By Cacinda Maloney
Travel is one of the greatest human freedoms and all of us are free to travel.
Where is it that you dream to go? for me it is…
This year… Greece
I want to go on an adventure, a journey. Not a tour. I am just not a tour person. Maybe a smallish tour, but not with a huge group of people who are waiting for the guide to take them around and create their experience. I went on a Contex Travel Tour one time in Barcelona, Spain. Now that was an amazing tour, just a small group of 6 of us, walking around town being led by a docent. I saw things on that tour, that I probably would have missed had I not been with the tour.
To me tourism and travel are two very different things. Mega tours are a multi-billion dollar business these days. It is travel that is sold as a commodity. People pay for it and they expect a certain experience, they expect certainty. They go and they have an experience. A “certain” experience, but for me, that is not what I really want to have. I want to have an adventure, I want to go on a journey. Journey’s are never perfect, they have difficulties, but in the end, you learn something, something about people and places and how things work and in the end, it is all worth it.
Not every place I go is beautiful. Although, of course, I prefer it. It makes for better photography! But sometimes, you need to see this way of life and area of the world to better appreciate your own life and you usually meet really great people along the way.
I accept that the experience I have can be a wild ride, bumpy and uncomfortable, but yet it can also be enriching, fulfilling, stunningly beautiful and mouthwatering scrumptious as well. I have realized that these tour companies can’t really sell me an experience, they can’t sell me a country. I have to figure that out on my own. I mean, I love Rome, and Paris and Barcelona, but it is the things I find as I wander the streets that make my experience so surreal. Just look at this post on Istanbul call Aristocrats, I mean, when you are on a tour, you don’t get to stop and take a picture of a cat! (Now I didn’t start out taking photos of cats, mind you, they just happened.) But what I am saying is that when you travel as an individual, you have time to stop and see the things that are interesting to you.
People say they “do” Rome or Paris, but no place is ever done. I can return over and over to the same place but never “do” it. Each time, upon my return, it is a different experience. To me, travel, real travel is when we are open to what what the experience is going to be, be it thrilling, joyful or miserable. As I have experienced all of these in a single journey.
Also, as I travel, I like to use the public transportation, the experience can be difficult, but it is usually rich in experiences.
Traveling fills me with wonder, and it seems to be a natural wonder that cannot be duplicated by not doing it. As I see in my own kids and myself, unfortunately, efficiency and technology is killing our sense of wonder, which is the very thing that causes us to travel in the first place Today travel is almost predictable, because tourism is a business. We can see Paris on the internet, in three dimensions, 24 hours a day. And although I love TripAdvisor, we can see the same room that 100 others have already slept in, it gives us a sense of certainty. And I do like that too, since most of us can only travel a set number of days or weeks per year, and we are tired and worked to death, so we want to know that when we step off that airplane, that we can enjoy those moments forever. Most of us want to minimize this uncertainty.
We are all writing the stories of our lives right now, and we all want to control our story, but if we do that too much we will delete the sense of wonder, but maybe we cancel out something that is more enlightening as well. So my advice to you is “don’t be a tourist, travel more, plan less.” Sometimes we should take the bus, don’t always fly once you get there. I urge you to take a look around and get off the beaten path, go see the world with wonder.
“Tourists don’t know where they’ve been, travelers don’t know where they’re going.”