I was already living abroad when saying things like YOLO and FOMO started becoming popular so I only learned them when I was taught them by other travelers from back home. However, this feeling of fear when it comes to missing out is something that we all experience, especially when we are visiting a new place. And dealing with these feelings is extremely important if you are going to feel like your time spent abroad was successful simply because you will not be able to do everything.
Even if it is not easy, like everything else in your life, you are going to have to make choices of what you want to do and what will have to wait for next time. And, sometimes, you might even have to choose between two once-in-a-lifetime opportunities. Here are our top four tips for how to deal with this feeling while you are traveling or living abroad:
1.) Choose what is important
This might be something that you do before you go—like you want to visit a certain number of countries or a couple of specific cities—, or it might be something that you decide along the way. Either way, knowing what is important to you will help you be able to choose what activities and adventures you want to participate in and which ones you can pass on. At the same time, it is not always easy to know what is important to you. For example, Dani often talks about how she invested a lot of time and energy in making her host-town home and not traveling as much but that isn’t an easy decision to make when everyone else is visiting somewhere new every weekend.
Therefore, consider what is important to you before you leave but try to be open to how those feelings can change during your journey. Sometimes we start off with one idea in mind and end up in a totally different place or with a completely different mission. Like many quotes say, “It is not the end that’s important, it’s the journey.” And that brings me to my second point…
2.) Enjoy what feels right
Sometimes making a list works just fine but, more often than not, I feel that listening to myself I can usually decide what I really want. It is like if you have to make a choice between two options and you decide to flip a coin—normally you know exactly which result you want to get while the coin is in the air. Dealing with FOMO for me is a bit like that; if I know that I am going to really want it, I will go for it. If I figure I can take it or leave it, I will most likely factor in other variables such as how much time, money, and energy I have left for it.
At the same time, getting to a point where you trust yourself to make decisions that will make you happy long-term isn’t always easy either. However, when I manage to choose what I do this way it almost feels like my whole body is lighting up and I feel a sort of inexplicable sense of joy. Sometimes it is small things, like having an ice cream, or big things, like moving to another country where I don’t know anyone, but when you follow this feeling you are most likely making the right decision for you. This is really important because you should be living your own life and be able to…
3.) Say no when it doesn’t fit what you are looking for
This one is really (really) hard because sometimes it is so easy to say yes to everything—especially if you are abroad for a short period of time. However, no matter how hard you try, you will never be able to do everything! Therefore, when you try something that doesn’t end up being your favorite thing, don’t feel pressure to continue or to keep doing more of the same. For example, weekend travel is really tiring (read more about how to do it right here), and while you might want to go somewhere new several times a month, you also might not want to go somewhere every week and that is OKAY!
Saying no to things doesn’t (necessarily) mean that you are turning them away for the future, it just means that in the here-and-now you don’t want them in your life. This also means that you are making room for the stuff that you want more of and that you are able to dedicate the time and energy that is needed to make sure those things turn out well. And this takes me to my last tip…
4.) Take time for yourself (you will be tired)
Living in another country isn’t easy and doing everything in another language complicates life. However, making time and space for yourself to cool down and relax is a way of making sure you are able to take advantage of the opportunities that are important to you. Remember, the way you rest will probably be different than everyone else’s. While Dani likes to escape to the beach, I am quite happy sitting in my room all day reading a book and eating chocolate. We are all different and our way to disconnect is too.
And keep in mind that, at the end of the day what you choose to do is the right choice—most simply because it is what you ended up doing. Therefore, make sure you enjoy all the opportunities that come your way and take advantage of how you spend your time (even if it means resting).
How do you deal with FOMO while abroad?
Do these tips help?