The Lovely JANE of DELUMINATORS is back with another awesome article about travel – this time about the right way to travel. Read on to hear her thoughts (and be sure to check out these past travel tips as well!)
Something that I think about a lot when I travel is whether or not I’m doing it the “right” way. For some reason, there’s a lot of pressure to things a certain way when you travel. You need to use a backpack and stay in hostels, or you’re not a real traveller. You need to eat at the trendiest restaurant you can find and put that aerial food shot on Instagram, or you’re not discovering the city properly. The age old “traveller vs. tourist” question in combination with social media has left me feeling conflicted and, frankly, self-conscious about what I choose to do on a trip.
Sometimes I’ll be innocently wandering through a museum, looking at famous artworks that I can’t see anywhere else in person, and there’ll be a snide voice in my head whispering “This is really touristy. You should be sitting in an overpriced café in that hip neighbourhood you saw on someone’s blog, even though it looks exactly like the hip neighbourhood back home and the coffee probably isn’t as good.” Are we really going to say that major monuments or museums with huge historical value aren’t worth seeing, just because everyone goes?
But, on the other hand, just because everyone else loves something doesn’t mean you’re going to enjoy it. There have been times I’ve talked myself into going to places just for their high Tripadvisor rankings, only to be underwhelmed out of my mind and wishing that I’d saved my precious time and money to do literally anything else instead. Prime example: a certain ship museum rated #1 on things to do in Stockholm. I decided that I had to go, even though I don’t have any interest in ships. It was as interesting as you would expect a museum centering around a ship to be to a person not interested in ships. I could have spent my time better doing literally anything else, like wandering along the water, people-watching in a café, or hell, even going to the ABBA Museum (rated #8, by the way).
Another bone I have to pick is the idea that to be a real traveller, you shouldn’t plan a single thing. If that’s your style, go for it. But I’m that type of person who plans her day out running errands downtown in my own city. If I’m going to be in an unfamilar place for the first time, I’m definitely going to plan my days. If I’m travelling alone, you can be damn sure I’ll over-plan on how to get from A to B safely. Otherwise, I’m just going to be spending all my time worrying about logistics and whether or not I’m doing things the most efficient way, rather than actually enjoying the moment (I do see the irony). Plus, if the best stories come from plans not working out, you need plans in the first place right? I guess I’m reaching a bit there.
And yet, some of the best times I’ve had while travelling have been when there hasn’t been a plan. Like the time we went to Stone Town in Zanzibar; after dumping our bags at the hotel, we went wandering around the maze of deserted laneways as the call to prayer rang out. We chanced upon an amazing coffee house, the insane markets, and at sunset we finally made it to the harbour where it seemed the entire city’s population of teenage boys were doing cannonballs into the water. Granted, trying to find our way back to the hotel later that evening in the pitch black was a harrowing experience, but it was worth it. If you’re an overplanner like I am, I recommend leaving some time blank in your itinerary, and see where that takes you.
So what am I trying to say? Know what you like, and do what you want. You don’t have to drop all your usual personality traits and interests when you travel. As long as you’re being respectful, enjoying yourself, and learning something, there’s no right or wrong way to travel.
Photography: Jane of Deluminators
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