Overcome Travel FOMO – How to in 5 easy steps

Overcome Travel FOMO in 5 easy steps – today more important than ever!  Do you suffer from Travel FOMO, the “Fear of Missing Out” when traveling, from a too long bucket list? You feel overwhelmed with it and completely unrelaxed?  You are certainly not alone in this! Travel FOMO shouldn’t get in the way of your happiness in life. Learn with the classic BIG5 steps by JOURNICATION how you can beat Choice Overload – the overwhelming number of options – and Travel FOMO and thus travel more relaxed and conscious.

What do you learn in this article?

Do you also suffer from Travel FOMO?

There are sooooo many travel destinations around the world, so many exciting places to discover. But how are you ever supposed to travel to them all?

Who doesn’t dream of traveling the world non-stop as a digital normade or travel blogger and working cliché-like with the fancy laptop from the poolside? But for many – myself included – the reality is different: Annual vacations and budgets are limited.

Maybe you also have a bucket list where you collect all your ideas. And the ideas come from everywhere. From stories told by friends and acquaintances, the travel agency’s shop window, from television, social media. Not a day goes by when you’re not confronted with inspiring images or posts.

I travel a lot and have already been able to realize many ideas. But: My list is getting steadily… over the years. longer! Yes, you read right. I experience the phenomenon that despite a lot of traveling, the list rather gets longer than shorter…

Where to go on the next trip? The wide choice confuses many when planning

Yes, that’s me. And I also suffer from Travel FOMO – clear diagnosis.

With choice overload grows the Travel FOMO

And there is always the fear of missing something unique, something unforgettable, of not having been there. What exactly that is, is different for everyone. The sunset on Santorini with a pool and a delicious drink? The party in Cancun? A gondola ride in Venice? Walking over the Great Wall of China?
Preferably everything this year, but…. So many ideas, so little time. And that makes you un-relaxed, turns travel into a ToDo list that needs to be worked off.

And let’s face it, no one really likes working off to-do lists…. I actually googled if there is a technical term for “the fear of too long to-do lists”. Unfortunately so far unsuccessfully. Until I’m proven wrong, I’m talking about todo list phobia.

And so there it lies, making us unrelaxed, the ToDo List or Bucket List as it is called by some especially for travel or special experiences.
You always feel like you’re missing something – classic case of FOMO….

What is Travel FOMO?

The term FOMO, the “Fear Of Missing Out” was coined by former Harvard student Patrick J. McGininis in 2004.

It refers to the state of mental or emotional distress triggered by the “fear of missing out.” According to the Cambridge Dictonary, FOMO, meaning “fear of missing out” is: an anxious feeling that you might miss out on exciting events that other people are going to, especially caused by things you see on social media.

This feeling is not new, but is evolutionarily-biologically deeply rooted in us: anthropologically, it is simply in our nature to want to participate in more and more experiences. If we don’t participate, we run the risk of being left behind by the group. So it all seems perfectly reasonable from an evolutionary perspective.

In today’s society, however, the pressure is increasing sharply – at least it feels that way.

Overcome Travel FOMO – more important today than ever before

Never in human history has so much been documented. (Cell phone) cameras are ubiquitous in everyday life and take pictures of everything that doesn’t grow on trees or disappear from the plate – be honest, when was the last time you photographed your food before taking the first bite instead of just enjoying the great taste?

Through social media, pictures are spreading around the globe in real time. I can “accompany” outwardly happy people all day to great places, the Caribbean, the Brooklyn Bridge, or deepest Africa. And where am I right now? On the bus to work – great! But we also want to have these great experiences, not miss out on anything great that’s out there.

We put ourselves under this pressure, consciously or unconsciously. Day after day. And the pressure gets bigger and bigger. Too many possibilities. Too many potential goals. In professional circles, this is called “choice overload.” If I do one thing, I miss something else…. it’s maddening. For some, unfortunately, not just literally.

Travel FOMO: Beat the fear of missing out when traveling

Travel FOMO has a negative impact…

… on the travel destination and the environment

Great photos are posted on social media and shared further. More and more influencers are jumping on the bandwagon. And bang, the destination is on the bucket list of many many travelers worldwide. Due to the bundled and abruptly increasing attention of certain destinations, so much of the original charm and authenticity can be lost. Everything is being remodeled and fixed up for the tourists. Original features are lost.

The environment is being ruthlessly destroyed in many places because tourists bring money and jobs.

Many places are so overcrowded that it already degenerates more into stress than into the beautiful vacation experience. For one day in Dubrovnikor one day in the Bay of Kotor, it is better to follow the schedule of the cruise ships when visiting and look for gaps in it to enjoy the sights halfway in peace.

Inspiration for new places is nice, but inevitably leads to a certain herd instinct – with negative consequences for locals and the environment.

… on your happiness in life

Constantly seeing what other people are up to – and at the same time just sitting at home. Inspiration” from friends and social media can quickly turn into frustration. The bucket list gets longer and longer, and everything becomes less and less relaxed. There are so many places left to visit, how are you supposed to get it all done? And this one and that one have already seen a lot more countries and cool cities… oh dear.

You’re not going to win this race. There are always others who have achieved more. And that can make you really dissatisfied and unhappy in the long run.

So how can you beat travel FOMO?

Overcome Travel FOMO – the BIG5 Steps

Do not compare yourself with others

“Comparison is the end of all happiness”

This quote by the Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard applies to all areas of life, not just travel. But even here, comparing is not conducive to your satisfaction and is the cause of travel FOMO.

