I land in Chicago. Next day I’m out with Jessica to check out downtown and Chinatown. The second day at the museum, we saw less than half of the things there and came out exhausted. The third day my bus out of town was at 6AM. I felt sorry I didn’t get to see the Art Museum or listen to a blues concert. “That’s okay, I’ll be back,” I told myself, while re-imagining my memorised itinerary, thinking how I will squeeze in some extra time in Chicago.
I went through the same disappointment again, and again. I heard amazing music in New Orleans, but I didn’t go in the swamps. I walked on the Haight Ashbury St. in San Francisco, where hippie minded people still dwell, but I didn’t spend enough time in Golden Gate Park. I went to Lake Tahoe but I had to skip Yosemite.
So that’s the hardest part I found so far: in all these amazing place I’m going through, there are things I wish I could see but I’m not going to. Foods I’m not going to try, routes I’ll never walk. Experiences I might never get. And that can be really frustrating and spoil the good experiences too.
And then, there are loads of things I would like to do and probably never will. I can’t give you examples of what these things might be as I still hope to do them.
But I am still in good spirits and enthusiastic about my trip. How did I deal with the so-sad-thinking-about-all-the things-I’m-missing part of travelling? During the first weeks, I was thinking “I wish I can stay more time here. I want to come back after I finish my itinerary”. After a while, I realised I won’t be able to do that and I had to come up with something else.
So here’s my strategy: plan to see one thing per day. There’s always more to see and there are always people telling “you have to eat this and climb in that tower and go shopping for frizzy souvenirs there” and so on. And then after you visit, you will meet the other people asking you: “Have you visited this awesome place and went for a concert there?” and you might have to give a disappointing no.
Is this strategy working so far? Sort of.
I’m still doing lists of what to visit but I circle only one thing (maybe two) and try to stick to that. Otherwise, It’s good to have backup options, in case you get extra time. The sky might be cloudy when you want to go see Jupiter or the art gallery might be closed for renovations.
Well, it’s time to finish with some melancholic music. Here’s some Don McLean classics for that autumn evening when you can hold a cup of something hot, watch the rain and think of all those things you didn’t do. Ask yourself which ones are really important for you. When the songs are over, grab a pen and start planning how to do them.