Typically our first reaction upon booking a trip is to search Pinterest and Instagram and Google for pictures and information about our destination. But here’s my suggestion. STOP! Put down the laptop. Quit reading and find out for yourself or risk tainting your experience.
In travel, like life, gathering information is a great idea but too much information is a lot like consulting WebMD. It starts out innocently, as a way to know more, but the next thing you know, you’re in total freak out mode, wondering, not if things will go sour, but when. WebMD has never made me feel better about whatever ailment I had and sometimes reading too much info on a destination does the same thing.
Case in point: I received an email some time back from a gal moving to the Dominican Republic from the West Coast. She wrote, “…I was excited. Now I’m scared because it’s a third world country and I’m reading all this negative stuff… and… HELP!”
She drank the WebMD Travel kool-aid and any excitement she had about moving here was quickly drained. And she isn’t the only one. When we were going to move here, everyone I spoke to made sure to mention just how dangerous Santo Domingo was. Definitely don’t drive at night. And if you have to drive at night, like for an emergency, don’t stop at any red lights. In fact, avoid going out at night altogether. Stay home. Lock your doors. It’s no wonder that when we did actually get here, I was straight up scared. I watched Husband from our barred windows every night he walked the dogs and I gripped my keys in between my fingers, ready to scratch some poor soul’s face off.
Nothing ever happened.
Now I’m not saying something can’t happen. My point is simply that I spent my first few months here in absolute terror based on other people’s stories. And I imagine some of their stories came from someone else’s stories who got their stories from yet someone else too. I had a compilation of fear stories and who knows who’s experience I was actually getting. Anyone but mine, that’s for sure.
Just like you’d never know how stinkin’ delicious bacon is by someone telling you about it, you’d never know the trueness of a place until you go. You won’t get the real experience by talking to someone and you sure won’t get it from reading about it.
The travel version of WebMD is very much the same as the original Web MD: if you don’t know what you’re dealing with it can be scary, but often times, that won’t be your experience. What you read isn’t at all what you have so don’t get spooked – ahead of time – by the unknown. Find out for yourself.
Each experience is an individual one. Don’t let someone else’s symptoms influence you before you’ve had your own chance to live through it.
Have you ever been freaked out about a place because of what other people said about it?
A version of this post was previously written on Expat Village.
Feature image via Simon Cocks