You look around, in the city, talking to friends, on your smartphone. With social media, it’s never been easier. You see what others are doing great, what exciting places they are visiting, how many countries they have already traveled to. What can be motivating and inspiring at first quickly turns into frustration. Because no matter how much time and money you invest:

There’s always someone who has traveled to more countries, been on the road longer, and has the cooler pictures in their feed. It doesn’t matter how many items you can check off your own list.

The “bucket list” is getting longer and longer – I must admit my own! I myself am a real candidate for it, have already seen and experienced a lot myself. But if I go on Instagram, I see what else is possible. Adventurous travels through the deepest Africa, month-long tours with the extended camper van, a life as a surf instructor in Portugal… My life is boring. NO, it is not!

Because it’s not about the others at all! It’s about you, about your experiences. About the experiences that are important to you personally – no matter what the others do!

At most compare yourself with yourself

With where you were a year ago. Or five years ago. What have you achieved since then? How have you evolved?

So stop comparing yourself to others – definitely easier said than done! The next step is helpful for this:

Which destination is the best for me? Too much choice...

Overcome Travel FOMO: Answer your WHY

Travel for yourself, not for others, and have the most exotic Instagram profile possible. The trip should not be primarily for impressing others. This is quite similar to status symbols.

“They buy things they don’t need to impress people they don’t like with money they don’t have.”

The famous quote by Richard David Precht can easily be applied to a trip. The expensive watch quickly becomes the photo in front of the Eiffel Tower, in the swing on Bali or in the infinity pool on Santorini.

If you don’t focus on photos of famous landmarks or the best Insta-spots when you travel, what’s left? What are you traveling for?

What is your big WHY?

Be honest! What feels good to you? When are you fully in your element on a trip? Is it the exciting impressions of new cultures? The delicious food you’ll never get at home? The adrenaline rush of adventurous activities? Just getting away from it all? You will always answer these questions with a slightly different focus, depending on your current circumstances and framework. But the key is to ask them!

Because that is the basis for the next step:

Question your current bucket list

Now, with this new clarity, take a closer look at your existing bucket or idea list for travel. What’s on it?

Now ask yourself the crucial question:

Why is it there?

Because others dub it a “must-see”? Or is there a strong WHY behind it?

Travel FOMO creates long bucket and check lists for travel

Maybe we can thin out the list a bit before we move on to the next step:

Overcome Travel FOMO: Prioritize wisely

There is so much to see and experience! Even with a lot of time and money, it becomes arbitrarily difficult to travel everything (whatever “everything” is for you). The solution: prioritize.
The preparatory work from point 2 will help you to do this. You should have clearly answered the question of WHY for yourself in order to put the many items on your bucket list in a clear order that makes sense for you.

Personally, I have sorted my travel ideas collection into different categories:

  • By duration (short / weekend trip or city break, 1, 2, 3 weeks)
  • According to need: Do I need just…
    • Recreation?
    • Adventure?
    • New perspectives and views?
    • New contacts?

With a clear prioritization, you can avoid rushing from photo spot to photo spot during a city trip, even though you’re actually looking for relaxation from stressful everyday life and would have been better off booking the wellness hotel in the mountains. Or instead of discovering adventurous, foreign places, you’re sailing through the canals of Venice in a gondola full of tourists – just because it’s on the bucket list of many travelers as a “must do”.

It’s their bucket list, not yours! You don’t become happy by copying someone else’s life.

Collect stories, not numbers

The really exciting thing about travel is the many small and big stories about the experience that you bring home with you. And that has nothing to do with numbers.

No one is really interested in how many countries you’ve seen, how many buses you’ve taken there. The questions always quickly get specific: “What did you like best?” or “What was the craziest thing you experienced there?”. No one cares about the bus that got from A to B on time according to the schedule. But the story of waiting uncertainly for hours at some intersection in the jungle and the bumpy ride including a flat tire is something neither you nor your audience will forget.


Balkans road trip: Best Rakija Friends forever - Radovan & Philipp


One of the most beautiful moments during more than 3 weeks of Balkan round trip was the meeting with the local Radovan in the hills above the Bay of Kotor, who spontaneously invited me for a homemade Rakija. Was that somehow planned or on my bucket list? Surely not… but still a great moment – even without English.

Learn to consciously enjoy the journey while focusing on the points of your WHY. So always question:
What makes a good trip for me at this moment?

Don’t make the trip just another to-do list. The danger actually exists, I myself am a super candidate for this – just swap the office to-do list for a travel to-do list. The place and focus change, the underlying stress probably doesn’t… and that’s definitely not the point of the (travel) thing.

Travel consciously, take your time, collect exciting stories…

…not just hastily snapped pictures and checkmarks on lists. This is the way to overcome Travel FOMO.


Now it’s your turn!

You’re certainly not the only one who suffers from “Travel FOMO” and in this article you’ll learn how to beat it.
Here are the BIG5 steps at a glance again:

  • 1) Do not compare yourself with others
  • 2) Answer your WHY
  • 3) Question your current bucket list
  • 4) Prioritize wisely
  • 5) Collect stories, not numbers


How do you overcome Travel FOMO? Let us know in the comments!


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  1. Martina

    I loved the question, “what is your big WHY?” I often forget that knowing your big WHY helps in making decisions for a lot of things. This was such a nice read. Thank you for sharing x

    • Phil

      Thank you Martina 🙂


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