As I read blog after blog of fellow travelers, a constant theme is the determination to get off the beaten path and experience the “new” and the “real” parts of each country. Tourist locations are slammed due to their commercialization and modernization, while some vagabonders purchase a guidebook to find out where not to go.
Now, I’m not a fan of being herded through a castle with a huge tour group, or waiting in line to see the Eiffel Tower, but I also think that you can visit the seven wonders of the world and not buy a suitcase full of souvenirs or pay astronomical prices for every meal.
Every trip is what you make of it and I don’t see what is so wrong with the beaten path. I would never suggest for someone to not visit the Grand Canyon because it made some travel list, or to skip the Colosseum in Rome because they might run into some camera wearing, loud-talking tourists. I proudly went to the leaning tower of Pisa and took my token photo holding it up, and I climbed every step to the top of the Eiffel Tower and am glad I did! These is a reason these locations were deemed beautiful or unique or a must-see.
Now, on the other hand, I do hate to see the fast food restaurants that have turned up across the street from some of these spectacular sights, and I don’t enjoy being nagged by people trying to sell me a cheese replica of some statue or a yarn bracelet that I don’t want (and boy do they persevere!). The more popular an attraction is, the more difficult it is to keep it special. If you don’t regulate the tourism you will have a lot of people quickly overrun beautiful scenery and not much will be left for future generations to enjoy.
There is a lot to say about sustainable tourism, but I will leave that for another post. When I hear about how the Inca Trail limits the number of tourists who can hike every year, I know that we are making strides in preserving the beautiful earth and hopefully it will be around for future enjoyment. I know there are a lot of great travelers out there making a change and lessening their footprint while they travel.
Anyways, when I travel you will see me both on and off the beaten path. I will be there taking photos of the big and the beautiful that the country is known for, but I will always sneak off on the road less traveled in search of new experiences and adventure. It’s important to remember that when you travel, it’s not for anyone but yourself. Go where you want to go, because one person’s tourist trap may be another’s life changing experience.
Do you follow the path previous travelers have taken…or do you create your own?