Being a Guilty Traveller

I’m not sure if any of you experience this when you travel, but when I’m in a lull, either travelling between cities, before I go to sleep at night, or even planning what I’m going to do that day, I feel guilty. I feel guilty that I am not travelling well enough. Does this sound stupid? Well, I feel stupid when I do it, but it doesn’t stop my worrying.

I worry because I haven’t experienced the ‘real’ Amsterdam. When I was in New Orleans I didn’t go to Algiers – I didn’t ‘experience the day-to-day life of the city’. I worry I’m not travelling ‘authentically’ because I didn’t have a fish curry in Sri Lanka that Lonely Planet told me I just had to try.

I worry I don’t do enough when I travel. I’m a cheap person and I hate spending money, so I didn’t do the Empire State building, deciding to do it when I went back to New York either with my sister or maybe when I have $42 to spare on a lift. I still feel guilty about it. I didn’t do all the unique hikes in Nepal that I was told I just had to do, and judge myself for not doing them. I don’t spend money on tours, and feel bad for missing out on that experience, despite the fact that – and here’s the really stupid part – I don’t even like tours!

I don’t like spending a lot of money. I try what I want to try. I do what I feel comfortable with, and push myself fully outside of my comfort zone only occasionally, because let’s be honest, I’m a young female traveller and I feel it’s natural to be a bit more wary about certain situations. I don’t stay out all hours because I don’t want to be walking back to the hostel alone in the dark, and when people question why I don’t just join a group so I can stay out longer, it’s because I want to do what I want, and see what I want, spend what I want. It is, after all, my travel experience.

Even still, knowing all this, I still feel guilty, and feel stupid for feeling guilty, and then feel guilty for feeling stupid.

I want to do ‘different’ trips, like going to Uzbekistan and doing something crazy and unique, but there are other things that I want to do first. And as a result I feel guilty that Uzbekistan isn’t higher up my list.

I’m part Indian, and part Kenyan, and I feel guilty that I haven’t been to either place, which may be the stupidest thing I feel guilty about. Maybe it’s a mixed race thing, wanting to explore – for want of a better word – my heritage, and feeling a bit like a fraud that I haven’t.

I don’t know what makes be feel guilty, whether it’s all the blogs I love and follow where the authors travel all over the world to such diverse and unusual destinations, or the travel magazines I crazily consume, drinking in all the exotic pictures and incredible description of beautiful places. Or maybe I’m just a perfectionist who wants to travel perfectly, even though I keep telling myself there isn’t really a perfect way to travel.

I hope I can get over feeling guilty soon. Not during, but at the end of a long day out, the nice feeling that comes with exploration is numbed somewhat by the guilt, and that is the worst when I just want to enjoy my time travelling.

Do you feel guilty when you travel? Or is it just me?! Let me know.


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