FOMO, the “fear of missing out,” pops up in all types of situations, but it can be especially stressful when you’re in the end-stages of planning a trip. No matter where you’re going, how long you’ll be there, and what your travel budget may be, you’re going to miss out on seeing or doing something great, and you’re going to come across someone who will be happy to bring this to your attention. If you’re lucky, that person might just say something like, “It’s too bad you can’t make it to _____, because it’s my favorite restaurant in the entire world.” But other times, like last Sunday, for example, it comes across like this:
Family Member: So tell me about your upcoming Australia trip! What does your itinerary look like?
Me: We’re so excited! We’re spending five nights in Manly Beach, then flying to Melbourne for a weekend, then flying back to Sydney for five nights in Bondi Beach, then we have four nights that haven’t been planned yet, then we’re flying up to Ballina for three nights in Byron Bay, and then we’ll have just one more night in Sydney before we fly back home.
FM: You’re not going to the Great Barrier Reef?
Me: No, unfortunately not on this trip. I asked an Aussie friend to help with our itinerary and she said that Queensland is unbearably hot and humid in December so the furthest north we should go is Byron Bay.
FM: I went to Cairns in December [20+ years ago] and it was fine. The Great Barrier Reef is one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen. You’re going to go all the way to Australia and miss it because it’s just a little hot?
Me: I agree, the Great Barrier Reef is incredible, but my friend felt strongly that we shouldn’t go this time of year. Plus it’s 1500 miles from Sydney and I don’t know if we can budget another flight on this trip. We also have to spend at least 10 days of our trip working in Sydney, so it’s not like we have three full weeks to purely devote to traveling.
FM: But what’s in Byron Bay? Your friend said you should go there over the Great Barrier Reef? Are you sure you thought this through?
I’ll spare you the rest of the convo, but it was a lot more of the same thing over and over: we were making a huge mistake by not going to the Great Barrier Reef. I know that this family member was just wanted to make sure we’re seeing the very best things on our upcoming trip, but it really made me feel lousy nonetheless. And the silliest part about the whole thing is that I’ve already been to the Great Barrier Reef! Why did I feel so bad about missing a destination that I’ve already experienced?
So, how are we supposed to deal with travel-FOMO? Instead of worrying about missing out, below are a few things to consider instead:
1) Focus on the positives. Even though you won’t be able to see everything, think about all of the cool things you WILL experience on your upcoming trip and get excited about them instead.
2) Be realistic. Trips are expensive and vacation days are extremely limited. Do you really want to be broke and feel totally exhausted at the end? Sure, it’s possible to jam-pack your trips with a million things, but I personally want to feel good at the end and not like I hemorrhaged money and had zero time to relax.
3) Just nip it in the bud and tell the person who’s exacerbating your FOMO to cut it out. When my family member kept telling me about how my Australia itinerary was inadequate, I finally told her to please stop making me feel bad about it. I explained that our flights have already been booked and we weren’t going to change the plans we’ve already made, so please stop telling us that we were making a mistake.
4) Realize that time heals all FOMO. Eight years ago I remember being so disappointed that I went to Croatia and didn’t get to visit Dubrovnik. Two years ago people made me feel bad that we went to Vietnam for our honeymoon and didn’t go to Ha Long Bay. Hell, last month we went to Morocco and people were surprised that we didn’t visit Fez. At the time I definitely felt the FOMO, but you know what? I had great trips in Croatia, Vietnam, and Morocco anyway. Would they have been better if I went to Dubrovnik, Ha Long Bay, and Fez? Yeah, maybe. But who cares?
5) When all else fails, just tell yourself that you can always do_____ next time. I personally don’t believe in “once-in-a-lifetime trips” and sure, some destinations are further away and more expensive than others, but there’s no rule against returning to a destination that you really enjoyed.
6) When talking to others about their upcoming trips, remember the Golden Rule and do unto others as you would have others do unto you. Don’t be a FOMO-causer!
So we’re still figuring out some of the final details for our Australia trip, and despite Sunday’s negative conversation with that other family member, we’re still pretty pumped about it. After all, it’s our trip, not hers.