— G. K. Chesterson
This about sums up my travel philosophy. As well as the problem that was honest-to-goodness troubling my heart when I came up with the idea for this blog.
Let’s not over-romanticize it, but travel is an adventure, a unique experience, a way to be a sponge and just absorb your new surroundings. Tourism is hitting the major sights and checking them off your list. And instead of seeking out unique experiences, many tourists seek out clichés. This is what troubles me. They see a place on tv, read about it in a book, or see something on the internet, and want to go to and see only what they’ve already seen. Or what everyone has already seen (and photographed, and loved) except from closer. And they fall into the trap of thinking if they’re not waiting in line, ticket in hand to see some sort of monument, museum or church, their time spent abroad is being wasted…
Let me tell you, I’ve learned more about Italy, (and lots of other countries I’ve had the pleasure of visiting) by wandering map-less through the streets, watching interactions between locals, trying to speak the language and eating foods that didn’t always look or taste like what I was used to at home, than I did by racing from one tourist attraction to another, just so I could see experience the exact same thing that millions before me have.
So I guess that’s where I feel I’m unique in my travels and point of view: I consciously try to be. I don’t like to travel and only do things that everyone else has done. That can still be fun, educational and enriching – don’t get me wrong. I certainly wouldn’t pass up a trip to The Great Wall of China just because lots of people have gone there before me! But I’ve also tried hard to have experiences that deviate from the ones that adorn the standard Travelers’ Checklist. Because that actually gives me something new to write home about, or in this case, blog about.
Think about it.