I Don’t Give a Damn How You Travel

I have huge respect for the travel community. Huge.

Without you guys, I wouldn’t have discovered all these new destinations on my wishlist, honed my voice as a travel writer or made so many new friends. And there’s really nobody I’ve come across that I dislike, so this post isn’t aimed at anyone in particular. Just something I’ve been thinking about for awhile, and then I was inspired by Steph’s post at 20-Something Travel.

I feel a lot of travel material out there attacks the way people travel. Everyone’s all about anti-materialism and being minimalist, and they’re competitive. People boast the lack of items they own. Everyone’s deeply involved in aid organizations, fundraising, and relief efforts.

Then there’s the “tourist” stigma. Like wandering around being amazed by your surroundings is a bad thing. Like finding excitement in even the most frequented destinations is somehow wrong.

And the “get to know the locals, not other travellers” advice. Because other travellers aren’t worth the time?

Don’t get me wrong, all these aspects of the travel world are amazing. The people who assemble organizations and participate in causes are outstanding, and should be commended for their hard work. However, I’m at the point in my life right now where I contribute where I can, but simply do not have the resources/time to devote myself anywhere else. Does this make me a bad person? No.

And being minimalist? I like shopping. I like trying on new outfits, mixing and matching, feeling good and going out on the town with my friends. I don’t necessarily own a lot (my bed and my laptop are the only items of value), but I care about the things I do own. Could I give up these things if I had to? Absolutely. But I don’t want to. Wanna fight about it?

Being a tourist in Ireland.

Being a tourist in Ireland.

As for being a tourist…if you’re exploring anywhere new, you’re a damned tourist. If you’re a white Canadian wandering around Seoul, you stick out like a sore thumb, even if you actually live there. This is not a bad thing. It shows you’re willing to leave your comfort zones, try something new. Who gives a shit if you’re snapping pictures of everything you see, wearing an “I Love NYC” shirt and fanny-pack? Who the hell gave anybody else the right to judge?

People are worth your time. It doesn’t matter if they’re a tourist, expat, long-term traveller, local, or business person. Everybody has a story to tell, a relatable experience, something to gossip about over a beer. If I’m on the other side of the planet and I happen to run into a friendly Canadian, hell yeah we’re hanging out.

For me, travel is about knowledge and fun. I do the research beforehand, and have fun while I’m there. It’s about taking pleasure in the smallest of moments, whether it’s uncovering some secret, quiet valley at Gros Morne National Park or gawking at sculptures with 2000 other people in the British Museum.

If you’re enjoying it while not hurting anyone else, it’s fine. You’re living. Have a freaking blast. Stop taking travel so damned seriously.

So if you see me at TBEX, come say “hi.” I’ll be the one wearing the Statue of Liberty foam hat.

  • http://www.candicedoestheworld.com Candice

    Hehehe, good way of putting it..I don’t travel enough to be judged either.

  • http://www.candicedoestheworld.com Candice

    For reals! We are so flaunting our touristy attitudes at TBEX!

  • http://www.candicedoestheworld.com Candice

    Awww come on, I have a blue one that would look just great on you.

  • http://www.candicedoestheworld.com Candice

    (refer to comment left on your last blog entry)

  • http://www.candicedoestheworld.com Candice

    Knee high socks, too?

  • http://www.candicedoestheworld.com Candice

    I am PUMPED to see the Statue of Liberty. And everything else in NYC. Ahh!!

  • http://www.candicedoestheworld.com Candice

    Thank you kindly!

  • http://www.sarah-park.com Sarah

    I couldn’t agree more. There is no word I loathe more in travel writing than “authentic.” …What part of my fanny-pack carrying, camera toting, Disneyland visiting experience wasn’t as real as somebody else’s living out of a backpack, journal scribbling, no-shoes wearing trip to Southeast Asia? I mean, I dig that whole minimalist, live free, eyes wide open thing, too… but, dude, the Eiffel Tower is fucking rad.

  • http://genuineescapism.wordpress.com Adriana

    just travel, whatever way makes you happy, as long as you learn something!
    great post!

  • http://www.solofemaletraveler.com Sabina

    Hear hear, Candice! I don’t care either. I’ve never been backpacking in my life, can’t imagine that I ever will, and I loved the one cruise I’ve been on. I would like to go on more. This attitude flies in the face of a lot of people. I’m sometimes called a tourist when I travel, and I don’t mind. Whatever.

  • http://www.hikebiketravel.com Leigh

    After almost 40 years of travel the only thing I care about is … travel in whatever form it takes. No star to 5 star – it’s all good. And meeting people from all over the planet is what makes is memorable and worthwhile. Does it really make one iota of difference what anyone else thinks or how they perceive you? As long as you’re respectful of cultural customs then I think anything goes.

    Looks like I’ll be able to pick you out a mile away in NYC – if I get off the wait list.
    Great post as always.

