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).
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 so 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.
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.
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.
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).
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. ❤️