Before I tell you my secret that will help you stop worrying and enjoy the travel experience, I have to ask: How do you travel?
Are you like, say, Herman and Wanda? The ones who have a list of things on his agenda, and they angrily hush the youngest of the family because no, it’s not time to eat yet, and yes, they still have to go through the free museum tour and, besides, the restaurants outside the museum are too expensive anyway?
Or maybe you’re like, perhaps, a Chason and Abby? Holding each other tight, they pose for a two-person selfie while trying to get the museum facade in the frame at the same time? They’re holding the ice cream they bought from the cart a few feet away, not because they were hungry, but it’s hot and that gelato looked really good, didn’t it?
The truth is that we’re all somewhere in the middle, right? But regardless of where you are in the spectrum, there is one thing I guarantee you will ALL fall victim of. It’s unavoidable. It happens whenever you travel, but if you can get your head around it, and accept it, you will be able to find joy in any travel situation.
The thing is, EVERYONE will have to pay a Stupid Tax.
A Stupid Tax is, obviously, any extra money that you will have to pay because you are stupid. And you must humble yourself– you WILL be doing stupid things when you travel. You are not smart about that area, because you just traveled there. There is no way you can be 100% smart about the area, and any percentage you fall short will be your Stupid Tax.
You tipped the taxi driver too much? 5% Stupid Tax.
Didn’t realize you had to pay for bread at the table? 3% Stupid Tax.
You tried bargaining in the market, and still feel like you paid too much? Heck, that could be upwards of 25-30% Stupid Tax.
Chason and Abby (remember them?) paid extra for the gelato at the cart when they could have walked a bit more and found a convenience store, if they really wanted the ice cream at all. It’s all just Stupid Tax, automatically added to your bill.
There are non-monetary ways the Stupid Tax will affect you, too. If you fail to take the direct line with Bus 310 and instead take Bus 278 with transfers to 51 and 32, that could be a problem with some extra Stupid Tax fare, but it might be felt more acutely because of the tax on your time and patience. Herman and Wanda, above, are finding their Stupid Tax in the form of frustration and family tension.
So, if Stupid Tax is unavoidable, how can you have a pleasant travel experience?
The key is to develop this mindset: Do your best to avoid unnecessary Stupid Tax, but be ready to accept it when it comes.
Look at those examples I listed above. These are not bad things, necessarily. Tipping, bread, any sort of bargain at the market, ice cream…
If you are too much like Chason and Abby, then you’ll end up losing a lot more money than you’d prepared, and that will actually end up limiting your options. But if you try to overcompensate, you are too much like Herman and Wanda, and then you’ll end up being paranoid and miss out on opportunities when they come.
For my own example, in my recent trip to Sydney, I researched the kinds of public transport options I would need ahead of time. I was sure that what I would need would be a MyMulti One ticket. On arrival, I asked the subway attendant about the options, and confirmed my decision. After all, I reasoned, I would not be using the ferries very much, and that was what made the difference between a MyMulti 1 and 2. However, as the week went on, I did find myself using the ferries more than I had planned, and so I would have saved money with a MyMulti 2 in the first place. The difference wasn’t terribly significant, but it was definitely a Stupid Tax that I could have spend on something else. I could either stress about it and regret that I didn’t do my homework good enough, or I could accept the loss of a bit of money as “Stupid Tax happens” and continue to enjoy my trip.
I definitely recommend the latter option.