Why You Can't (and Shouldn't) Force A Perfect Vacation

Why You Can’t (and Shouldn’t) Force A Perfect Vacation

Trust me — realistic expectations go a long, long way.

Ah, the perfect vacation — A.K.A. the elusive unicorn for many travellers, both new and experienced. While we all have different reasons for travelling, I’d like to believe it all boils down to having a wonderful time. But alas, just like the unicorn, the concept of a perfect vacation is also a myth. Sorry to disappoint you, because it is what it is. Though this isn’t to say that you can’t have an awesome trip — no, we’re not saying that at all. 

And while we certainly can’t travel in the meantime, that doesn’t mean we should take it completely off our minds. So, how about a healthy dose of introspection and maybe even planning what travel resolutions you should make? Starting with eliminating the notion that you must have a perfect vacation. 

Also read: 6 Bad Travel Habits That Are Ruining Your Vacation

1. It defeats the very purpose of a vacation

Travel should be all about relaxing and letting loose. It’s about leaving (most of) your worries at the door and enjoying the moment. Hey, it’s not every day that you can embark on exciting adventures after all, right? 

In fact, most people travel for a short escape from their mundane lives. And while this isn’t always the case for others (I personally believe that we should live lives that we don’t want to run away from), the ‘escape’ part definitely adds to the novelty of travelling. But whatever your main reason to travel is, your top priority should always be to enjoy and relax — without over-fixating on the perfect vacation. 

2. It sets you up for disappointment

Disappointments are already inevitable in our usual everyday lives. So, might as well do our best to avoid these while we’re on vacation, right? And the first step is to do away with the idea of a perfect vacation. Learn to be okay with the fact that things will most probably not go exactly as how you planned. 

In fact, many studies have proven that over-planning your leisure time (in this case, your much-awaited trip) can really ruin the fun. No matter how meticulously you plan, there will always be at least one factor that’s beyond your control. This is especially true for when you’re travelling somewhere you haven’t been to before. 

Take the weather, for instance. Instead of envisioning cloudless skies throughout your five-day Bali getaway, think about what if it suddenly rains while you’re at the beach. Think of back-up plans that are equally enjoyable, like trying out the local cuisine at a nearby restaurant, for starters. This should prevent any disappointment, in case things don’t turn out the way you want them to. 

3. You have to open yourself up to the unexpected

perfect vacation

Though this isn’t to say that you shouldn’t take the necessary safety precautions and whatnot. The point is — sometimes,  great things happen when you least expect them. I know you’ve probably heard this way too many times, even when travelling isn’t really the topic, but it’s true. 

It’s all about managing your expectations, while not being a full-on pessimist. The trick here is to keep an open mind — especially to new experiences. You never know when you’ll chance upon a pleasant surprise or two as you go along. 

4. You should appreciate the little things

perfect vacation

The movie Zombieland said it best, “Rule number 32: enjoy the little things — it’ll keep your sanity.” Sure, this popular 2009 flick is light-years away from being about the perfect vacation. But there’s no denying that Rule #32 is something we should all live by. 

So, yes, it’s all about appreciating the little things. And more often than not, these are the ones that aren’t part of your itinerary or expected outcomes. (Say, that soon-to-be inside joke between you and your friends after getting stuck at the hotel elevator.)  This also helps you enjoy the whole picture, especially when you look back at your trip after months or even years. 

5. It’s what you make of it

Similar to how it is with your daily life, your vacation is what you make of it. So, yes, it helps to have a plan and maybe even a deep purpose for your trip. But as I’ve mentioned earlier, there’ll always be something unexpected down the road. Whether it’s a good or bad kind of unexpected, that’ll be up to you and how you see it.  Roll with the (hopefully occasional) punches and make the most with what you have.

It’s also good to keep a healthily positive mindset. Occasional mood swings — most likely induced by hunger or tired feet — aside, of course. Personally, I find it particularly effective whenever I think to myself, “I’m having such a good time right now” every now and then. The more you say it, whether in your mind or out loud, the more it becomes true. 

6. Perfection is so overrated

perfect vacation

Enough with glorifying the whole concept of perfect. I mean, what does it even mean, really? And as far as travel goes, I don’t think there’s any real, uncontested definition of a ‘perfect vacation.’ That said, it’s pointless to be fixated on such a vague concept. 

Though this is definitely not to say that you shouldn’t be excited about your trip anymore. Of course not — the pre-travel anticipation is always part of the fun! But don’t focus too much on perfection. Look forward to a good and memorable time, without the expectation that it’ll be the best time of your life.  Travelling is great and all that, but a perfect vacation should never be the be-all and end-all. 

Also read: More Than Two-Thirds of People Lie About How Amazing Their Vacation Was, New Survey Reveals

So, instead of planning (or more like forcing) the perfect vacation, here’s what you should aim for: a memorable and enjoyable time away from your everyday life. It doesn’t have to be picture-perfect, happen exactly the way it should, or even be worthy of being featured in your Ultimate Life Highlights. It just has to bring you happiness. I mean, isn’t that why you’re taking the trip in the first place? 

About Author

Marcy Miniano
Marcy Miniano

A fast-talking caffeine-dependent wordsmith, Marcy has never been one to shy away from sharing a good story or two. If she’s not in a quiet coffee shop somewhere, she enjoys spending afternoons in a museum or art gallery — whether it’s around Metro Manila or a foreign city she’s visiting. She wishes to retire in a winter village someday, so she can fulfil her lifelong dream of wearing turtlenecks all year round and owning a pet penguin.


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