In preparation for my travels, I am developing a set of guidelines for traveling with fibromyalgia. My latest thought came to me while gardening this morning. I was digging out a particularily stubborn weed and thinking about how all my effort would require a nap later in the afternoon if I didn’t want to collapse in exhaustion before a friend’s birthday dinner. The perfectionist in me began to complain, claiming it was lazy to nap away an afternoon that could be spent cleaning, writing, reading, or gardening. That’s when it hit me – to avoid the extremes of either constant guilt-trips or landing myself in the hospital, I will need to adjust my expectations of what I can physically do while traveling.
Key #2: Adjust your expectations. The days of non-stop, go-til-you-drop sightseeing is a thing of the past. It is physically impossible for me to see and do every sight and activity in a tightly condensed schedule. I have to accept this reality and avoid feeling guilty. Besides, travel is supposed to be relaxing, an escape from the daily routine – guilt is not welcome!
Of course, this is easier said than done for a recovering perfectionist. I need to rewire how I think about travel and daily life. Instead of rushing to the next big sight, I should instead live in the moment and savor the experience. Find a cafe and nurse a cup of espresso as the people parade passes by. Lounge on the glittering waters of the Adriatic. Leisurely stroll the streets and interact with the locals. Try the locals’ method of relaxation, like the Turkish baths in Budapest.
In other words, instead of trying to fit as much as possible into 24 hours, I should choose one major sight a day, such as a museum, and expect to spend the rest of my day living. By slowing down, I will give my body a chance to restore its energy, and I will experience the world from a different, possibly even better, perspective. I will notice the details I would have otherwise missed while rushing to the next crowded museum. I might even make some new friends! The less I behave like a tourist, the more open I am to new people and experiences.
In the end, if I expect less of my sightseeing itinerary and allow myself a leisurely pace, I’ll have a richer, healthier travel experience. Without the side of guilt.