Updated: 08/04/19 | August 4th, 2019
Recently, a reader of the blog left a comment on my post. It stopped me in my tracks:
I do wonder after so many years of travel [that] you don’t seem to have been to that many places, and I would have to say also that many of your destinations are pretty “safe,” well-trod places.
I told him we all go where we most desire to go, and my destinations are based on that. This turned into a debate about giving travel advice, what makes an authentic traveler, and a few other subjects. In one of his last comments, he said:
I’m not saying you aren’t a traveler, but you are a boring traveler…and I do wonder why you make all this fuss about yourself. And yes, there is more authentic travel, and then there is safe, boring, gap-year circuit travel. Do you think Marco Polo would have been as revered a traveler, if instead of crossing the silk route into China, he instead hung out in backpacker hostels for years, hitting on young, impressionable girls and drinking beer in the sun?
Having now traveled the world for over a decade, I’ve met a lot of travelers who disparage the route others take.
I’m going to be honest: I can’t stand it.
Yes, I’ll give you my suggestions and tips on what to see and do in Berlin. I’ll give you tips about how you can travel cheaply based on my experience. I’ll think out loud about the nature of travel and my personal thoughts on it as a way to help me hash out my feelings. If you want to read along and comment, all the better.
But I’ll never make accusations about where you decide to go.
That’s your own personal choice.
I find it extremely condescending when travelers talk down to others because of their destination choices. I see this all the time on the backpacker trail. Personally, I don’t believe there’s any such thing as must-see or must-do when you travel.
Because you travel for you and I travel for me.
I go to destinations based on the order in which I want to see them.
I skip some towns and countries because it makes me happy.
I disliked my time in Vietnam. Yet other travelers absolutely loved their time there.
I eat sushi around the world because it brightens my day. You may hate sushi or prefer to just cook your own meals while you travel.
I don’t go to some countries because I don’t feel like it. Maybe you do.
I hang out in hostels with other travelers because I enjoy it. Yet other travelers will prefer hotels or resorts or Airbnb.
And yes, even I visit cheesy tourist attractions sometimes!
Travel is a highly personal experience.
I don’t care where you go or what you choose to see or skip.
I don’t care if you went away for a year but never got past your first destination because you simply fell in love with it or someone there.
And I couldn’t care less if you boozed it up all through Southeast Asia and the closest you got to seeing a local was the guy serving you beer.
It’s not what I would do, and I may write a post about why I think you shouldn’t either. But that’s my opinion and if you decide to do it anyway, good for you.
Because at the end of the day, the only thing about travel that matters is that it makes YOU happy and brings YOU joy.
As Mark Twain is wrongly credited with saying (it’s actually from the book P.S. – I Love You),
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
Even if that just means spending a week drinking at a resort in Cancún or getting wasted on the beaches of Ko Phi Phi.
Your journey is your own.
Enjoy it however you want.
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