This is something that has been playing on my mind for some time now and so, if you decide to carry on reading, I’m just gonna thank you in advance for being my sounding board! Also, I’m really keen to find out what you think about the whole thing.

I’m gonna try to keep it brief. (But ultimately, I kinda sense that it will end up being not-so-brief… 😀)

Essentially, even though it’s a term I use very frequently, I’m so fed up with the constant advice and insistence that somehow travel needs to be “off the beaten track” for it to be authentic. This isn’t something I find frustrating for myself – I tend to just do what makes me happy anyway and I feel confident enough to do so – this is something I find frustrating because I’ve met so many people who feel ashamed of doing the ‘obvious’ or ‘cheesy’ things when they travel due to all this travel-shaming (even when the obvious stuff is what they really want to do).

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Don’t get me wrong, I have no issue with people using the term “Off The Beaten Track”  – it’s an English phrase like any other and appropriately describes a specific type of experience. My issue is with the idea that somehow, off the beaten track experiences trump those well-trodden path experiences. It soooo isn’t the case.

I was talking to a friend about the Maldives when she mentioned something romantic which happened to someone she was travelling with, while caveating it with “I know it sounds cheesy but…” (almost like it was something not to be proud of) at which I had to interrupt to say, “You’re in the Maldives! It’s an amazing place and one that so many people dream about visiting. There’s nothing cheesy (or even remotely shame-worthy) about that”. Visiting the Maldives is a trip of a lifetime for so many people and other people’s expectations of what a trip to the Maldives should look like shouldn’t diminish that in any way.

There’s so much elitism (which is absolutely ridiculous and unnecessary in travel) when people insist that say for example, if you arrive in London and want to do obvious touristy stuff like see Big Ben, go on the London eye or take a hop on, hop off bus tour, you’re somehow ‘not doing London right’.

For starters, these experiences are popular for a reason and you don’t need to do the exact opposite of a popular thing for you to have a more authentic experience.

You don’t need to venture into the fringes of East London for you to truly experience London. It’s still very possible to hang out with locals and make genuine connections even when you’re smack-bang in central London because contrary to what people might like you to think, Londoners do go out, shop, drink, eat and party in central London (amongst many other places). Popular places like Borough Market aren’t an exclusive hang-out spot for visitors only – a lot of locals really love to spend time here.

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I know I’m using London for my analogy here but this applies to any other city, town or village across the world you travel to. Your experience in Paris isn’t diminished or less important because you went up the Eiffel Tower, you haven’t enjoyed Barcelona any less because you ate and drank on La Rambla, being excited about going up the Empire State building in no way makes your New York travel experience any less exciting or Authentic.

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Your travel is special and fun because you enjoy it! Not because someone else says it is.

Venturing away from the norm doesn’t make any experience any more or less valid.

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Sometimes, trying to be so different and stray so far from the crowd and do the opposite of what the crowd is doing is so ironic because even though that person might feel like they’re being individual and unique, their act of doing the opposite of what the crowd is doing shows that what they’re doing is still being decided by said crowd they feel they’re different from. Doing the opposite of something, simply because it’s the opposite still, means someone else is deciding for that person what to ‘rebel against’.

Doing the opposite of something, simply because it’s the opposite still, means someone else is deciding for that person what to ‘rebel against’.

Anyway, I’m gonna stop rambling on here and get to my point… and that point is – there’s absolutely no need whatsoever to go off the beaten track for you to have a great experience travelling!

Experience whatever you want to experience on your travels because it’s something you’re interested in. Do what you want to do because it’s something you love. (*All of this, of course, is fine as long as you’re not hurting anyone, any animals or your general surroundings).

Ignore the noise of people telling you that photo of you with the leaning tower of Pisa is too cheesy or that eating in certain places is ‘awful’ because that’s where the visitors eat (it should only ever be awful because the food is awful 😄 – and vice versa, of course).

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At the end of the day, your travel is for you and your memories of your travels should be exactly what you want them to be – not what elitists decide that they should be. ❤️

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  • Leny

    totally agree with you! Even though I love visiting lesser known spots because I can enjoy the place without crowds of other tourists, and I get the impression of having “discovered” a secret place, I also enjoy more “touristy” places because obviously, they are popular for a reason, be it spectacular views, architecture or delicious food. So a combination of both is my idea of a great trip, and yes, any traveller’s itinerary is ideal so long as they enjoy it. Thank you for reminding us of this basic but often questioned truth Yaya! 🙂

    • HandLuggageOnly

      You’re so right, Leny. It really needs to be what you like and not allow others to make you feel like you’re being too ‘touristy’.

      Big hugs,

      Yaya & Lloyd xx

  • Taste of France

    Things get ON the beaten path because they are amazing. There should be no shame in wanting to see the most outstanding sights. OTOH, if you spend your whole vacation ticking off a list of the top attractions, you are going to find yourself increasingly disgusted with having to stand in lots of lines with lots of tourists, because most of the top sights involve lines, crowds of tourists or both. And that is when you need to get off the beaten path, for a change of pace, a breather, that involves how local people live and not just the amazing stuff to see.

    • HandLuggageOnly

      Exactly, shaming travellers or visiting a popular place as it seems like it’s too touristy is just not great at all. Learning to travel for yourself is the best and really embracing what you wanna see.

      Thanks so much, ❤️

      Yaya & Lloyd xx

  • Lorri McCallum

    Brilliant! I think this is especially true for new travelers. My hubby and I, after many visits to Paris, traveled with another couple that had never been there. It was great fun to do all the “touristy” things with them and view it through fresh eyes. We also went to some out of the way places that most tourists don’t venture into and really enjoyed that as well. Balance is good! Shaming is not so good!

