When I was in travel school, we had this weird kind of qualifier that was meant to be for future clients, but of course was applied to us and our classmates and everyone else we know. It went like this: If you travelled in order to learn, or to experience local culture, or to sit in a tree with your bongos and dreadlocks then you were a traveller and if you travelled solely to beach destinations, or enjoyed being pampered, or have ever bought anything from a chain vendor rather than local then you qualify as a tourist.
Now obviously there’s nothing wrong with either qualification, even if travel students like to be a little high and mighty about how adventurous they are. There tends to be this stereotype that adventurous people can’t enjoy tourist destinations, and I think that is just ridiculous. So I have provided some handy tips for those people who consider themselves travellers on how to enjoy a destination designed for tourists.
1. Don’t go alone
Solo travel is great and will allow you to do a lot of the things that you can’t do when travelling with other people, but nothing will make you feel more alone than not being able to laugh at the cheesey entertainment with someone, or missing out on the ocean because you’re afraid to leave your things on the beach by themselves. Also, beach volleyball for one is a lonely game.
2. Just go with it
If you’re used to travelling for culture, the pace in a tourist destination will be different than what you’re expecting. Try not to get caught up in your thoughts and just enjoy what’s in front of you! Don’t be afraid to laugh at things you would normally regard as stupid or to get excited about the world’s largest ball of string.
3. Stow the expensive camera
Leave your DSLR at home. You’re not going to get your brilliant and thought-provoking shot for National Geographic at Disneyland. Instead, bring a point and shoot or even your smartphone to get those silly shots of you and your friends that you miss out on when there’s no sign pointing out your perfect Kodak Moment.
4. Don’t be afraid to make a joke out of it
Sometimes things are just too over the top. That’s okay. Make a comment to your friend and move on. See who can count the most Elvis impersonators, try to stump the crooner asking for requests, you may just find yourself accidentally having a good time, and you might get a Tom Jones lookalike to sing Iron Maiden.
5. Talk to the employees
Most people are super awesome if you’re just nice to them. Befriend a staff member and they may just tell you which bathrooms are the quietest, what times you should go to dinner to avoid crowds, or which shows to catch and what to skip. You may just end up making a new friend along the way.
These are really just guidelines that I use for myself when I’m going to enjoy a tourist destination. There’s nothing wrong with mainstream, as long as you have fun with it!
Before you leave, just a note that yesterday I took my first free day from BEDAY. Partly because the internet was still out, and partly because I was short on time and didn’t really want to write another filler blog. Blogging every day for a year is a crazy commitment, so I’m glad I gave myself those two grace days per month. They will really come in handy I think. But I’m back now I hope you didn’t miss me too much.