Change Yourself…Change The World.

The Problem with Traveling
September 17, 2009, 6:57 pm
Filed under: Costa Rica, Panama, Travel Tip

Is that there is only a certain amount of time you have to be in one place, and SO many things to choose from.

I am going to Panama for four days this weekend. I am very, very excited, because I have never been to Panama before, and who knows whether I’ll ever have such an experience again? This is how I go into traveling- ‘I may never have this experience again.’ The anticipation of being in a country for only four days makes me feel very rushed. I’ve been poring over Lonely Planet Central America on a Shoestring; Panama section.

I first planned this ridiculous itinerary that was somewhat affordable for my price range. I get into Panama at 10:50 AM tomorrow. Then I will run over to Casco Viejo to check out the old part of Panama, catch this crazy bus to the Mireflores Locks to see Panama Canal, and end the day in Mi Pueblitos, a kind of old town of Panama that sells indigenous crafts, food, and has dance performances. After that I would take an overnight bus to David, Panama’s second largest city (and for those of you that take overnight buses, you know I won’t be getting a lot of sleep). Then I would arrive in David at 3 AM (ouch, sketchy), and take an hour long bus at 6 AM to Boquete, this amazingly beautiful village (from what Lonely Planet describes at least…and let’s be honest here, can we REALLY trust Lonely Planet?) that has gorgeous views and lots of places to hike around. Then the next morning I would take a four hour bus to Bocas Del Toro, the ‘party’ place of Panama where apparently all of the gorgeous beaches in Panama are. I would hang out there for a day and half, finally taking an overnight bus back to Costa Rica.

First off, that entire itinerary sounds mouth-wateringly amazing. Here is the problem. A) There is no way that I can feasibly accomplish all of this and enjoy it at the same time, B) there are ALWAYS going to be problems that will pop up- my flight will be delayed and I won’t have time to see the parts of Panama City I really wanted to, the overnight bus to David will break down in the middle of nowhere (yes, this happened to me in India), Boquete is apparently cold at night and I will freeze with the small amount of clothes I have to take, etc. Will I see a lot of sights of Panama? Yes. Will I take lots of beautiful amazing pictures that look like I’m having the time of my life? Yes. Will I actually get to ENJOY being in the country? No. I will be majorly tired from driving around to a million places.

So, I decided to scratch the itinerary and just kick it in Panama City for the weekend. There’s a million things to do there, a million things to check out, and I feel that I need to give it at LEAST three day’s justice to see everything that I want. That gives me enough leisure time to actually get even a moment’s glimpse of what the life is like there, instead of always on the road.

This is the choice that I made. I wish that I had two, or three weeks to check out Panama. I wish I had a few days to check out Panama City, then I could leisurely make my way to David- then Boquete- then Bocas del Toro- and then even get to visit the indigenous Kuna islands in the south. But I have four days. And I am going to make the most of four days, even if that means just hanging out in Panama City.

In my opinion, this is the problem with traveling. When I was backpacking through Europe, I went to Switzerland for about four days. I totally panicked- ‘this could be my ONLY time in Switzerland, I have to see EVERYTHING, I have to check out Interlaken and Bern and Laussane and head over to Zurich-‘ well guess what. It was my worst travel experience. I was trying to experience everything SO much, that I completely tired myself out and just ended up kind of passing out in my hostel room for most of the time that I was there. My iPod got stolen on the train. I felt homesick. I don’t want to have that kind of experience again.

I am going to be traveling around South America for six weeks, and I am having the same problem. I want to visit EVERY country on the continent. I know that this isn’t feasible at all. I’ve cut it down four countries. I’m sad that I won’t get to check out Bolivia, or Uruguay, or spend a lavishingly long amount of time in Brazil (let alone go there at all). I’m sad that I’m not going to see Easter Island in Chile (well mostly this is because the flight there was $800. Ridiculous.) But I would rather spend my time enjoying the fact that I AM in one country, rather than preparing myself to dash off to the next one.

So that is my tip of the day friends. Chill out and enjoy the place that you’re in.

Panama adventure starts tomorrow. I can’t wait.

Much love,


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