The traveller sees what he sees. The tourist sees what he has come to see – G.K. Chesterton.
When it comes to travelling, there are a load of hints and tips as to what you should be doing: catching the flight prices early; not booking on a Tuesday; heading to booking.com to take advantage of Free Cancellation; travelling out of season for the cheaper prices… The list goes on. There are not many things about what not to do because, surely, it is all fair game when it comes to hopping on a plane for the best part of your year, or absconding from home for a lot longer than the average fortnight. However, I think that we are all a little guilty of doing the following things, especially in this day and age when we are always searching for the most inspiring places as well as looking through a heavily filtered lens half the time and, as humans, having an idea of a place before giving it the chance it deserves.
DON’T COMPARE YOUR EXPERIENCE TO OTHERS
Every person’s experience is different in every aspect of life. From your experience in education, a night on the town, a position in your career, to travelling across the world. We cannot rely solely on other’s experiences in order to determine how our own will turn out. More and more, travel is becoming a place of pretty pictures and Instagram hot-spots. We don’t see the nitty gritty of a damp hostel with no locks, only the incredible sunsets and ocean views. We don’t see the pickpockets, or the dodgy looking people down an alley, only the magnificent cathedrals and mouth-watering food. You might feel as though you have lost out on what could have been a life-changing holiday, only to realise that other people probably saw all of this too; it just didn’t make the highlight reel. On the other hand, somebody might have had the worst experience in a place and warned you off it; you could go and have the time of your life. Obviously, always use caution when exploring a new destination, and don’t throw away good advice if it is given. Remember that this is your experience and it is your time in a place – make the most of it!
DON’T GO WITH THE ATTITUDE OF STICKING TO WHAT YOU KNOW
Travelling, or being a tourist, is letting go of what we know we love in food, drink, architecture and experiences. It is good to be safe, but better to branch out and try something new. This way, we can find out that we absolutely adored the exhilaration of sky-diving and was terrified of scuba-diving when our expectations were the other way around. I hold my hands up and I will be honest: when I went on my holidays to Tenerife, I never wanted to eat Spanish food, but stuck with the Full English and pizzas and sausage and chips. Places like Tenerife, in Las Americas and Los Cristianos, are for British people who like to go home-from-home. It is the UK with sunshine. And I love Tenerife for that very reason. But, when I go on city breaks and further afield, I want to at least try the local cuisine and see what the locals see, making sure that I fully immerse myself into their home.
DON’T HAVE SPECIFIC EXPECTATIONS OF DESTINATIONS
Because we spend so much time researching destinations via our phones on social apps like Instagram and Pinterest, as well as blog posts, we tend to see the best bits of that place. And so, we higher our expectations in doing so. We see blue, blue oceans on sunny days when the ocean may not be as blue and sparkly when we visit; or it could be even better than what we envisaged. We might have heard that a particular excursion was the best thing of someone’s entire trip which makes us believe that it will be an incredible experience when we go, only to be disappointed if we don’t enjoy it as much. This entire point links with comparing our own experiences to somebody else’s: if we go to a place because we want to make the best of it whatever is thrown at us, it is a guaranteed way of creating amazing memories.
DON’T LEAVE THINGS UNTIL LAST MINUTE
If you leave packing, or sorting your money, or making sure you have enough in the bank to cover the hotel (personal experience – the realisation at 3am on the day of flying is quite stressful) to the very last minute, you will not be in the right frame of mind to enjoy your holiday. Instead, you will be flapping and panicking and wanting to make sure that everything is okay before getting less than six hours sleep, which doesn’t help the stress. If you have everything sorted well in advance, so much so you know exactly where your passport is and where you have stashed your spare money, it will make your travel experience a lot smoother and a lot more fun too as you’ll be focusing on enjoying yourself, rather than quadruple checking the boarding passes that you printed half an hour before leaving for the airport.
DON’T FORGET TO MAKE EVERY SECOND COUNT
You go on holiday and all of a sudden, you’re back at the airport wondering how time literally flew into the past. We count down the days and the hours to our trips away, so much so that we just want another day to be over so we are closer to the mountains, or the beach, or the exquisite relics of history. Once we are there, we are busy planning what we need to see and where we need to eat in order to make the most of the limited time we have. For those who love to document everything (hands up), we are busy figuring out angles and waiting for people to go passed and looking through the camera instead of taking in the place around us with our own eyes. It is only after that we can see what the camera saw, and sometimes not even all of what it captured.
What do you think of these points? Are you guilt of any? I think that we all are in some way or another, and we need to cherish travel more for what it used to mean, rather than what it means in the time of technology.
Love, Faye xo