I know, the title is pretty controversial for a travel blog, but hear me out.
Sometimes, you have to turn down travel. Money, time, energy, health and simply not wanting to go are all reasons I’ve said no to travel opportunities before.
It’s easier to say no when there’s a physical issue. If you broke your pelvis, you wouldn’t feel guilty about skipping a bike tour of France. If you have $3.75 in the bank, you wouldn’t book that flight to Norway. If you used up all of your holiday leave, you can’t spend three weeks in Thailand.
It’s harder when the issue is internal.
Saying No to Travel
As much as I’ve said yes to travel, I’ve also said no a lot.
A surprising amount really.
I need a lot of down time to relax after working or studying. Sleep is incredibly important for me to function, so I can’t handle red-eye flights to do weekend trips. I thrive on a routine that gets totally thrown off when I travel.
And sometimes I just don’t want to go.
Not wanting to travel is a weird feeling for someone who loves to travel. But it happens.
It’s like someone who loves ice cream not wanting ice cream every moment of the day.
Travel is a wonderful passion of mine, but it’s not my whole life. There are other aspects that make it hard to want to travel sometimes.
Saying No in Glasgow
I turned down a lot of opportunities to travel a during my study abroad in Glasgow. I spent 5 months in the city, but only took 1 flight outside of Scotland. I did a day trip to Edinburgh, 2 trips to the Highlands and flew to Amsterdam for a difficult trip.
Why didn’t I travel more when I had access to insanely cheap Ryanair flights and three-day weekends?
Because I didn’t want to.
I struggled with that for a long time – the fact that I didn’t want to travel. It’s not because I was out exploring Glasgow or busy with friends. I wasn’t even that bogged down in school work.
But I wasn’t in a place to want to travel.
Glasgow was cold and damp and sad. And I was cold and damp and sad.
It didn’t help that people would call me asking how many weekend trips I booked or how many countries I had checked off. That just added pressure to do something I didn’t feel like doing.
It made me feel like I was failing as a travel-lover.
Turning Down Travel
It’s only been since I got to New Zealand that I’ve started to accept the reasons I didn’t want to travel back in Glasgow.
During my 8-months in Europe last year, I started thinking about Glasgow a lot. I was doing exactly what I’d hoped to do when I went to Glasgow: seeing as much of Europe as I possibly could.
That brought back the regret.
The guilt festered for nearly a year, until I got to New Zealand.
The First Step
The first step in accepting that it’s ok to turn down travel opportunities came when I decided not to go to Bali or Fiji or Hawaii or any number of other places I’d potentially intended to add onto my trip to New Zealand.
Why would I go there when I could spend more time in New Zealand, a country I was quickly falling in love with?
I realized that it’s ok to choose to stay put when it’s what makes you happy. Besides, I was going to spend the time and money I would have used in Vanuatu or Java to see more of New Zealand than I otherwise would have had time to.
It was sort of a trade: no to one option to say yes to another. And the one I was saying yes to excited me more.
The Second Step
That didn’t fully make up for Glasgow, though. Because I wasn’t happier with my choice to not travel.
There was no trade.
I had just said no.
What helped me accept that was turning down the opportunity to go to Russia with my baba (my grandmother).
She – along with my cousins, my aunt and my uncle – are headed to Russia in August.
The trip planning started back in January.
The moment I heard about the trip, my ears perked up. Travel? Russia? Once-in-a-lifetime-experience? Yes, please!
But, as the weeks went past, I started changing my mind.
Admittedly, the timing wouldn’t have worked. And I would have had to fly from New Zealand which looked like a nightmare to sort out.
Saying no still felt nearly impossible. I didn’t want to disappoint my family. I didn’t want to miss out on Russia. I didn’t want to say no.
But I did.
Needing to Say No
I said no to travelling to Russia because it wasn’t the right fit.
There were physical issues and emotional ones.
It would have been really challenging to travel with so many people who all have their own wants and needs when I’m so used to travelling by myself. My need for organization in a group of strong-willed adults would have inevitably ended in chaos. And I would have taken over planning the entire trip, which would have been far too much for me to do.
It was the right choice because I need to take care of myself.
Which is exactly what I was doing in Glasgow.
Back then, I was struggling with so much mentally that I didn’t have the energy to take on travel. The few trips I did left me so drained I could barely get out of bed the next week (…that may also have been the insanely dark and damp winter weather).
Travelling every weekend or exploring all of Glasgow’s haunts during the week weren’t realistic options.
Instead, I said yes to taking care of myself and doing what would make me happier in the long run (even if I didn’t realize it at the time).
Accepting Saying No to Travel
I’m getting more comfortable saying no to travel opportunities now.
I turned down a trip to Fiji with a friend because I knew it’d be too hectic with the work travel I had to do that week. I said no to a stopover in L.A. or San Francisco on my way home because it would add unnecessary stress. And I opted out of going back to the South Island because I want to make the most of my last few weekends with my Auckland friends.
I made those choices for a variety of reasons, but I’ve accepted all of them.
Being ok with my own choice and not beating myself up for it feels good.
It doesn’t make me any less of a travel-lover or world wanderer. In fact, it makes me a better traveller. I’m able to choose to travel and really soak up the opportunities.
I don’t waste experiences by travelling when I don’t want to, which would undoubtedly colour my trips. Why would I want that?
Learning to say “no” to travel has been a huge change, but it’s one for the better.