Don’t Tell Me How To Travel: A Letter to Travel Authorities
“If you didn’t hike X mountain, you certainly didn’t visit that country”
“What? You went to X? Definitely you missed the best part”
“How is it that you didn’t explore X museum while you were visiting”
These are some of the statements that are becoming popular to hear lately. The truth is: I am getting sick and tired. I am not sure if this is the travel blogging world’s fault or whose, but this situation is becoming annoying. For some reason, certain group of travelers believe they are an authority and that what they did and explore on their trip becomes a law. They think they can tell others how to travel and that their view is the only one you should follow. If you decided to explore that same destination other way, you certainly didn’t visit that spot.
I would call a travel authority or travel judge to those who think that their itineraries is the only way to explore a certain location. The world is such a big place, and in year 2017 we know that is really diverse. Why believing there is just one way to travel? Why thinking you can tell others how to travel exactly?
Here’s my story
As a traveler, as well as a person, I am sure that I have my own tastes and things I am willing to do. Against to what it seems to be a norm in the travel world: I am not into hiking, I am not even adventurous. I respect and enjoy all those travelers who go on long hikes and push themselves off the limit. I follow them on Instagram, I love their pictures and everything they do. The only thing is that, I am not one of them, and I am sure that’s ok.
If there’s something I truly believe since day 1 I launched this blog is that there is space for everyone. Doing what we love the most while we travel will help us to achieve finding loyal followers and readers that identify with us. I am sure many of my followers are also up for adventure, but I am also sure that some others, are more laid back.
About my last trip…
This last Summer I decided that I was going to Guatemala and I will be traveling to Colombia alone for my birthday. I started to plan this trip since January, when I was able to win a certificate to go anywhere thanks to the International TEFL Academy. After some research, I knew exactly what I wanted to do in both places. I was also taking in account my budget and set up some priorities. Reactions came quick.
For my Guatemala birthday, I knew I wanted to visit two places: Antigua Guatemala and Guatemala City. That was it. I didn’t wanted to take a whole day to get to Tikal. I knew I was missing Lake Atitlan and no, I don’t regret it. I’ll come back and I will visit it. No, I didn’t go to any volcano. Complaints from travel authorities came even quciker.
“Oh, you needed to make the Volcano hike.” “Oh, but why you didn’t visit Livingston?” “Why are you going to Guatemala city? It’s ugly and boring”
I confess I started to feel overwhelmed by those reactions. I would never tell to someone who really want to make a volcano hike “don’t do it, that’s boring!” A Volcano Hike might be boring for me that I am not a hiker, the same way exploring a city, taking public transportation and just looking at the way people behave might be boring to you. I am passionate about cities, about museums, about just getting lost in the streets, discovering their markets or their big commercial streets. That’s my thing. And no, I don’t judge those who do something different. I can’t go telling people how to travel, even though I write a post on my experience. Maybe that’s why I travel on my own.
You certainly didn’t have an authentic experience…
Who we are to judge others’ experiences as authentic or less? Of course, if you ask me, I try to follow what locals do where I visit. Just that there is something I am also sure I can go through. There is a point of almost any trip on which I might be homesick. Its not exactly that homesickness of wanting to go home and back to the routine. It is a feeling of actually stop exploring, or try to flow with things that are more familiar to you, even when they are not local.
Even though is not my cup of tea, I don’t blame those travelers who once on their trip, decide to go and eat in McDonalds. I don’t blame those who need their Frappuccino at some point. There is nothing wrong with doing that and we should stop shaming those who do it.
Do I feel is wrong traveling and not exploring the local culture? Yes, I do. The whole point of traveling is discovering. Of course you need to try new things! Do I blame people for taking a break of exploring? No. I am not a travel authority that judge people or tell them how to travel my way and not theirs!
My advice in this situation is..
Live and let live. This is not entended to tell people not write itineraries on how to travel or not to be travel bloggers, of course not. This is written to be a way to reflex a little bit. I am sure I’m guilty of doing this in some instances. In fact, I would love to apologize to those I have put through this situation.
If people ask for suggestion: give them suggestions! Tell them your favorite restaurants, your favorite spot in the destination, send them that post you wrote on that. That’s exactly what that person is asking for.
What is really entitled and a stupid thing to do is going through a Facebook (or any social media) post asking “Did you went X or Y?” and when the person replies “NO” tell something like: “But, then you didn’t explore that place properly” specially if this person is telling you what their interests are. Don’t be that annoying person. Don’t start talking about all the things you did and the rest of the places they didn’t explore. You weren’t asked about that.
By the way, when you do that… do you consider the other person’s budget? I know people who only go to Paris to see the Eiffel Tower. I have my own view on the Eiffel Tower, but… who am I to judge that they didn’t want to see all those Van Gogh in the Orsay Museum? The Orsay Museum obsession is just mine, as my feelings toward the Eiffel Tower are just my own. We decide on what we spend our money while traveling. Maybe the person that you are talking to didn’t have enough money to go to 8 different locations across the country and decided to explore those 3 only. Let’s respect that.
I am sure that most of us haven’t done this with the intention of being total assholes (pardon my french), but in the end is what we end up being. We are travel douchebags when we do this and I am sure that its not the way we want to be seen by others. Let’s start to be a little more aware of our differences when it comes to how to travel or explore certain places. We should celebrate and respect them.