The Best Piece of Travel Advice I Ever Heard

Date: 2017-08-18 09:47:31

It was the middle of August in Chiang Mai, and the rainy season was well and truly living up to its name. I was staying in a nice hostel, parked on a stool in the communal area downstairs, staring out into the downpour.

A recently-made friend was sitting next to me. He’d been travelling for longer than me; around eight months at that point. It was the morning. I was lamenting the weather, and trying to decide what to do with the day. Should I go to the revered Wat Phra Singh? Should I go to the famous Chiang Mai Zoo? Should I head up the mountain of Doi Suthep, and hope the rain cleared so I could enjoy the spectacular view?

As I reeled off my options, a panic grew inside of me. What if the rain caused me to waste an entire day of my short time in Chiang Mai? I broke off my rambling and looked glumly into the greyness. My new friend turned to me, a smile on his face. “There are no wrong answers,” he said simply. “Do whatever you want to do.”

There are no wrong answers. What a great piece of advice that was. From that point forward, wherever I’ve been on my travels, I’ve kept that line in my head. When arriving in a new place – especially such a famous destination as Chiang Mai – the sheer number of options can be overwhelming. You feel like you have to do something, all the time!

Sometimes, however, you just have to listen to your own mind, and your own body. Sometimes, you actually really want to do something that isn’t touristic; go to the cinema, say, or have a McDonald’s instead of trying the local cuisine. And that’s OK. Listen to what you actually want to do, and just do it. Nobody is judging you. Nobody is evaluating whether or not you’re traveling the right way. There are no wrong answers. Do whatever you want to do.

So, what did I do in the end? Absolutely nothing. I went straight back to bed, and took a glorious nap. That was what I really wanted to do. And you know what? I didn’t regret it for a second.