Taking it slow versus Seeing things properly

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I heard this idea in the kitchen of our hostel, that you should “see Nice properly.” As in, see the sights of the town and get a feel of the place (I am making my own description, but it seems reasonable, right?) This is actually an admirable goal and sentiment. When there are so many packaged all-inclusive don’t-leave-the-resort trips on offer it is good to hear the encouragement to see the place you are in.

However  such a worthwhile traveler encouragement presents a bit of a dilemma for us though. How do we balance being travelers who see the world (and report back of what is out there on the blogs) and not burn ourselves to a crisp trying to do it all?

The Fear of Missing Something

Nice is a stopover for us. It is not a destination in itself. It certainly could be (it is a nice enough place from the little we have seen), but we are only here for two days. Not anywhere near long enough to “see” things in our way. And yet the urge to see stuff is so strong. How can we be in a place and not want to experience all it has to offer!?

It seems a sacrilege as a traveler to just pass through nearly ignoring a fascinating city. And yet that is nearly exactly what we need to be doing in Nice. To pack more “doing” and “going” into two days is just going to burn us out. We tried it yesterday after a nighttrain from Paris and it ended up badly.

This seems to come down to the fear of “missing something”. That we are so frightened to miss out on a sight. To hear the “so you were in X and didn’t see Y? Such a shame.” And yet, how terrible would this really be?

This is a long distance fun run, not a high stakes sprint to the finish.

Thinking Different, Acting Different

I have written about shifting my mindset from a vacation thought pattern to a more longer term traveler. I see this above question as a part of it. The way we want to travel is akin to a long distance runner not a sprint race. Not only is it not at all a race (competition) it is much more a long distance thing. To look ahead and realize that we need to conserve our strength to see the things we are actually excited about and be perfectly ok with letting other things pass us by (running metaphor too, score!).

This is not at all to say that the “sprint style” travel is bad or unworthy. It definitely can be. The sentiment from the first paragraph that you should take time to “really see” a place is totally worthwhile, especially in a beach town where the golden sand has such a draw. The fact that it IS a worthy sentiment is part of what makes it difficult to ignore. I agree with it, so I want to go “see things right” and yet I have to realize I have to do right by myself too.

How nice it would be if there was just a door to walk through to make changes.

Prioritize the Nothing

We are still noticing that we have planned this trip too tight and a bit too fast. Even a week in Brussels was not really enough time to see what we actually wanted to see and still get time to work as well as time together and pure downtime to let our heads recover from the rest. There is never enough time for everything, so there has to be priorities of course. The nothingness needs to be a big priority, I am learning. And yet because it is “nothing”, it is hard to grasp enough to prioritize. How can I sit and do Nothing when there is so much stuff to see? It feels wrong somehow.

We keep struggling with the urge to SEE and DO and EXPERIENCE, and in doing so pushing ourselves and letting the “nothingness” get de-prioritized by default. This is a shame and something we need to change. Yes, we still want to see things and we will, but we want to see what we are excited about not just what we “should” be seeing (Ali has a really good post on this concept here) in each place we happen to land. To let ourselves be different and see things at our own pace for our own reasons.

– – –

So for this day in Nice, I am happily “doing (almost) nothing”. This post is part of the “nothing” in the form of writing and non-travel-like downtime. And yet I still want to go up the Chateau hill in Nice to get some pictures, but in the good light late in the day after work has been done. I will resist the fear of “missing something” and realize that I don’t want to miss out on my projects that I am invested in either. This is a long distance fun run, not a high stakes sprint to the finish.

This rather aptly titled post that came across my stream has a similar idea (judge from the title whether it is safe for you to read): Do whatever you fucking want

10 thoughts on “Taking it slow versus Seeing things properly

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  2. For the better part of my traveler’s life I have been a slow, relaxed traveler. And I’m so much happier doing that!! It also helps to travel with people like that. I choose 1 thing I want to see, and then just let the other things happen, if they do. If not, I don’t stress. It’s better to just enjoy it while you’re there, rather than think of what else there is to see. “Mindful traveling, ” if you will 🙂

    • 1 thing as a MUST is a good idea. We have committed to being a place longer, but are still struggling with the ‘let the rest happen’ aspect. The extra time somehow screams to be filled and then we get exhausted. Just going to take some practice.

  3. You can never see everything, I tihnk a lot of people forget this. The way I see it is if someone says I shouldv’e visited a place or that i’ve really missed out, i just think to myself if it was that important to me I wouldv’e known about it.

    • Oh yes, even I forget this often enough. “Important” is relative from person to person based on interests too. What is important for me to see and do is not so interesting for others, which helps drive you to different places and to do different things.

  4. When people complain us that we are missing some important cities, we reply to them that the only real difference between cities is the amount of rats: some has more and some has less. The same goes with the sights. There has been way too many historical rock piles and fancy islands to excite us anymore. We travel for the people, not for places or sights.

    • I sometimes talk about travel as just doing laundry in different places. The mundane in a different city.
      The sights are indeed getting to blend together, mostly because the history is often left out. Like you say this gets them to all become just rock piles and buildings.

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  6. I’ve found that a key factor to my happiness while traveling is plenty of time to do nothing. We rushed all through South America and it made us miserable! Now, we take days (and sometimes whole weeks) to just focus on working, reading, and BEING. We don’t try to cram our schedule with sights to see because we know that after awhile it makes us unhappy. Keep doing nothing when you want to!

    • Yes, true. I like your latest post about sitting still to let happiness come to you. We definitely need to do more of that. Good to see that we aren’t odd in needing that. I actually think I need the work-time for its own sake as well. I like being productive and seeing myself create. Sight seeing is wonderful, but it is a consuming action, taking in sights. I like to see the production and the flow outward as well.

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