    • HandLuggageOnly

      Exactly! Shaming is never good – especially when it’s your own holiday.

      Thanks so much for your kind words, Lorri.

      Yaya & Lloyd xx

  • I totally agree with you. Everyone should do what makes them happy and what they want to do no matter what someone else is saying. We are different and so we enjoy certain things differently.

    • HandLuggageOnly

      So true. We all enjoy different things… it’s so important to hold onto that.

      Lloyd & Yaya xx

  • I agree with you Yaya, especially if you’ve never been to a city before & want to see all the sights + get your bearings too. I did a hop-on-hop-off bus & canal boat tour whilst in Amsterdam last year because after a long-haul flight with an early arrival + getting lost for an hour trying to find my hotel, I had very little patience & energy for walking the streets. Even then I felt a bit ashamed of doing the tour but hey, at least I got my bearings & could figure out where things were, plus it killed several hours whilst I waited for my room to be ready. Sometimes practicality (and jetlag!) wins out over elitist snobbery & I think you need a balance of both touristy things & off-the-beaten-track stuff’. Either way though, it’s YOUR holiday, YOU do what you damn well like!

    Shell // The Novice Life

    • HandLuggageOnly

      So true, Shell! It really is your holiday and you shouldn’t be shamed into thinking it has to be a certain way. Plus, who doesn’t love a good tour bus if you need to get your bearings or kill a little time… totally with you on that! 💛

      Yaya & Lloyd xx

  • so true!

    • HandLuggageOnly

      Thanks, Tanja ❤️

      Yaya & Lloyd xx

  • If you visit a city for the first time you HAVE to go on the beaten path and do “touristy” stuff. When I first visited New York I did all of those things: the hop on hop off bus (great way to see places of the city I wouldn’t have time to explore e.g. Brooklyn), Empire State building, Statue of Liberty, museums. You name it, I visited it! On my 3rd visit to the city I was able to explore more. I walked in Williamsburg, Upper West Side, SoHo, TriBeCa.
    I totally agree that when you travel “you do you”. I do read that off the beaten track posts only when I’m not visiting a city for the first time, or if I have plenty of time to sneak them in my plan!

    • HandLuggageOnly

      You’re so right, Anna – so glad you agree too! I swear we are peas in a pod! #PerfectTravelBuddies

      Lloyd & Yaya ✈️ ❤️ xx

  • Hear hear! I’ve always believed that whoever is spending the money to go on holiday (because, let’s face it, holidays are not cheap) gets to decide what’s being seen and done and what’s not being seen and done. If you’re dropping cash, you shouldn’t have to listen to ANYONE telling you what’s “not cool.” F**K that and do whatever you want! Who care if things are deemed cheesy or too touristy – do you really want to risk regretting not doing those things just because someone labelled it uncool? No.

    • HandLuggageOnly

      You’re so right, Vanessa. It’s so important that you listen to your own rhythm and do the things you’d like to do. The last thing we’d wanna do is miss seeing a place for fear of seeing popular sites.

      Lloyd & Yaya xx

  • Laura Torninoja

    I loved this post! Everyone should have the right to travel exactly how they want to – especially as holidays are often a short escape from reality and our everyday lives, and they should be enjoyable without any guilt or pointless stress!

    Whilst I always strive to show visitors coming to London other things than the main attractions, it’s just to give people a bigger picture on what the city is all about, not because these other things are somehow “better” (although that’s of course a matter of opinion). When I first came to London I would have never wanted to miss seeing Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament – they’re such an iconic part of the city and I would have been so sad to miss them. Travel is supposed to be fun and shaming people like this can just take all the fun out of it! xx

    Laura // Middle of Adventure

    • HandLuggageOnly

      You’re so right, Laura. Totally agree with you… can you imagine if you’d missed not seeing Big Ben! There really is no need to shame people when we all want to see some of the big sites.

      Lloyd & Yaya xx

  • I love this post. At one point, in my early traveling experiences, I was a bit ashamed to go to the touristy sites. Which really sucked, because some of those things is what I wanted to do the most! As time progessed, and as I have gotten older, I’ve become way more confident in doing what actually interests me, in spite of what other people think. I’m glad you put this PSA out there ! xxx

    Melina |

    • HandLuggageOnly

      Thanks so much, Melina. You’re totally right… It’s the same for us and we should never feel guilty for wanting to see the ‘popular’ places that might have attracted us in the first place. So so happy you feel the same. Thank you.

      Lloyd & Yaya xx

  • Excellent post! I totally agree – travel is a very personal experience and everybody experiences things in their own way. Sometimes its necessary to get “that photo” of the most famous landmark of a country, and often free walking tours or tour buses are a fantastic way of getting your head around a big, unknown city. When I was in the Maldives I also couldn’t resist “that” famous Maldives shot!

    • HandLuggageOnly

      Exactly, Mark. So glad you agree too. Travel really is a personal experience and you should experience things your way.

      I swear we didn’t put our cameras down in the Maldives, it’s so incredible isn’t it.

      Lloyd & Yaya 😀

  • Very true… Travel should not be done keeping in mind the crowds but it sholud be a highly personal experience based on individual choice. What may be touristy for me maybe it’s off beat to someone else. I feel it should be a perfect mix up of touristy & off beat experiences.

    • HandLuggageOnly

      You’re so right, travel is so relative and different for everyone. So glad you agree, too.

      Lloyd & Yaya 😀