You’ve just booked tickets to your dream travel location. What’s next? The itinerary of course. Sitting down to write and plan your itinerary, it’s common for people to think of the typical tourist sites first thing.
If you’re going to Rome, you’ll write the Colosseum and the Trevi Fountain down as a must-see – there’s no question about it.
When people travel, so often, they opt for the tourist route, being sure to see all of the sites, going on all the tours and reading all of the brochures.
When in actuality, those who travel “off the beaten path” as they say, will actually get much more out of their travel experience than those playing tourist.
Explore past the beaten path and you’re guaranteed to discover the country’s culture, food, lifestyle and people more than you would from a tour.
That’s the difference between a tourist and a traveller. A tourist is someone who is just quickly passing through and a traveller is someone who completely immerses themselves in the new culture and way of living.
Freestyle travel can be intimidating for beginner travellers and it can take time and travel experience to start getting used to this more adventurous and spontaneous way of travel.
Freestyle means not always following a strict, preplanned itinerary and that can become stressful for anxious, new travellers.
When I travelled to London, England a couple years ago, I made sure to see the Buckingham Palace. I figured that since I was in London, I should try to see all of the sites. I thought that it would help me to get the most out of my experience.
When I arrived at Buckingham Palace, it was overcrowded with tourists. Everywhere you looked another individual with a fanny pack and the “I love London” t-shirt was snapping a photo with their DSLR.
You’ll quickly learn that you don’t have to document everything with the “I was here” photo. It’s about actually being there, in that moment and experiencing it for yourself, not for the Facebook likes.
I found that this tourist-infested mess completely ruined the rich history and the story behind the Buckingham Palace. In that moment, I vowed to myself that I would make less of an effort to carry out the tourist to-do list and just enjoy the city, my way.
Walking around the city, ducking into the charming hole-in-the-wall restaurants and checking out the spots crowded with locals provided for a much more fulfilling and rewarding travel experience. Cause when in Rome, right?
This is how travellers encounter those happy accidents and travel stories that every explorer shares after an epic trip. Even better, they make for memories that will last a lifetime.