Sometimes I like Being a Tourist Too

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Traveler vs. Tourist

It’s the Eiffel Tower for Christ’s sake. So why am I so irritated at my desire to see it up close? It’s because I don’t want to be a tourist. I don’t want to be like the other thousand people staring or queuing up to ride the elevator to the observation deck. But isn’t it one of the major reasons 13 million people flock to the city of light every single year. And almost 7 million of them visit this tower. And now, I’m one of them. So why do I feel some kind of way about it?

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  1. Sometimes I like being a tourist too
  2. Run, I hear Americans
  3. Tourist Attractions
  4. The Fear of Inauthenticity
  5. Nothing new here
  6. For Fame or Fortune
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Sometimes I like Being a Tourist

The Pont des Arts used to be the site of a tourist tradition, where visitors would attach a lock to the bridge, then throw the key into the Seine river.
Turns out the locks were removed from the bridge in 2015 after parts of it collapsed.  So the love lock I placed there 10 years ago us gone. I ‘m not sure whether I wasted my time or not.

When I first started traveling, I made sure to visit the touristy places—places that most people visit, take a selfie, and move on. Then as the years and my disgust for selfie sticks increased, I only visited the places high on my own list. And not the ones in Fodor’s, Lonely Planet or Frommer’s.

I Hear Americans– Run

It got so bad, that if I heard an American accent, I ran in the other direction. Travel guides are a great place to start. My favorites are the DK Eyewitness books (because they offer a summary that includes itineraries, maps, and history) and Rough Guides (for the off the beaten track adventures). They also include useful information like restaurants, currency, and weather.

But now, I can find all the above on the Internet from local people who know the popular destinations as well as the ones overlooked or misrepresented in the big travel guides.

crowds-tourist-attractions Sometimes I like Being a Tourist Too

Why Some People Avoid “Touristy” Attractions

Being Let Down

When we visit the most distinguished destinations on Earth, we’re more likely to feel let down. There is little to no opportunity for an out of body or life-changing opportunity. Our expectations are inflated, and so it can be hard not to walk away wondering if the tower, portrait, restaurant or view wasn’t just a tiny bit overrated.

I’ve lived this one over and over again. One of my biggest disappointments was seeing the Mona Lisa for the first time. I was able to get close to it, but I still remember how small and washed out it looks. There were so many people vying for an angle none else had. It was loud and I couldn’t wait to move on to something else.

The Fear of Inauthenticity

People avoid popular tourist attractions because they fear to be unoriginal or inauthentic. I’ve had readers follow my exact itinerary down to where I stayed, what I ate and what I did.

As the saying goes, “imitation is the highest form of flattery”. And many travelers, especially the millennial set, want to travel but are looking for an easy agenda. Unless they decide to pay my bills, I could care less about their opinion of my travel adventures. And neither should you. And that includes what goes onto your travel itinerary.

There is Nothing New to See Here

Many people avoid big tourist attractions because it has been written and photographed to death.

I beg to differ. When I traveled with my kids, I gave them the camera. What they say always differed from what I saw because we looked at from different perspectives. It’s the same thing, but different. Rather than think of tourist attractions as a forced experience with countless strangers, reframe them as one of those rare experiences in life when [we] do something that is communal in nature.

For Fame or Fortune

Some people have been fortunate to make a living as a blogger, vlogger, or Instagrammer.

However, the trend has been to do something new which also means illegal, dangerous IG Fame in staying on the beaten path. Get over it. Everyone can’t be an IG Model.

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Comments

  1. Norafiqin

    I live in Barcelona, and have been for 5.5 years now, and I absolutely love playing tourist in my city! It’s the best thing to do cos I never know what I can find.

  2. Jay Aguirre

    One thing I hate is how often people make fun of tourists! People should do what they like to do while traveling. I don’t like people that try and act superior for not being “tourists” when being a tourist is sometimes the most fun way to travel!

  3. Rosey

    I like to visit both the touristy and the not-so-touristy destinations. I think it’s fine to do both. 🙂

  4. MELANIE EDJOURIAN

    My sister likes to be both a tourist and a traveler. I, however, prefer to go somewhere warm with a beach or pool and not move for the duration other than walks on the beach. I do so much daily that holidays literally need to be very basic.

  5. Ashlee

    When I travel, it’s to experience the new things and immerse myself in the place I am. I also like taking pics and while I get it can be annoying with everyone taking selfies and not enjoying the experience, you have to decide how you’re going to enjoy your time, regardless of others.

  6. Catherine

    Interesting thoughts…I’m not much of a traveler to be honest, but I’ve always wanted to travel to Italy since that is where my family is from. For me, it’s one thing to see certain places and sights on film, it’s another seeing it with your own eyes and experiencing it for yourself. I’d love to see everything there is to see in Italy!

  7. Louise

    If I’m being honest, I’m probably more of a tourist than a traveller. But once quarantine ends, I’d definitely like to travel more!

    Louise x

    1. duffelbagspouse

      Hey— that’s me just pontificateing, lol. Honestly they are both better options than never leaving the comfort of the familiarity of your own back yard. But even if you don’t, there are amazing things to discover all around us too.

  8. Following the Rivera

    An enjoyable read, and one I can relate too. There are definite perks to just being a tourist and blending with the rest.

    1. duffelbagspouse

      Honestly its all good no matter what you do—- not you but anybody. It’s your money and naturally you can spend it whatever you want to. And no matter what something “experiential “ is bound to gind its way into your travels.

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