The stopover. A little bit of stolen time before launching into your next travel adventure. At first, it seems like a beautiful bonus, to tick one more destination off your travel bucket list. But that's before the immensity of the task renders your itchy feet senseless and directionless in a sea of shiny travel brochures.
Of course, you can always opt for the generic bus tours that whisk you to all the sights in a matter of hours. The downfall is the feeling of barely scratching the surface, while spending far too much time with your seat and the disembodied voice of a tour guide crackling through the speakers.
Choosing what to do is more about mind over matter. About comforting your 'FOMO' enough to actually enjoy the experience, rather than arrive back at the airport in a flustered, dissatisfied daze. Only problem is, how to conquer 'fear of missing out'?
As a travel addict, I've learnt that my most cherished experiences have simply fallen on my head as a result of staying put. Of soaking up the atmosphere, truly observing my surroundings and getting the 'feel' of a place, rather than trying to conquer it.
Recently, I had 24 hours in London. Thankfully, I'd already done the rounds of Buckingham Palace, Big Ben and the Tower of London on a previous trip. It didn't help, however, as I agonised over how to spend the time I knew would run swiftly through the hourglass - as I scrambled to catch the sand and hold it still.
My thoughts went something like this. Should I check out an upcoming, edgy district, like Elephant and Castle? After all, I've always wanted to go to Ministry of Sound to check out a show. Or, should I just go to South Bank and stroll along the Thames and take in the incredible skyline? Maybe there's a show I simply can't miss at West End? I wonder which markets are on? Is the Queen in residence? That means I'll have to go to Buckingham Palace just in case I get a glimpse.
Spoilt for choice? Absolutely. As if that makes it any easier to be decisive.
Go with Your Gut
What I eventually realised was, all of the choices sounded great, but none of them necessarily caught me in a grip of excitement. Travel is a big deal. It's expensive and a lot of effort goes into getting anywhere. The key is to let go of you what you think you should see, do and experience, aka travel brochures, and just go with your gut. Especially when you only have limited time.
As soon as I acknowledged this, decisiveness appeared. What did I want to feel, rather than see? FOMO kicked and screamed for a bit as my mind wondered to an idyllic English town, with a river, swans, boats and fish and chips. And so I found myself spending a scrumptious day in Windsor, rather than heading to the city at all.
We're so bombarded with enticing options, often we can't see beyond the shininess, in order to settle into what we really want. It doesn't help that FOMO swims like a shark above the surface, snapping at every opportunity, greedy to consume it all.
In that pursuit though, lies an emptiness that only strives for more and usually achieves nothing. When you conquer FOMO, travel becomes the rich tapestry you're searching for, among the ordinary rugs.