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The Promise I’m Making To Myself So I Don’t Ruin My Vacation

July 16, 2019
My Vacation Promise_ Tiny Ambitions

I have an embarrassing confession to make. Remember that trip I took to Nova Scotia in May? I barely remember any of it. Even when I was writing the travel diary for it, I struggled to recall what we did on any given day.

And, yes, I am aware of how bizarre this sounds. How could I not remember, in vivid detail, my first ever trip to the east coast?

Well, there are a couple of reasons for my memory lapse, and none of them were drug or alcohol induced (not that that would be better).

Hello Anxiety, My Old Friend

First off, my anxiety was quite bad during our trip. Funnily enough, it’s not the flying that brings out my anxiety, I’m actually a really good flyer. On this trip in particular, the non-stop road tripping across the province kept me in a pretty anxious state.

Before we moved to northern Ontario, I loved going on mini road trips on weekends. They were little getaways where we could explore all of the small communities around us.

I thought I was going to love road tripping across Nova Scotia. After all, it’s such a pretty province that is begging to be explored by the road. What I had forgotten was the lesson I learned when I was in St. Lucia last year. When I am truly on vacation, I need to do a whole lot of nothing. I need to sit in nothingness and give myself a break from the near-constant stimulation I receive on a daily basis.

Doing nothing, or next to nothing is the only thing that helps my brain disconnect and reset and feel rejuvenated. Because we were driving every day, it meant we were staying in a new place almost every single night. This meant unpacking and repacking almost every day. This meant I had to orient myself to new surroundings every single day.

This might seem like a fun adventure/challenge to some people. But for me, my anxiety derives comfort and is soothed by the familiar and the known. Road tripping across Nova Scotia gave me the exact opposite of that. Not even once during the whole 10 days we were away, did I feel relaxed or like I was on vacation. I was trapped in a metal box for hours each day, trying to cram in as much as possible. So much so that nothing is really clear from the trip.

Lest You Think I’m Complaining

I know this probably sounds like I’m complaining. It probably sounds like I am ungrateful for this incredible travel opportunity. But, I promise I’m not. I am beyond frustrated and upset that this was my experience. I’m disappointed in myself that I couldn’t have the perfect vacation (if such a thing even exists) because of my anxiety. More than anything, I wish I could have appreciated and enjoyed our trip more.

Vacation Through My Phone’s Camera

Part of the problem was my anxiety. The other part of the problem was my phone. Or, more accurately, the belief that I needed to photograph every moment to death.

What I remember most from our Nova Scotia trip was having my phone in front of my face, trying to capture every moment/destination/meal. In doing so, I was never really able to be present in my actual trip. I was experiencing the trip through my phone.

Now, this is where I insert my standard disclaimer. There is nothing wrong with documenting a trip or a day or a moment in your life. And, in fact, you should do all of the above as a simple act of celebrating your life.

I just overdid it on the trip and couldn’t separate my desire to be on my trip with my desire to photograph it. And, honestly, I should know better at this point. I really should.

No Repeat, Please

I’m going to Europe for the first time in my life this summer. And I do not want a repeat of Nova Scotia. I want to remember the trip. I want to be fully present. I want to actually be there when we’re there.

And I don’t want to ruin it.

So, these are the promises I’m making to myself:

  • I promise to take photographs for me, not for my Instagram.
  • I promise to give myself permission to relax.
  • I promise to give myself some grace when we have hiccups on our travels.

Just by virtue of the trip we have planned, I think it will be easier for me to stay present and keep my anxiety in check. We’ll be spending more time in each location, which will help me feel more settled. and, thankfully, we’ll only have a car on a very small island for a couple of days so that will also minimize my sense of constant movement and uneasiness.

Let’s Be Realistic

Of course, I’m not expecting the trip to be some perfect fantasy land of relaxation and bliss. In fact, I’m sure lots of stuff won’t go to plan. All I’m really hoping for is that I can get out of my own way long enough to enjoy this trip that we’ve spent so long planning.

Do you have any travel plans for the summer? I hope you’re enjoying your summer wherever you are!

Image Credit: Photo by La So on Unsplash

  • Snarking to Freedom July 21, 2019 at 8:03 pm

    Oh hello, how did you exactly describe my entire life? 😅
    The memory wiping effect of anxiety is so weird, I try to explain it to non-anxious people and they just don’t get it.

    • Britt July 21, 2019 at 8:06 pm

      Right?! It’s taken me years to figure out why my memory has always been a bit wonky. Turns out, I’ve been anxious for as long as I can remember, with memory ‘loss’ being one of my only symptoms for quite some time. Thanks for reading!

  • Savvy History July 21, 2019 at 1:56 pm

    Love the great ideas for mindfulness here. There’s so much to learn from this post (especially the idea of taking of taking pictures for yourself instead of for Instagram). Sometimes the pressure of trying to make things look nice ruins the experience in the moment. I hope you enjoy Europe! It sounds like you are going in with a good amount of planning and beautiful intentions.

    • Britt July 21, 2019 at 8:04 pm

      Thank you for your kind words! A certain amount of going with the flow will help me not ruin the moment lol

  • […] I’m taking a break from Tiny Bites over the summer, see you in September! Follow along with my travels this summer on […]

  • Pam July 18, 2019 at 11:46 am

    Oh my goodness, thank you for a real honest assessment of your vacation! Right on- you hit it on the head.
    We try so hard to make all right and perfect when what we need is time, space, and to breath to be able to take all in.
    Thank you for telling your story as it helps me (us your readers) reassess our vacations by defining and living them as we should not as we ought to!
    We need to “be” and not always “do”

    Bless you Britt!

    • Britt July 18, 2019 at 12:26 pm

      Thank you so much for your kind words, Pam! And I couldn’t agree more. We need to spend more time being and a lot less time doing.

  • Tread Lightly, Retire Early July 17, 2019 at 12:43 pm

    Our two week road trip up the East Coast was similar (though we stayed usually two nights at a time). That experience is exactly why we’re taking a solid week and a half in Iceland and not trying to overlap it with another country. Plus, we are going car free for the first bit to purposefully slow ourselves down.

    • Britt July 17, 2019 at 12:53 pm

      Oh I love that! I’m excited to be car-free in Italy. Have an awesome time in Iceland!!

  • The Luxe Strategist July 16, 2019 at 1:58 pm

    Britt, I am so excited for your trip to Europe! You’re going to have an amazing time.

    I like to push things to the limit, so I’ve had to learn to scale things back when I travel with my husband. That means we now have a rule where we stay at each destination point for at least two nights. If we were packing up every day that would be way too much moving around for my husband.

    I love taking pictures on my trips! But I’ve always been that way, even pre-IG. Always the person documenting stuff at parties, etc. I also don’t really need pictures of me in them, and they’re usually of the destination itself. So that makes it easier, because I’m not worrying how I look, etc. I think if you’re spending tons of time taking pictures JUST for Instagram, then that could be an issue, but I think for most people it’s a compromise where they take a quick snap and upload in batches.

    • Britt July 16, 2019 at 5:37 pm

      Thanks Luxe!! I’m getting excited to. Your husband sounds like the kind of traveler I am! Slow and steady lol it’s good you’ve been able to find a flow that works for both of you when you’re travelling. That might need to be a rule I institute moving forward.

      I also love taking pictures, I just for sure over did it in the past. I didn’t feel that way when I was in St.Lucia, but than again, I was in the same place for the whole week so maybe that helped temper my camera finger.

      I do agree with you though, batch uploading is for sure the way to go.

    Hey! I'm Britt. I write about living a tiny, simple, intentional life. Because life doesn't need to be lived big.