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I’ve been travelling full-time for nearly a year now and it’s always interesting to see how people react to each new destination I visit. 2018 has taken me to 13 countries so far (two of them twice!) and it’s safe to say that some arouse much more curiosity than others.
Japan? I’ve always wanted to go! I’ve heard there’s robots everywhere.
Georgia? I’ve heard it’s incredible!
Swazi – what? Where’s Swaziland?
If you follow my journey on YouTube, you’ll know that I still get excited – perhaps even a little too excited – about pretty much everywhere I go. No matter where I’m travelling to, I’m doing what I love most – and who wouldn’t be excited by that?
But I’d be hiding part of the story from you if I didn’t tell you about the niggly voice that sometimes appears in my mind. Is there enough to explore here? Is there any unique thing to try? Can I make a good video out of this?
And then I catch myself – because that’s not what I believe. Like, at all.
You see, I’ve been thinking about this a fair amount recently. Not enough to lose sleep or precious Love Island viewing time over, but enough to want to sit down and type up this 1524-word post to share with you.
The travel industry isn’t without competition and sometimes travel can seem like a game for the ones who have been doing it for a while. Whether it’s counting countries, eating the strangest foods or crossing borders that most wouldn’t dare approach, every travel professional wants to earn their passport stamps.
As content creators and travel ‘influencers’ (man, I hate that word!) there’s a lot of pressure to be travel trendsetters ahead of the curve. To share new things and experience ‘real’ travel. To discover places that might not have ever been on our readers’ and viewers’ radars before (and, in all honestly, probably never will be even if we do go there).
When you stumble into this world, it can be easy to overlook the kind of places your friends and family have heard of. You probably wouldn’t even consider the places they love to go themselves. And as for package holiday destinations… well, they can go into the ‘touristy’ bin along with all the tacky souvenirs you once brought back from them. You know, before you became a ‘real’ traveller.
Let’s just slow down a minute.
Yes, some places are just naturally more “epic” than others. Some are more remote, hosting only a handful of visitors at any given time. And some still hold secrets that are yet to reach the popular travel market.
Having travelled to some seriously breathtaking places this year – places I couldn’t have even pinpointed on a map last year – I get why everybody wants to ditch the mainstream spots for something a little more adventurous, but are we writing off the other places too quickly?
As someone who absolutely adores travel, I want to visit everywhere. From the most remotes villages in the Caucasus mountains (where currently am) to the most “touristy” places on Earth, I want to visit them all and here’s why:
1 – Everywhere is somewhere
Whether a place has been visited just once or one billion times in the last week alone, every place you travel to is a travel destination. It sounds blindingly straightforward, but it’s easy to take the travel part for granted when you think you already know a place or have been somewhere similar before. Even if you’ve been to the same destination before, you’re still travelling and every trip is an experience.
2 – There’s always something new
Everywhere I haven’t been is somewhere new to explore. Even if you don’t discover any new dishes in your 20th Spanish town, I’m sure no other restaurant will have cooked your meal in exactly the same way before. No waiter would have had the same stories to share. no
Wherever you go, there’s always something new to discover or learn because you’ve never been there before.
3 – Everywhere has history
The Great Wall of China and the Pyramids of Giza might be the main historical sights that draw visitors to China and Egypt respectively, but they’re not the whole history. Despite their grandeur, they’re only a snippet of the country’s history, so why not dig a little deeper?
Even places that have become known as Brits Abroad-flooded party resorts have history – after all, they were there long before the stag do’s invaded. Some people might write them off as party destinations, but I kind of enjoy the challenge of digging in and finding what lies underneath.
4 – They’re popular for a reason
Destinations only become popular when they have something to offer. After all, even nomadic travellers like don’t spend their time and money to travel to places for no reason. Yes, a destination’s popularity might mean it now comes with a load of tacky gift stalls and overpriced Fanta, and that kind of sucks. But does that mean that place is no longer worth visiting?
5 – Travel is a personal experience
No matter how many people have been to a place before you, not a single one of them has had exactly the same experience as you. Because, well, they’re not you. When you visit a destination, you bring all your thoughts, ideas and beliefs with you, and you see the place in a unique way. No one else has had that experience, no matter how many footsteps you’re following in.
6 – There’s no right or wrong way to travel
Here’s the big one. There are sensible and less sensible ways to travel, safe and not-so-safe ways to see world, but there is absolutely no “wrong” way to travel. If you want to quit your job to travel and only visit the European party spots, you do that. If you only want to stay in 5* hotels, you do that. And if you don’t want to hike up a huge-ass mountain for the ‘epic’ views (ahem, selfies) at the top, then don’t.
It kinda sucks that some people get all judge-y about travel, but they’re not going to become your travel – or lifelong- buddies anyway. Travel the way you want, when you want, and your’e doing a good job
Over the last 8 months, I’ve been to a real mix of both ‘touristy’ and ‘adventurous’ destinations. And while island-hopping the Philippines and road-tripping the Guatemalan border in Chiapas, Mexico were both incredible adventures, today I want to share a few of the adventures I had in some of the most ‘touristy’ places I visited recently.
It doesn’t get much more touristy than Vegas, does it? The entire strip was built for tourism!
If I’m being totally honest, I thought I would hate Vegas. I imagined tacky lights, sleazy streets and overpriced everything. But I decided to go because I happened to be in the area anyway and what I found surprised me. Instead of the over-the-top headache I was expecting, I found an over-the-top world of entertainment for all ages. Vegas is a world of its own and I loved it so much that I think everyone should visit Vegas at least once.
I kicked off my crazy European summer with a week-long stay in Gran Canaria at the fancy 5* Seaside Palm Beach hotel. We were staying right on top of the famous (but ‘touristy’) Maspalomas Dunes, had half board catering and spent most of our days on-site.
It was your typical half board package holiday… only it wasn’t. Not only were Emily and I the only people under the age of 30 at the hotel, we were also the only ones who abandoned their sunbeds for most of the day. Instead of lounging in the sun drinking mojitos, we were mostly on the deck or our balcony with our heads stuck in our laptops.
Even though we were in the most touristy of places, our experience was completely unique and it turned out to be an incredibly productive week. Who knew that lying by the pool could be so good for business?
Oh, Turkey. I’d been to Turkey only once before and it was to exactly the same spot. I hopped on the plane slightly apprehensive, worried that the bar-lined streets and rows of stalls selling knock-off goods wouldn’t exactly make for great blog content… and was pleasantly surprised to see how things have changed.
Ölüdeniz took me completely by surprise, and I was completely blown away not only by just how much history and culture there was to enjoy, but also by how well it had integrated with the tourism boom. I was also blown off a cliff when I went paragliding for the first time ever, was taken completely out of my comfort zone and found a new hobby I’ve since enjoyed elsewhere too.
If there’s one lesson I’ve learned this year, it’s to not overlook places simply because they’re popular or touristy. As much as I’ve enjoyed exploring lesser known places like Hokkaido, Chiapas, eSwatini and even Dusseldorf, I’ve had just as much fun getting to know the more mainstream destinations and making my own memories there.