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F*ck The Temples – Let’s Surf: How We Ignore Travel Guilt & Why You Should Too

by Tony · 32 comments

Travel guilt should be ignored

It is our second full day in Bali.

Lunch is finished, some milkshakes had just been gulped, and we’re starting in on our afternoon beers while looking out over the 8 foot waves breaking in the Bali surf.

“What do you want to do tomorrow?” Meg asked.

I hesitated a moment before answering. “That taxi driver mentioned some cool temples about 40 minutes away. We could check those out?”

We each sipped on a beer and let that idea sink in.

“Or…” Meg haltingly said. “We could try surfing again. We did just get lessons and it seems like a waste to not put them to full use.”

After another sip on our beers, we looked each other in the eyes and came to the same conclusion.

“F*ck the temples. Let’s surf.”

Where Does Travel Guilt Come From?

Travel guilt whispering in the back of your mind

There is a tiny whisper of guilt that begins to eat at you after a long time on the road. You have done a lot, seen a lot, and have shifting priorities.

Those amazing cathedrals in Europe don’t seem quite as amazing after you’ve been to 15 of them.

The temples in Asia don’t seem quite as exotic after you’ve visited a few and dealt with the throngs of tourists and vendors.

But there is still that little annoying voice in the back of your head that says you are not taking full advantage of the incredible journey you are on.

Have you ever given in to that scratchy little voice of guilt?

Well… we say F*ck that voice too.

We started this unconventional year of living and traveling because we wanted to try new things.

We wanted to spend more than just our weekends together.

We wanted to be happy.

Just because visiting famous tourist sites, cathedrals, and temples is what is expected of a traveler, doesn’t mean that is what you have to do.

Quitting our jobs to travel for a year was already pretty unconventional. No sense in following the crowd now.

So if we find happiness out in the waves of Bali instead of the temples, so be it.

We travel on our terms and forget the travel guilt.

F*ck the Temples. It’s time to carve up some waves, brah.

Your Turn: Are we crazy/ignorant for skipping some of the famous sights? Do you ever feel travel guilt when on the road and if you do, are you able to ignore it?

About Tony
Quit his job to try actually following his dreams for once... and is currently loving it. He is working hard to to make this life-style permanent by writing about his adventures and brainstorming money making opportunities with his partner-in-crime, Meg.

Caroline @ Traveling 9 to 5 October 4, 2012 at 9:56 am

We always have travelers guilt.. and almost always say F*ck it in the end. We feel like people are going to say .. “How could you go to ____ and not see ____” But this is our year for us to design..!

Also, you need to practice surfing so you don’t get ‘showed up’ in Hawaii!

Tony October 4, 2012 at 10:25 am

Our biggest miss might have been Iguazu Falls… but it was a 20 hr bus trip in the wrong direction for us! Like you said… it’s our year to design!

Meg might be some good competition for you two… but I consider it a victory if my nose doesn’t crash into the board on a surf attempt.

Bethany ~ twoOregonians October 4, 2012 at 11:49 am

I’m learning to love myself even when I choose 20 baht smoothie runs over visits to another wat. 😉

Tony October 5, 2012 at 5:41 am

We love you especially when you choose smoothies over visits to another wat… Say Wattt?

Megan October 5, 2012 at 7:45 am

dont feel travel guilt! i would choose surfing anyday over a temple (aghhh did i just say that!?) and youre exactly right…you can only look at SO many temples before you get templed out. the way i see it is if you do temple after temple in every country you will return to the US one day and tell people you saw 100 temples. OR you could tell them you saw temples, surfed, drank good beer, took a boat ride, went skydiving, etc. the latter sounds so much cooler and will help yall define a place on what you did there because it was unique to the other places.

Tony October 5, 2012 at 8:23 am

Amen, Megan! When are we finally going to all hangout? You just get us so well!

The moment we don’t look forward to doing something on our trip (or really in our life) we should think hard about why we are even doing it.

We can definitely tell people we drank good beer… A LOT of good beer :)

Erica Carson October 5, 2012 at 8:12 am

Whatever floats your boat bebe … it is YOUR time and YOUR money, YOUR life —– you have earned the right to do whatever pleases you, nevermind what anyone else thinks you should do !!!

Tony October 5, 2012 at 8:28 am

Sometimes we hear those guilty whispers… but it sure helps having a committed Partner in crime. The minute I start to doubt what we’re doing Meg is there to back me up.

Thanks for the support!

Barb October 5, 2012 at 12:46 pm

The surf boards will be waiting for you in Kauai. Hanalei Bay beckons for the Rullis to “hang 10”.

Tony October 7, 2012 at 4:01 am

OHHHHH Barb! We will be hanging 10, 20, AND 30!

Cannot wait! We’re getting so close now!

Alouise October 5, 2012 at 8:15 pm

Isn’t it weird how this sort of self-imposed guilt can set in, even when you travel? I’ve never done a big trip, but even just take short one week breaks I still get this guilt. As long as you’re not doing anything illegal, harmful or directly disrespectful to the place/people you’re visiting then you shouldn’t feel guilty about anything. It’s your trip and your life so travel and live how you want.

Tony October 7, 2012 at 4:05 am

So true… even on one week vacations you feel like you have to cram in everything or your failing. Usually the best trips i’ve gone on are the ones where I only have 2-3 “must-sees” and let everything else be a surprise.

