I was playing around on Facebook recently, procrastinating doing something or other, when I chanced upon one of those buzzy articles about over-thinkers. I clicked on it and within a couple of minutes found myself nodding in complete agreement. I’m an over-thinker, which isn’t meant in the intellectual sense per se, but rather in how people like me see the world. It’s a mindset and while not an entirely healthy one, it does have some advantages. There are certain times though when it’s a hindrance, especially when it comes to travel and I’m sure that my fellow over-thinkers will commiserate with me when it comes to these situations that drive over-thinkers crazy.
We worry about every detail
It’s our nature to think, think about again and then reconsider a few more times every possible detail of a trip. Maybe that’s why I enjoyed my recent tour experience in Egypt, I didn’t have to agonize over every detail. This of course leads to over-planning, which typically takes away all fun and spontaneity from a trip. I’ve tried to improve, but a recent trip to Iceland really showed me how much I haven’t actually changed. Before leaving home, I made a spreadsheet divided by day and then activity. I then came up with a fairly detailed list of things to do and see for each day and proceeded to worry that I was missing some once in a lifetime experience I hadn’t heard about yet. There were multiple options and contingency plans all built into the spreadsheet. That’s insane. That is what crazy people do when they vacation and I was right there with the rest of the loonies. Normal people do not need spreadsheets to relax. It’s a common issue for over-thinkers though and it takes a lot to break this cycle of maniacal over-planning.
We imagine every worst-case scenario
Let’s take the same trip to Iceland. For about a week before we left home I agonized, AGONIZED over the weather. The forecast wasn’t good and I was worried that it would be really hard to get around. Then I worried I had selected the wrong part of the country to spend my time in, sort of wishing I had gone with Option A instead of B. Then I worried about worrying; yes, this is actually true. It’s another lovely personality trait of the over-thinker, we like to imagine everything that could go wrong so we can prepare and worry about it. I look at those young backpackers who just drift through life without a care in world and simultaneously envy them and also worry about the details of their adventure they aren’t spending time agonizing over. If I don’t have a worst-case scenario to think about, I think about other people’s problems as a sort of public service I suppose.
We can’t sleep anywhere
This is true of us no matter where we are, but suddenly becomes more pronounced while traveling. It’s bad enough when we’re at home and have a thousand thoughts running through our heads instead of blissful and calming sheep, but these thoughts seem to only multiple when traveling. Is the trip going well? Will I make my train connection tomorrow? Will I wake up in time to make my flight home? Have I done and seen enough? Am I in the right hotel? Will someone break in overnight and steal my passport? What’s that sound? Welcome to the thoughts of the average traveling over-thinker as they attempt to catch a few hours of shuteye before starting the next day. I’m also incredibly jealous of people who can sleep wherever they are, whether it’s in a train station, on the back of a camel or on a plane. Over-thinkers lust for this ability, but we’re lucky if we can fall asleep at all much less in extreme circumstances.
We don’t believe the people we travel with
We love traveling with other people, so much so that we worry constantly about whether or not they’re having a good time. Did they really like that museum or are they just saying that to be polite? They agreed a little too quickly to that dinner suggestion, they probably want something else. We over-thinkers care SO much about our traveling companions that we analyze and re-analyze everything they do and say just to make sure they’re having a nice time. Needless to say this has resulted in more than one argument between my partner and I as we’ve traveled the world, I usually refuse to accept anything he says and instead imagine his thoughts and feelings for him. So if you find yourself traveling with an over-thinker, have some patience and be sure to constantly say how much fun you’re having.
We WANT to live in the moment
Believe me, it’s not that we don’t want to enjoy travel experiences as they happen, it’s just hard to shut off our brains sometimes and just absorb the situation. That’s why when I do find that special place or activity that gives me the chance to not get lost in my own thoughts, but rather get lost in the experience it suddenly becomes THE BEST THING EVER. We’re also somewhat prone to overstatement and make attachments quickly, so those nice places become life-changing, forever endearing destinations. I think that’s one reason why I seek out amazing experiences more than anything else. Walking around old buildings is fine, but I need to DO something, I need to concentrate on something other than my own inner-monologue in order to truly have a great time.
Reading back through these, I realize that I make myself and other over-thinkers seem to be somewhat insane; perhaps candidates for medication or admittance into the nearest sanatorium. But we’re not nuts, many people are over-thinkers to some level and most of us will exhibit these traits throughout the course of our travels. I exaggerated a lot to make my points, but hopefully this post will help all over-thinkers re-think (ironically enough) how they travel and enjoy a more relaxing, and less thought provoking experience in the future.
What are some other traits of the traveling over-thinker?