I didn’t write this, but I could have: this is totally my MO. Sometimes you just don’t WAN’T to do what everyone else is and that’s okay.
There are many places on the globe that are famous for partying. Miami, Ibiza, Ko Pha Ngan, Vegas, and Rio, to name a few.
And then there’s Mykonos. Perhaps not as world-famous, but among the Greek backpacker circuit, it is THE party island.
The road to Mykonos
My college BFF and I studied abroad our junior year — I in Paris, and she in Florence. Though we majored in partying and eating that semester, we also completed intense minors in struggling with French/Italian, combating cultural differences, and actually studying.
As our reward, we decided to travel to Greece and Turkey once classes were over. Have fun and let loose on the Greek Islands, then get cultured up in Turkey. I could barely contain my excitement.
Those Greeks better get ready; this was going to be CRAZY!
Exciting, amazing, beautiful, it was. Crazy, it wasn’t. As we ferried through the stunning Greek Islands, we kept waiting for that one omg-you’ll-never-believe-what-happened night. Sure, we’d eat, drink, and be merry. But we never tore up the town like we had envisioned doing — as any 20-year-old fairly uninhibited chicks should be apt to do.
We were tired from school, and broke from living in Europe. We also had missed each other so much during the semester that just being able to spend time chatting or hanging out together in the evenings was excitement enough.
One night, as we laughed about our lameness, we came to the realization that we had been waiting for Mykonos. Of course! That, after all, is where the parties happen. The all-hours clubs, wild hook-ups, and trays of shots. That’s why we hadn’t gotten crazy yet — we were just waiting for the ultimate place to do so.
It’s time to party!
A few days later, we arrived in Mykonos. This was it. We were going to party like it was 2007. (Wait, it was.) We were going to go to a real live club and stay out dancing ALL NIGHT LONG. At long last, the lives of two small-town girls were going to be just like an AC/DC song.
Most of the hostels were full, but we eventually found a cute little room to rent. We set our backpacks down and hurriedly headed out for dinner. The sooner we ate, the sooner we’d be making all of our spring break dreams come true!
Because being a college girl is awesome, our waiter gave us a free bottle of wine with our meal. (Looking back, this has now been the start of many failed nights out.) Tipsy and full, we headed back to our room.
Time to pick out our clubbing outfits! Get our dance on with sexy Greek men! Hell yeah — bring on the gap-yeared boys with accents!
But, as we started to get ready, we realized our hearts weren’t in it. As pathetic as it sounds, we were tired. We’d traveled all day and eaten a big meal and just… didn’t feel like it.
Could we really skip the Mykonos club scene?
Really, who goes to Mykonos and doesn’t party? What would we tell people? What would we say when the “cool people” at the next hostel asked us which club we went to? Most pressing of all: would we regret it?
We hemmed. We hawed.
Then, we found “Red Dragon” on TV. In ENGLISH. (Any seasoned traveler knows how exciting it is to find something on TV in English. And to find something you actually enjoy? Amazing.) It was over. We settled in, box of wine on the night stand, with the all-night parties going on around us.
Travel is about choices
I’ve traveled a lot more since then. Both with my friend and without her. There are always times that I wonder if I’m skipping something I’m “supposed” to do, times I’m afraid I’m not “making the most” of my time, or times that I feel guilty for “missing out” on some sort of opportunity.
You know what, though? Some of those times, including that night in that little Greek hotel with my BFF, drinking wine and assessing Edward Norton’s (everlasting) sex appeal, are some of the best travel memories of my life.
As I’ve grown, and as I’ve traveled (often simultaneously), I’ve realized that, most of the time, travel isn’t what you expect it to be. Most of the time, it isn’t what others expect it to be, either.
So leave “musts” and “shoulds” and expectations behind. Travel is about choices. And your choices are good — because they’re creating the memories YOU cherish with the people YOU love. As long as you’ve got those, who cares about anything else?
Susan has been working ungrownup seasonal jobs and traveling the world since 2008. She’s passionate about sharing adventure travel and the seasonal work lifestyle with everyone. Catch up with her on her blog, Travel Junkette, or on Twitter.