So, I recently read an article where Anthony Bourdain- you know the tall, lanky chef-turned-traveler on “No Reservations” and “Parts Unknown”- well, he gave an interview and the article was entitled, “All the Things You’re Doing Wrong When you Travel, According to Anthony Bourdain”.
Before I read the article I knew I immediately hated it.
I truly, truly hate articles about travel that tell people how to create their own memories. Articles that tell people that their dream about going to stand atop the Eiffel Tower is “wrong”. To eat at a McDonalds or Starbucks in another country is “wrong”. To go to 7 cities during a 10 day vacation is “wrong”.
So, I already had my guard up. Then I read the opening line to the article, “Anthony Bourdain thinks traveling to Paris just to stand atop the Eiffel Tower is lethal to your soul. And a selfie in front of the pyramids in Giza? Completely overrated. Bourdain is on a mission to change how we see and experience the world. Skip the tourist traps. Avoid the lines. And please, please, never book a prepackaged tour.”
Oh please. Vomit.
Seriously? You’re going to tell someone that their dream of going to the Pyramids and taking a selfie is overrated?! When the majority of Americans have just two weeks of time off per year many don’t have the luxury of just “getting lost” or going to a remote island that takes 3 days to get to, and there’s only one flight off of it, 5 days later. Sorry Mr. -I-spend-250-days-of-the-year-traveling on-someone-else’s-dime-AND-get-paid-for-it. We don’t have your life.
As for pre-packaged tours- my god. Have you ever been to a Travel & Adventure Show?(https://travelshows.com) If you haven’t GO! You would not believe the incredible INCREDIBLE pre-packaged tours that exist out there that are not cruises (forgive me if you love cruises- I personally do not- but do your thing, baby!) gAdventures, National Geographic, Intrepid, and so many other amazing travel companies exist out there that allow you to have that intimate experience all while making things comfortable so you can actually relax from your life. Cause I don’t know if you know this- but “travel” is different than “vacation”- and that’s a post for another time. I spent 70 days in Africa on a ‘pre-packaged’ tour- and I got to camp under the stars, pet a lion, bungee jump off a bridge, sleep in the desert on a rock and watch the sun rise. I got to sit on the edge of a waterfall, listen to an incredible South African band at an Arts Festival in Zambia, walk through a spice plantation and ate street food in Zanzibar, stay on an island in the middle of the Okavango Delta and feel like I was in the Lion King watching the most beautiful animals I’ve ever seen in my life. Yeah- that was a pre-packaged tour.
Don’t get me wrong- I so truly understand Anthony Bourdain’s sentiment. Essentially he wants people to escape their typical lives, and push themselves out of their comfort zones. And I get it. Do I agree that it’s amazing to get out and see more than the “sights”? Sure I do. Do I think it’s incredible to wander around and let the experiences just happen- of course. Does talking to people enrich my trip and create incredible moments? Sure! But here’s the thing about travel. Those things are going to happen regardless of the way you travel. They just are. Unless you are a hermit and literally talk to no one, these things will happen. So let’s just ease off the gas here a minute and jump off the judgement train.
Listen, if you like taking cruises and just stopping at a port of an island- good on ya! It’s not for me, but who am I to tell you how to spend your relaxation time!? If you want to go to Finland and spend 3 months there exploring the culture, immersing yourself, GO FOR IT! Oh my gosh, that’s amazing! If you want to “chuck it all” and do an “around the world” trip—well, please take me with you! I’m in. But please, PLEASE don’t judge people about what they’re excited about. You think Paris is overrated and want to go to a little farm village in the countryside of Paris and learn to make cheese- AMAZING. Get those hands gooey. But guess what, that person who is standing on top of the Eiffel Tower smiling from ear-to-ear because she always dreamed of this moment. Yeah. That’s pretty special. Let’s not take that away from her.
Anyway, I suppose my point is this. Ignore all travel “must do” lists. Or if you want to read them, use them as resources. Pinterest is also great for that. I have a whole board with hundreds of things to do on my travels this summer. It helps me to plan and prioritize my time away. I don’t have the luxury of traveling 250 days a year. And I certainly am not rich enough to be throwing caution to the wind and hoping for the best. That said, I will keep my eyes open and just enjoy my time, no matter how I choose to spend it. I hope you’ll get out there, wherever you go, and enjoy your time too- no matter how YOU choose to spend it.