Self imposed guilt is the worst! Definitely helps traveling with someone though. Meg always snaps me out of any impending attacks of travel guilt :)

Melody October 6, 2012 at 8:01 am

I’ve definitely been in your shoes before. Sometimes, I just want to chill rather than trying to cram all the “sights” in. I lived in Argentina for 3 months because I wanted to get a feel for living in another country and sometimes feel like I “missed out” on some things by not seeing everything I could. But I did get a feel for living in another country, not just “passing through.”

Tony October 7, 2012 at 4:07 am

We love staying in one place for a long period of time. It has definitely become our preferred way to travel.

Where did you live in Argentina?

We loved BA and traveled some in Patagonia and we loved all of it. So jealous you were in the country for 3 whole months!

Melody October 8, 2012 at 1:57 pm

Yes, Argentina is definitely one of my favorite countries! I lived in Córdoba between travelling of course :) Beautiful architecture, culture, people food, nightlife – everything!! I loved SA in general!

Kristine October 8, 2012 at 1:47 am

Ugh I ALWAYS feel guilty!! I think the worst was missing out on walking the walls of Dubrovnik at sunset…so I could take a nap. But I don’t think I would have fully appreciated it if I had forced myself to do it while exhausted and miserable. Just gives me an excuse to go back there though.

I think it’s best to do the trip on your terms. I hope you guys kicked ass at surfing!!

Tony October 8, 2012 at 4:40 am

AMAZING! hahaha I’m not even ashamed to admit this, but we have missed more then our share of tourist destinations due to a nap… what can you do?

But your point is dead on. How much do we really enjoy going to things that we are only doing out of sense of obligation? Might as well just go next time… it’s great motivation to save up for another trip!

Love the name “Adultescence” by the way… Exactly how we feel! You should buy the URL if it is available and you haven’t already. So good!

Thanks, Kristine!

Dave from acoupletravelers October 8, 2012 at 7:57 pm

Been to my fair share of temples already and we only just started. If I had just taken surfing lessons, I’d put them to use – no need to feel guilty!

Tony October 10, 2012 at 4:05 am

We were super gung ho the first few months of our trip… part of the reason why South America ended up costing so much!

Now that we are in the final months, sitting beach side and drinking a beer just seems so much more appealing than visiting another tourist site… we need to recharge our batteries!

Amanda @ Farsickness October 10, 2012 at 3:58 am

Ahhh, thank you. This is something I need to remember. I was in Japan last week for a few days and even when I spent hours rushing around to different sites, I still felt guilty. Was I spending enough time somewhere? Did I see enough? But I missed that one place…

It’s too easy to get caught up in the guilt and forget to enjoy yourself. And you’re right, traveling is about doing what you want and making yourself happy.

Tony October 10, 2012 at 4:07 am

If you ever want to feel better about missing stuff… just look to us. We missed out on Iguazu when we were in Argentina, Florence when in Tuscany, and so many other huge places.

We like adding all of those places to our list for our next big RTW trip… helps having dreams!

Colette November 2, 2012 at 9:12 pm

After having every single traveler we met in Flores Guatemala open the conversation with “Have you been to Tikal? No? So when are you going?”, we figured F*ck Tikal, we won’t go. There was so much more in the area to discover – we found other amazing Mayan sites instead and because they weren’t the big one we had those magical places all to ourselves. We spent days sitting on the edge of the lake and just talking to locals. Those were the moments where we were truly happy in our travels – not when we were standing in line or wrestling the crowds. That’s what travel is about for us – space to enjoy life and be happy. Thanks for sharing your side of that story too!

Tony November 3, 2012 at 2:12 am

So true!

If we start telling stories about our travels, it is never the tourist sites that everyone said we had to see that are mentioned. Even when we talk about Machu Picchu, we talk more about the crazy time we had with new friends actually hiking and camping then the half a day we actually spent at the site.

Amber February 7, 2013 at 8:08 am

I just found your blog and love it. My husband and I have been on a RTW trip for over three months and have the feeling often that maybe we’re missing out on the must do’s. your post was well written. People who quit their jobs aren’t looking for the site seeing vacation. Chilling out, being happy and bei a part of local cultures is where it’s at. then lifelong memories and emotions from it all. I see you’re trip is ending. What are your plans now for when you return?

Tony February 7, 2013 at 8:42 am

Thanks, Amber!

It can be hard to ignore that little voice in the back of your head that says you aren’t seeing enough…

But then you have the perfect day at a Buenos Aires cafe doing nothing but reading, drinking coffee, and working online. Those are the moments i’ll remember!

We just finished 2 months with Meg’s parents in their new home in Hawaii and just got back to the east coast this morning… just in time for a big snow storm! No idea what the future has in store for us, but we definitely will forever have the travel bug!

Love that Steinbeck quote on your site by the way… so true!

Amber February 7, 2013 at 8:53 am

Where in the east coast do you live? We live in Frederick, MD by DC. Hold on to your dreams, continue to travel and just don’t ever settle. Things you probably already know from your travels. I’m sad to have just found your blog now! It’s really good and entertaining:)

Tony February 11, 2013 at 11:44 am

We are staying with my folks in Boston now, but looking to move out west. We don’t have an apt or anything now as we got rid of it all when we left for our trip last year!

Thanks for the encouragement… we need it!

Geraldine April 8, 2017 at 3:14 am

Hey, Claire, your comment on Facebook did transfer to the blog! Yippie! There are still a few bugs, but this is a start. Hofupelly, this one will flow back to Facebook.

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