, so you lower your expectations…

Whoa! Down the slippery slope you go, fella. Yeah, and you can lift yourself up by the bootstraps, too.

There’s another thing that happens. Folks are often so worried that they’ll be disappointed that they plan out precisely every millisecond of their vacation, often based on the expectations of others (“So, Mr. Martin, what’s the best thing to do in Rome?”)

Sure, these over-planning types aren’t likely to be disappointed. Of course, they’re highly unlikely to experience that electric fireball that zips up one’s spine when something totally and delightfully surprising happens either. That’s because they’ve planned not to have surprises which could disappoint them. But, if you’ve planned expertly to meet your expectations and are successful, you will only have met your expectations; you can’t exceed them. Heck, that’s not good enough for me.

Listen up. You can filter out the highs and lows by planning to the nth degree. But why give up the opportunity to be truly moved by your vacation? Dang, what if you filtered out all the high and low frequencies of the music you listen to on that $15,000 stereo you bought with your bailout check? That’d be nuts, eh?

You want to hear every nuance of that syncopation, that tiny delay that disappoints in order to thrill you ever so much when it comes. Try it: do re me fa so la ti … do. Do your hips swing? Eh?

Let’s look at another example. Perhaps on your vacation you see some banner hanging over a road announcing a festival in the next town over. Before you know what hit you, you’ve given up on that trip you planned to the Tourniquet and Band-aid museum and you’re heading down the road to a small town truffle festival. You don’t need directions because the sexy smell is so strong you can put it on autopilot. Right there in the middle of the piazza you fall in love with the babe shaving the truffles over your steaming lasagne, get married, have a couple of kids who win Nobel prizes and vow to take care of you in your old age, when you’re too feeble to stroke anything with that peacock feather.

See? Flexibility is the key.

Ok, here’s the punch line. Learn all you can about the culture of where you’re going. Learn what makes it tick. Learn the polite words like hello, thanks, good morning and sorry. Then, if you really feel ready for the vacation of your life…relax, and, are you ready for the big tip?

Here it is: Submit. Let it captivate you.

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Now read some tips from sane people over at the Cool Travel Guide: Tips on Avoiding Disappointment When You Travel


Can You Avoid Disappointment When You Travel? originally appeared on WanderingItaly.com , updated: Mar 20, 2009 © .

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