I have previously said that there are several ways to travel, based on accommodation. In my humble opinion, they can basically be broken down to fit three main categories:
These kind of accommodations are perfect for backpacking or road-tripping. It’s the motel 6, a camping ground, couch-surfing, or a cheap city hostel and it’s the perfect way to travel on a budget. It’s basically the indie movie of travel set to a soundtrack made up of equal parts Explosions in the Sky and Magnetic Fields.
Traveling this way is definitely a step up in price from basic accommodations. And while some of the accommodations in this category can be relatively expensive, there are plenty that are still affordable and can be the perfect compromise for those looking for a bit of comfort but not the hefty bill that comes with staying in luxury hotels. These hotels tend to be small, in prime real estate, and is a design lover’s wet dream. Say hi to the boutique hotel, the bed-and-breakfast, and airbnb.
Okay so these are the kind of places that cost an arm and a leg and is just as much about the experience at the hotel or resort itself as the sight-seeing around the city or town this hotel might be located. Gyms, spa services, and copious amounts of room service generally come with the territory. And unless you are making serious bank, the only opportunity you have to take one of these trips is by saving up shit tons of money and blowing it all at once, selling your left (or right) Kidney, or going on a family vacation. Mom and Dad, if you are reading this, I love you. (But seriously, as nice as this form of travel is, it’s my personal opinion that it should be done sparingly as luxuries are not meant to be indulged in all the time.)
And then, there’s the fourth type of travel, which is primarily used by 20-something-year-olds residing in Europe. It’s what I have lovingly dubbed the I’m-just-crashing-at-my-friend’s-place-because-it’s-free-and-I-love-them-plus-did-I-mention-it’s-free? type of travel. Which may just be the best form of travel because free IS beautiful. Just kidding, the most important thing about this way of traveling is not the lack of a price tag but the fact that you get to spend time with people that you love. Granted, if I were planning on staying anywhere for more than a few nights, I would definitely pay, but crashing with a friend for a long weekend is a great way to travel without having to invest in accommodation. It’s like couch surfing without the Russian Roulette factor. (Friendly Tip: Do offer to buy said friend dinner during your stay as a thank you and make sure to be ready to return the favor when they come to visit your city. No one like’s an oblivious, ungrateful asshole.) This is the kind of travel I opted for when visiting London.
Now, each type of main travel accommodation can then additionally be paired with the kind of trip you want to take – a romantic holiday with your partner, a relaxing holiday with little pressure, the adventurous trip spent exploring everything, the social trip with friends either part of or made on the journey, to name a few. Hell, it’s like building your own made-to-order burger. An amazing made-to-order veggie burger with vegan cheese and taco chips – can you tell that I’m hungry (and that I am obsessed with burgers? (Pro tip: Yellow Sunshine in X-Berg. You can thank me later.) Anyway, back to the point of this post. When you opt for that fourth style of travel, you are pretty much opting for one specific kind of pairing. Think of it like ordering the special without substitutions.
This kind of trip basically guarantees lots of hangs with awesome people. And this trip differs from just traveling with a friend to someplace new because you are visiting them not traveling with them. And so the place you are visiting often becomes less important, and the time you get to spend with friends becomes the main focus. Now I don’t mean that sight seeing and taking in the city become irrelevant. It would be pretty fucking stupid to pay for a flight to another country only to spend it sitting on the sofa at your friend’s house. But hitting every tourist attraction is just less important. (And to be honest, even when I am traveling to a new place, regardless of who is with me, I’m just not all that into serial-sightseeing).
In a lot of ways I prefer this kind of travel because I still get to see sights, but instead of running around like a chicken with it’s head cut off, constantly being surrounded by other tourists, I get to have someone who love spending time with take me on a “bespoke tour” of the city. And this tour, while still including certain touristy things, is mainly rich in giving me a taste of the local culture. (Pro tip: Visiting friends who live someplace else will also give you a better feel for what it feels like to live in said city/town/place as opposed to just seeing it with tourist eyes.)
And so, on this particular trip to London, I was less fussed about making sure I got to see specific things, and more interested in wandering around in good company. There were a few things on my list I was able to tick off – like seeing Shoreditch and Soho – but I was mainly there to have hangs and feels with good company and get away from Berlin for a weekend. I’m totally up for another trip to London – as I’m kind of obsessed with travel and have this weird thing where I actually like to go back to places I’ve already been to if I love them (Fuerteventura and Vienna, I’m looking at you). Plus I can’t wait to explore the things I have yet to see with the amazing people I have the privilege of calling my friends. But that’s how I like to leave a place – with just a few things still not checked off of my list. Because you know what they say, you should always leave a place still wanting more. And London, if you’re listening, I still want more.
Photography: Rae Tashman