  • http://www.expatheather.com Heather

    Hmm I feel like my comments on this one would be way to too long. Might have to do a response to your response…

  • http://maiden-voyage-travel.com Emily @ Maiden Voyage

    Amen, sister! I couldn’t agree more. After reading certain blogs, I start to feel guilty for using a carry-on suitcase rather than a backpack, which is silly. I feel like some folks in the vagabond movement think they’re too cool for school and make those of us who travel more like “tourists” feel like we aren’t doing it right. That’s definitely BS. I love shopping, and I love traveling, and those are not mutually exclusive. So thank you for this post — I think you are spot on.

    I’m planning to be at TBEX, too — I look forward to meeting you!

  • http://www.spunkygirlmonologues.com SpunkyGirl

    Everyone has their own travel styles and preferences, but they shouldn’t be shoving them down other peoples throats. What works for me, won’t necessarily work for others. I canceled my phone, internet and cable today, but that’s because I don’t really use them and I want to save more money. I don’t recommend everyone do that. Why torture yourself! haha. I could stay home and not spend money, but I like to go out sometimes for a pint and some fun and I’m still doing that.
    Meeting locals is fantastic, but interacting with other travelers can be outstanding. You can form some great relationships as well.
    Oh, and I’ll be sure to wear the same hat to TBEX ;)

  • Harley

    Thank you! It’s about damn time. :-D

  • http://earlfrau.wordpress.com Sefi Ng

    Couldn’t have said it better myself! Love this post, okay if I tweet it right? :-)

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  • http://budgettravelerssandbox.com Nancie (Ladyexpat)

    I think we may have read the same article recently :)

    I agree with every word you have written.

    The important thing is we are traveling or living in other cultures.

  • http://thejungleprincess.com Abby

    Good girl! I didn’t even know “tourist” was a bad word until I red that article. It’s all about having fun and learning new things, which go hand-in-hand anyway. I throw around the phrase “intrepid tourist” every time I leave my neighborhood… I’m so out of the loop!

  • http://www.candicedoestheworld.com Candice

    Hahahaha Sarah, the Eiffel Tower IS fucking rad! I feel like deleting my entire post and just re-posting your comment. Gold.

  • http://www.candicedoestheworld.com Candice

    Thanks, Adriana!

  • http://www.candicedoestheworld.com Candice

    Funny, I imagined you to be all about the backpacking at some point in your life! Tourists rock.

  • http://www.candicedoestheworld.com Candice

    Exactly, I really feel it’s about the people as much as the place. And respect is definitely key.

    It will be SO sweet if we can meet up at TBEX! Yes! Need more fellow Canucks around.

  • http://www.candicedoestheworld.com Candice

    Still waiting for it. ;)

  • http://www.candicedoestheworld.com Candice

    Hahahaha it’s funny, because I was thinking about earlier how I should pack for NYC…suitcase, or backpack? Ridiculous. Awesome, looking forward to meet you too!

  • http://www.candicedoestheworld.com Candice

    *gasp* You cancelled your phone, cable & Internet?! I’m actually super impressed. Or does this mean you won’t be around so often now?

    Us Canucks are going to take over TBEX!

  • http://www.candicedoestheworld.com Candice

    Lol, thanks!

  • http://www.candicedoestheworld.com Candice

    Hahahaha, Tweeting is more than appreciated. ;)

  • http://www.candicedoestheworld.com Candice

    Most definitely! And learning all the while…

  • http://www.candicedoestheworld.com Candice

    Hahaha that’s the goal, make “tourist” a good word instead of bad! It’s a mission.

  • http://www.twortw.com Daniel

    Agreed, Candice, backpackers—and I count myself among them—haven’t cornered the market on insight. And the transformative power of travel isn’t necessarily forged in the furnace of worry, hardship and minimalism. But there’s something to be said about the tourist/traveller dichotomy—and a lot of it has to do with the way one group views the other. Like anything — it’s all about balance. There’s room for taking travel seriously and having a good time. The world is legion!

  • http://www.candicedoestheworld.com Candice

    Agreed, and I think a balance of both is the healthiest way to do it!

  • http://www.forksandjets.com Eva & Jeremy Rees

    Great post! Got a chuckle from us — we vented on a very similar gripe regarding the traveler/tourist semiotics issue. I think it’s sometimes hard to want to be part of travel community while also wanting to fight against some of the boxes you’ll inevitably end up in it.

  • http://www.candicedoestheworld.com Candice

    So true, I hate those pesky boxes! Glad you enjoyed!

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  • La Viajera Morena

    Seeing this article a little late haha, but I really enjoyed it!

  • Brett A Horting

    sounds about right. it’s all travel, whether near or far, alone or in a organized tour group, ex-pat or lost in Vietiane. I try not to compare what, where and how I’ve traveled differently from you, or anyone. It’s a choice, and I am the one who gets to decide it. Namaste!

  • Brett A Horting

    sounds about right. it’s all travel, whether near or far, alone or in a organized tour group, ex-pat or lost in Vietiane. I try not to compare what, where and how I’ve traveled differently from you, or anyone. It’s a choice, and I am the one who gets to decide it. Namaste!

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  • Sara

    This is my FAVOURITE post by you x