I’m currently in London, one of the most incredible cities in the world with no shortage of sights and attractions. What did I do my first week here? I went straight to the Tower Bridge and St. Paul’s Cathedral, both of which I’ve already seen and photographed multiple times five years ago. I spent a whole lot of time sitting in coffee shops, writing and editing and searching for that elusive perfect cup of London coffee. I hardly ate out at all, opting instead to grocery shop and prepare my own meals. I did all the things I already knew I loved; I found comfort in the familiar.
I know I have anti-tourist tendencies, but I can’t help but wonder if I’m doing London right. Or if I’m TRAVELING right. Shouldn’t I be pub hopping, checking out any of the city’s free museums, or riding a double decker bus around town? Why did I opt to revisit sights I’d already seen five years ago, and do things that I could just as easily be doing back home?
Then I thought about how my recent trip to London is only one of countless examples of my recurring preference to stick to what I know and love rather than try new things. I’d give up a limb to go back to Australia and Italy, two countries I’ve already traveled extensively, while there are hundreds of other countries I haven’t been to just begging to be explored. Similarly, I’ve got my go-to dishes at my favorite restaurants back home in NYC: the blueberry-maple pancakes at Clinton St. Baking Co., the guacamole at Bogota, the arepas at Caracas. Despite how delicious every single other item on these menus sounds, I always come back to my favorites.
Case in point: Right this second, I’m about to order my second coffee at Federation Coffee. The first one was the most incredible flat white I’ve had outside of Australia. Do I order a second flat white and take another hit of caffeinated bliss – or sample their take on my normal go-to drink, the americano?
This is a constant struggle I have while traveling. Do I stick to what I know and love, or seek out new experiences? It’s a delicate balance I’m constantly working on. I don’t want to miss out on things that could potentially make me even happier than my current favorites, but at the same time it’d be silly not to go with guaranteed happiness.
The fact is, traveling is a taxing endeavor. When you’ve already exhausted yourself just getting from A to B or sorting out your accommodation, sometimes you just want that mindless guarantee of pleasure. So you know what? I’ve just backpacked around Asia for the past 5 months – if I want to take a week off to relax and revisit some of my favorite sights in London, then I’m gonna roll with it without any guilt.
The bottom line is that I do what I want, when I want. Sometimes I want what’s tried and true, against my reasoning to be more adventurous. And other times, I go out of my way to throw myself into unfamiliar territory. It’s all about maintaining the right balance between comfort and adventure. The important thing is to listen to your gut and do what makes you happy, rather than force yourself to do what you think you SHOULD be doing. And if you’ve been comfortable for a liiiiiiiiittle too long, evaluate your current situation and see if there are new adventures to be had that could bring you even more happiness.
On that note, I ended up ordering the americano, and I think I’m about ready to take my hyper-caffeinated self on some adventures. London calling!