Month: August 2014

Thoughts on being an Ordinary Tourist

I love to travel.

For the past few years I have been fascinated by Chris Guillebeau’s blog, The Art of Non-Conformity. Last year, he met his goal of travelling to every country in the world in just ten years. Amazing. In addition, he’s turned his journey into an entire career that now focuses on helping people create unconventional lives and businesses.

The internet if full of travel blogs about people who are leaving everything behind to travel full time, and sites that tell you the best way to travel (for example, how to travel with just one carry on bag). An entire industry has grown around “travel hacking” that will help you navigate all the points systems and frequent flyer programs to travel for free, or as close to free as possible.

It is easy to get lost in all that advice and feel that, unless you are doing something very special, being a regular tourist is not as valuable as all the cool things people on the internet are doing.

I consider myself to be an ordinary tourist. I pick a place, and I go. Sometimes I manage to squeeze everything into carry on, and sometimes I check my suitcase (and when I do I don’t stress out about it or feel like a failure). I shop around for the best deal I can find, but I’ve never spent the time to figure out how to fly someplace for free on points. I often do all of the planning and book places to stay myself, because I like that part of travelling and it is part of the fun for me, although sometimes I take a tour or get a travel agency to help.

I am curious about the world, even if I’m not going to make travel the focus of my life. I enjoy going on vacation, and I like to come home too.

I am interested in exploring this perspective more. My premise is simple: I believe – and know from experience – that being an ordinary tourist can lead to extraordinary experiences, if you travel with curiosity and a sense of openness. I think you can have life altering experiences while travelling, even if you don’t want to quit your job and travel full time (and if you do, go for it!). I plan to explore this idea more during the coming months as I think about past trips and embark on new ones.

Until then, happy travels.

Thank you for reading! I love it when people stop by to say hi in the comments. All kind and thoughtful comments are welcome. Have a story about an extraordinary travel experience? I’d like to hear that too.