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

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

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

Ah, the “perfect vacation” — aka 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. It is what it is. Though, this isn’t to say that you can’t have an awesome trip. 

Now that the world is getting back to travelling again, it’s about time we stop and think of ways to be better travellers. So, how about a healthy dose of introspection? Alright, let’s start with eliminating the notion that you must have a perfectly great time, all the time. 

Also read: Travelling Again: How Wanderlust Chases Initial Travel Anxiety Away

1. It defeats the very purpose of a vacation

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Travel should be all about relaxing and letting loose. It’s about leaving (most of) your worries at the door and enjoying the moment. After all, it’s not every day that you can embark on exciting adventures, 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 is, your top priority should always be to enjoy and relax,  without over-fixating on the perfect vacation. I’ll be the first to admit that, after two years of zero travels, I find myself getting a little too excited over planning my upcoming trips. With so many options on where to go and what to see, I have to remind myself that there’ll be time to do these things eventually. What’s more important is to focus on quality over quantity, and live in the moment — especially after years of waiting! 

Also read: 18 Career Paths That Will Open You Up to Travel Opportunities

2. It sets you up for disappointment

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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 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, consider what if it suddenly rains while you’re at the beach. Think of backup plans that are equally enjoyable, like trying out the local cuisine at a nearby restaurant — or perhaps even a cooking class. This should prevent any disappointment, in case things don’t turn out the way you want them to. 

Also read: The Paris Syndrome and Why Asians Suffer From It the Most

3. You have to open yourself up to the unexpected

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

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

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! We can all agree that if there’s one thing that the pandemic-induced travel hiatus taught us, it’s to never take these kinds of moments for granted. 

Also read: 10 Things to Ponder On Now That Borders Are Reopening

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. Hence, 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 mostly be up to you and how you see it.  Roll with the (hopefully occasional) punches and make the most of the cards you’re dealt with. 

It’s also good to keep a healthy, 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 so often. The more you say it (whether in your head or out loud), the more it becomes true. 

6. Let’s be real — perfection is so overrated

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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. 

Clearly, I’m not saying that you shouldn’t be excited about your future trips anymore. After all, the pre-vacation 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 daily routine. It doesn’t have to be picture-perfect, happen exactly the way it should, or even be worthy of being featured in your Top 10 Life Highlights (or, you know, whatever the Gen-Z kids call it nowadays). It just has to bring you happiness. I mean, isn’t that why you’re excited to be travelling again 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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