One of the unfortunate side effects of this research can be a healthy serving of Tourist Guilt. After reading a dozen guidebooks listing a thousand things to do and see it can be very hard to step away from the “must dos” and build the trip you want. Especially when you’re traveling with kids, cutting the “educational” and “deeply important” and “culturally significant” things that others deem vital can feel like sacrilege.
But the books are not the boss of you. This is your trip and it should feel like it. Your trip is not going to look like anyone else’s. Only you know what you want to do, only you know what your toddler will tolerate and what your teenager will adore. Plan YOUR trip. And don’t let guilt make you do things you don’t want to.
If your book lists three important museums to visit in London and you really just want to see plays and visit churches, see plays and visit churches. If your book (or this blog) insists that you need to spend 5 hours in the Forbidden City and you want to ride a paddle boat instead, do. Guilt-free. It’s your trip.
This is a hard mental transition to make. It took us many years to finally abandon the lurking guilt of all the “should dos” and follow our own plans. But from that moment on Hukilau Beach where we decided not to pull the kids out of the water and head to Pearl Harbor, we have been free.
And don’t get me wrong–Pearl Harbor is amazing. I love it. You should go. (See what I did there?) And we will. Next time. Probably. But on that day, at that time, our kids were happy on the beach and so were we. So we stayed. Because it was our vacation, and nobody else’s.
So be brave. Cut the shoulds that don’t bring you joy. Take your trip and nobody else’s.