How To Not Miss Out On Anything While Traveling

I took a risk with the title of this post. It’s almost clickbait. Let me set your expectations now—it’s impossible to see it all. Do it all. Experience it all. But we found a change of mindset helpful to prevent angst over “missing out”.

Our First Year

We were probably like most families fresh to the road.

We had big expectations.

Along with us in the RV was a wall map we had kept pinned up in dining room of our house for 9 months before we launched. It was marked up with destinations that we all wanted to see:

  • Yosemite National Park
  • The Painted Desert
  • New Orleans
  • Boston
  • The Baseball Hall of Fame
  • The Outer Banks
  • Seattle Troll
  • Mt. Rushmore
  • Grand Canyon
  • Yellowstone National Park

In our hearts we knew that we wouldn’t be able to see everything. But that didn’t stop us from hoping somehow we’d be able to fit it all in.

Reality Sets In

Our first taste of reality struck in upstate New York in October.

We had made it to the Baseball Hall of Fame, but struggled to route-plan any further north or east.

Campgrounds were closing.

It seemed early to us. The weather was still tolerable. It wasn’t an early freeze that year.

No matter. Many RV parks have a schedule and stick to it regardless of the weather.

Boston was off the list.

No Boston?

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That means no Puritan or Colonial history. No Tea Party. No Boston Massacre.

No baked beans.

This was supposed to be a homeschooling adventure and we had just lopped off a significant part of American History. We felt like failures. We pointed the truck south to find warmer weather and campgrounds that stayed open later in the year.

NOLA

It happened again in New Orleans.

New Orleans was my pin on the paper map. I’ve been a fan of Dixie-style Jazz music for years. I’d listen to the New Orleans public radio station online and pretend I was there. I wanted to hear it live.

Mardi Gras was ramping up.

For all of my love of New Orleans music I knew little about Mardi Gras. What I did know came from conservative West Michiganders. They painted a bleak picture of an entire town turned out for one large boisterous parade filled with public nudity and drinking.

Not something we wanted to take our kids to.

Then there was the weather. Rainy and highs in the 30’s.

We tried to wait out the weather. We found other places to visit.

We couldn’t wait forever. We were on the way to Texas to visit my parents. My mom was in chemo. Our visit had to coincide with a break between treatments.

We ran out of time.

Again, feeling like traveling failures we got back on the road. We passed all of the New Orleans exits while heading for Texas.

A New Realization

It was during this drive that we realized something.

New Orleans wasn’t going anywhere.

We could come back.

We were still “A family of four on the road for a year” - so I didn’t know exactly when or how. But I knew that we would. Maybe with the kids. Maybe when it was just MsBoyink and I.

We hadn’t “missed it”.

We had “left it for a future visit.”

Say It Again!

The way you don’t “miss” anything while traveling fulltime is by changing your mindset. And your expectations.

You don’t miss anything. You leave it for a future visit.

Consider this: you’ll pass this way again.

How sad would it be to see the signs for a really cool place and think “Oh, no reason to stop there. We’ve seen everything there is to see.”

Leave something for a future visit. You’ll be able to have a fresh experience in a location you are already familiar with.

Things We Have Left

We’ve been on the road over 6 years now. We’ve been to 42 states. Countless miles. Hundreds of locations.

And yet.

There are many places we’ve been close to but had to leave for a future visit:

  • Big Bend National Park
  • Bryce National Park
  • Zion National Park
  • Joshua Tree National Park
  • The Missions in San Antonio
  • Fords Theater in Washington, DC
  • Theodore Roosevelt Island in Washington, DC
  • The Sandhills of Nebraska

Sometimes when we mention these places in a conversation people react with disbelief. 6 years on the road and you haven’t been there? What have you been doing?

Recipe for Stress

We’ve simply learned that having a long list of “must-see” places is a recipe for stress. We choose to opt out of that stress, and instead look at our travels through a long-range lens.

We haven’t missed any of those places.

We’ve just left them for a future visit.

What Have You Left?

Confession time - and we’re all friends here. No shame. No judgment.

What places have you left for a future visit on your travels?

Oh - and New Orleans?

We did make it back. A few times.

But we still haven’t seen all of it.

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8 Comments How To Not Miss Out On Anything While Traveling

  1. Picture of SarahSarahJanuary 18, 2017

    Great post and perfectly timed for us.  We are about 6 months into a 12-18 month road trip around Europe in our caravan with two children (8 & 10) and we are constantly bumping into people who say ‘have you been to x?’ or ‘oh, you MUST go to y!’ and the problem is that you just CAN’T see it all, even with an extended trip.  But you’re right, at first we really did feel that we were missing out if we didn’t go to one of these great places.
    Added to which, we have to find time for schooling, and we also want to just spend time together as a family, without the pressure of trying to get around to all the amazing places there are to see. 
    So, I am going to try telling myself that we are just leaving it for another time and maybe I’ll stop beating myself up about it! 
    Thank you!

  2. Picture of Michael BoyinkMichael BoyinkJanuary 19, 2017

    Thanks Sarah - you bring up a good point.

    Exploration is just one part of a traveling family’s week. You have to allow downtime for school or just hanging out as well!

  3. Picture of Al SpencerAl SpencerJanuary 19, 2017

    A friend of mine tells me don’t try to see it all the first time,missing some thing will give you the desire to go back

  4. Picture of Joel K.Joel K.January 21, 2017

    Interesting perspective! As a small rebuttle, I’d encourage anyone who reads this not to let this sort of mentality to let you get lazy, ‘cause there will be places that you never make it back to - simple fact. So if you have to leave a place without seeing everything that you wanted to see, go ahead and start thinking about when you’ll return, because if you just say, ‘oh, we’ll be back someday,’ chances are, you’ll forget about it. And you may really regret that.

    On all other notes, though, great post!

  5. Picture of Liz @ lizwilcoxLiz @ lizwilcoxJanuary 21, 2017

    What a good point! We are going to be full-timing, but not until 2018 so we have SO much time to plan. I think keeping this in mind will help us “calm down” with planning and let life happen a little more. We don’t know how long we will be on the road, so this will be a good mindset for us to have.
    Also, I grew up in western Michigan so I had a good laugh about the NOLA bit. I moved to the Florida Panhandle when I was a teen and finally visited NOLA and boy, oh boy…

  6. Picture of Michael BoyinkMichael BoyinkJanuary 22, 2017

    Thanks for the comment Liz - fulltime travel is an odd balance of life and adventure. It seems like we’re always over-compensating one way or the other.

  7. Picture of Clark SwanClark SwanJanuary 22, 2017

    Wow, had an epiphany about downsizing—starting to look for a 5th wheel and found you by google, by golly.  Thank you—hope to learn alot.

    Best regards,

    clark

  8. Picture of Michael BoyinkMichael BoyinkJanuary 23, 2017

    Thanks Clark - let us know if you have any questions.

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