Tag Archives: best

The Best and Worst Kinds of Tourism

The Best

  • Getting off the tourist track. Often this only requires a few steps, but finding the right ones can be difficult.
  • Eating what the local people eat, street food, what is fresh, or what is recommended by your server.
  • Free coat checks in museums.
  • Free wi-fi at McDonald’s.
  • Morning markets with fresh local ingredients sold directly by farmers.
  • Meeting local people who don’t want to sell us something.
  • Meeting travelers and sharing experiences.
  • The kindness of strangers.
  • Talking with children who think we’re something exotic.
  • Picnics with wine.
  • Watching the sun set while talking with a loved one.
  • Learning about the history, art, and culture of the places we’re visiting.
  • Walking randomly through a city to absorb its ambiance.
  • Enjoying coffee at a sidewalk café and watching the world go by.

The Worst

  • Carrying around an iPad (which is fine), but then holding it up to use it as a camera.
  • Audio guides turned up so loud that those nearby can’t hear themselves think.
  • Churches that charge for admission. The reason they built these grand monuments in the first place was to attract people to the faith. In general I give these a miss, unless there is a compelling reason to visit (e.g. Rome).
  • Churches that provide free admission for the faithful, only to sequester them in a tiny area, while the majority of the church is overrun by tourists.
  • People who talk in churches, requiring periodic announcements on loudspeakers, “Ssssssssssssss….. Silencioooo. No talking please”. Although talking can distract people at prayer, I’m sure that these amplified admonitions, like an ethereal voice from above, have the same effect.
  • People who take photos in churches when it is forbidden.
  • People who dress inappropriately in churches.
  • 17 countries in 12 days
  • Being forced to exit through the gift shop
  • Charging money to use a bathroom. Especially the gas stations that charge a hefty fee rather than a token amount, then in false compensation provide a gift certificate not quite large enough to buy anything in their shop, almost requiring one to spend even more money. Who knew that elimination could be a marketing opportunity?
  • Having to register or show identification to use the Internet anywhere in Italy due to terrorism paranoia.
  • An Italian pizza in Venice topped with French fries and segments of hot dog.
  • “I don’t know what it is Martha, but git a picture of me with it anyhow”

Things we like about travel

In addition to the challenges associated with extended travel, there are a lot of terrific things also. We want to highlight some of these also, in case they’re not obvious from our stories, to keep things in perspective. So here they are in no particular order…

  • Spectacular locations – From the deserts of Jordan and the forests of Uganda to the plains of the Serengeti and the peaks of the Himalayas.
  • Amazing experiences – Many of these we’ve recounted in the blog, and others we’ll share when we return.
  • Meeting other travelers – We’ve met some interesting people along the way and made some friends.
  • Meeting local people – Opportunities for this are more limited than we’d like. We try to find opportunities for this whenever possible, like eating in the restaurants where locals eat, traveling on local transport, etc.
  • Interacting with the children – Diane has a lot of fun playing with local children who generally haven’t been conditioned to fear strangers like in North America.

  • Continuous summer – Since we’re traveling in hot countries, it’s always warm, except when we deliberately go to colder places. A by-product of this is that we spend more time outside in nature.
  • Accomplishment – We’re doing some things that we’ve wanted to do for a long time and achieving the things we choose for ourselves on this journey, all while overcoming the challenges associated with traveling independently in the Third World.
  • Learning about and experiencing rich and diverse cultures – We’ve learned a lot about the countries and the people where we’ve traveled, including their customs and religions, and also about the homelands of some other travelers.
  • The food – tasting the different cuisines, especially in India.

  • Things are so interesting – Every day is a new adventure. Even if we haven’t planned anything, every day is interesting. Just wandering the streets is usually fascinating.
  • Time to read, reflect, and plan – finding time for these can sometimes be difficult when things get busy at home. Although these should be a priority in our lives, they tend to get displaced with more urgent things.
  • The cost of things compared to Canada – We have the opportunity to see and do some amazing things at prices which, although high by local standards, are cheap by Canadian norms. Rooms in India are basic, but typically about $10 Canadian (C) per night. Food is also cheaper, and even a nice meal with seafood and beer costs about $10C for both of us. If we eat local food, the quality of which is generally very good in India, in a local restaurant, it can be as little as $2C for both of us.
  • Cheap beer – About $2-3C for 2 bottles, and we’ve heard it’s even cheaper in South-East Asia!
  • Life seems less complicated – We rely only on the possessions we carry on our backs. As a result, it’s not difficult to choose what to wear each day. There are very few commitments to keep, so we have great flexibility on how we spend our time.
  • No commuting – our day starts wherever we happen to be.
  • We walk every day – except when we choose not to.
  • We waste a lot less time watching television
  • Awareness – we’re more aware of our surroundings, and we take delight in the small things.
  • Being together – To be honest, before leaving home, we weren’t sure how we would handle being together 24×7. We’re pleased to say that things are going very well. We still have disagreements, but no more frequently than we did at home. We are closer now than before we left.
  • There is no grass to cut and someone else washes the dishes!