FOMO. YOLO. Pop culture has turned these acronyms into the greatest forms of peer pressure in history.
These common phrases coupled with the popularity of photo sharing on social media have turned my entire generation into sightseeing fanatics. We want the coolest vacation picture. We want to see every tourist site and go to the trendiest restaurants.
Call me crazy, but not only do I get inspired on vacation – but I also get tired. Don’t judge. Hear me out.
Simply put, there are so many new things to see and so many sites on my list that I sometimes need down time in order to embrace being a tourist to the fullest. I inherently experience sensory overload from the abundance of new sights, sounds, and smells at each destination.
Additionally, being constantly on the go clashes with my desire to dwell in one place if I feel inspired or captivated.
That said, I’m not saying that I factor in slack days in order to recharge (although I may recommend it in specific circumstances). Au contraire! I’m saying that I have accepted that I may need to make compromises within my itinerary if I’m going to experience truly meaningful travel.
Which leads me to introduce my new acronym to you, dear reader: TAOMO
It stands for “The Art of Missing Out.” TAOMO is the ability to say “no” to yourself while on vacation so you can savor parts of your adventure that you feel are enriching your soul the most.
At first it may feel unnerving. What if you never come back to this place!? You can’t afford to miss out on anything on your itinerary!
Take a deep breath, grasshopper.
Let’s use my experience of living in London as an example. When I resided in London for five months in 2009, I tried to hit up as many tourist attractions as I could afford on my small collegiate budget. However, it’s a HUGE city! Most tourists can’t see the whole thing in a full week! Plus, at the time, I was working a thirty-hour-per-week internship while also taking four classes. Therefore, when it came time for me to fly home after five months, I was shocked to realize I had not visited every place I wanted to see!
I never went to Tate Britain. I never stood on the Prime Meridian in Greenwich. I never took a photo while crossing Abbey Road. I never even went to Wimbledon despite being a life-long tennis player!
At first I was crushed. How could I not have prioritized seeing those last few sights when they felt so important to me!? But, when I started recounting the stories of my adventures to my family and friends at home, I realized that I had taken the time to embrace the true history and society of Britain. I had exercised TAOMO by prioritizing experiences that immersed me in British culture.
For example, on the same weekend that I toured the Tower of London, my friends and I also found a local pub in our neighborhood to call our own. I had also discovered a favorite fish and chips joint deep in the heart of Notting Hill. Further, I even started using quirky British phrases like “I couldn’t be bothered to go to the shop” in my daily speech! In essence, I had become a true Londoner during my time abroad – something I would not have accomplished if I had spent the entire time on the London Eye.
So, when I went back to London last summer for the first time in five years, I didn’t have a burning sense to cross the remaining attractions off my bucket list. Instead, I had developed an acceptance that the time I would spend soaking up London’s culture was far more valuable than having a photo in front of every monument.
That being said, I admit that I finally stood on the Prime Meridian last summer during my trip. However, I still have not been to Wimbledon. Or Tate Britain. But no FOMO here, folks! You can call it TAOMO, since I plan to go back to London again and again, and this gives me a reason to do just that!
Do you have any thoughts about TAOMO or experiences with it that you want to share? Please feel free to add them in the comments!