Everyone who travelled knows them. The ones that stay in places one or two days to see all the tourist traps, only to quickly move on to their next destination on the map. The ones that don’t take their time to really enjoy the place and the moment they’re in. Don’t be offended if you feel like you might be one of those travellers, I mean no harm. But let me explain why it’s not always worth it to travel this way.
You miss out on the good stuff
I truly believe that it takes time to get to know a place well and to discover what it really has to offer. I get it, some of you only have a couple of weeks to see a whole country and you want to take as many different photos for your Instagram account as possible. Show the world that you’ve seen all of it and that you’ve been to as many places as you could. But did you enjoy your trip? Or did you spend most of your time on the road to take your next perfect picture?
I won’t judge you if you like doing so. You’re a traveller, free to do whatever you want. Just keep in mind that real beauty can be found anywhere. Not only at the photography hotspots. Better said, the real beauty is often found far away from such places.
Rushing is a wast of money
Traveling can be expensive. No matter how cheap you try to live, most of your budget will go out on transportation. Especially when you try to rush trough a country and if you’re on the move every other day. Just relax, that bus, train, or flight will still be there tomorrow and next week. Take an extra day in that cheap hostel or local market. This way you’ll get to know the place you’re in a little better, and once you do, life will get even cheaper every day. You don’t NEED to spend all that money on all those daytrips. It’s okay to skip a few and relax for a moment.
Don't plan your whole trip in advance before you even get there
A common mistake of many new travellers is to plan the whole trip into detail before leaving. Fine, I did the same on my first solo trip to Malaysia. I soon found out that if I would travel again, it wouldn’t be like that anymore. Traveling to a foreign country. No experience. No idea what to expect. I can be scary, especially the first time. However, you will soon discover that there are always places that you don’t like so much. And of course the places that you like so much that you don’t want to leave anymore. This will happen, I promise you that. But if you planned your whole trip in advance, booked all the hostels and transportation, you wont be able to stay on that beautiful beach for one extra day.
You can't fall in love with a place if you rush
Before I continue. Liking is not loving. If you travelled so hard trough a country that you couldn’t even afford a day to relax, only to come home and tell everybody that you love the country so much. I don’t believe you. Why? Because you’ve only seen the surface of it. Only the tourist infested hotspots along your trail. I believe you if you say you really liked it but remember, liking is not loving. Take your time to emerge yourself in a culture. To stay in one place for a while. It’ll be surprising to you that there is so much more below that surface you only scratched during your run.
Sit down, relax and avoid the tourists
Let me give you an example. Last year, I’ve spent 3 month in Peru. What have I seen in that time? Only 4 places. I don’t feel bad about that at all. It doesn’t feel like I missed out on something. Why? Because I had fun in the places that I DID go. I’ve spent 2 of those 3 months in Lima, the capitol of Peru. A city that most travellers on the gringo trail avoid so they can travel to Machu Picchu as fast as they can. It’s the place where everybody goes right? So they have to follow the horde.
I kept coming back to Lima after every short trip, mostly because Lima is located in the middle of Peru. The last time I arrived there, I stayed in the same hostel I had been 2 times before on that trip. It was a relaxed place, with cool people around. I wasn’t planning on staying and I was waiting for a volunteering job south of Lima. After a few days in the capitol, I found my vibe in the city. It took a while, at first I felt like Lima was just another crowded and polluted city (which is partially true). Until I discovered what it had to offer, under the surface. The real people of Lima, the culture and the amazing food.
I admit, I was planning to go to all the hotspots in the country as well, in my own paste though. But then I thought to myself; everybody goes there, there’s thousands of pictures on the internet about all those places. There’s no need for me to go there anymore. No need to discover what has already been discovered. Here in Lima, I can actually see and get to know the things that the average traveller will never discover. And so I did. I skipped all the popular spots in Peru. And the result of that was that I had the best time of my life in Lima, Peru. Why leave a place if it’s a nice place to be?
Do what you like but keep this in mind
Travel is not always about seeing as much as you can. It’s about seeing what is really out there. What is under the surface. And for that, you must give yourself the time to submerge into the culture, the people and the country. That distinguishes you from others that follow the horde. The perfect picture of a place only exists in your mind, not on your Instagram account.