Be brave, travel your way

Baby boomers were born to be rebels, but have subsequent tech-savvy generations left us in the shade?

These musings started at the Luxor Obelisk – the 23-metre ancient Egyptian needle at the centre of the Place de la Concorde in Paris. I wasn’t there but my son was, with arms raised and sort of cradling the structure for the camera – but missing. It appeared to be one of those copycat photo opportunities that had gone wrong. What a wasted opportunity, I thought.

But then I was set straight.

Apparently, I was told, this is what travellers are doing the world over. Such as this chap, who had seemingly misjudged his photo in front of the Eiffel Tower then put out the word to social media for a tech fix. The online community sprang into action – and what amazingly talented people are out there!

There are similar parodies of photos at the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the Louvre Pyramid, the real pyramids. In fact, name a classic landmark and there will be mostly hilarious memes.

It’s a rebellion of sorts, a refusal to follow the flock. Until hundreds of thousands of others follow that lead and turn into sheep themselves.

Which begs the question, how to step off the beaten track and feel as confident as possible that you are on the journey you want. How do you find the track less travelled?

I’m not the most experienced traveller, but I do like the backstreets and likelihood of enjoying a more authentic experience. Here are my suggestions. 

  1. Talk/communicate with the locals.
  2. Dress like a local when appropriate (this obviously could be hard in certain countries).
  3. Look beyond the online reviews and eat where the locals eat – and what they eat.
  4. Ditch the more mainstream guided tours and take a street tour.
  5. Stay in a house – even a homestay – rather than in a hotel.
  6. Take public transport. You can only get lost.
  7. When you do need an Uber or taxi, quiz the driver.
  8. Treat locals and their town/city/country with respect.
  9. Learn some key words and phrases. The investment is usually well received.
  10. Travel in the low season when the locals may be in a much better mood.
  11. Don’t be in a rush. Add as much extra time into your stays as you can.
  12. Be prepared to wander; walk as much as you can.
  13. Be brave, which doesn’t mean being stupid.

Insert some daring into your holiday and you may end up with some of the best memories yet. Top of my list:

  • spending two weeks in New York in January and seeing one of the biggest snowfalls in decades
  • watching NBA team the Phillies play at home in Philadelphia and heading to the stadium bar with the fans across a snow-covered paddock in -18C temperatures
  • doing a street food tour in Hanoi in Vietnam and being offered a plastic bowl in a curtained cubicle next to the tiny kitchen in lieu of a toilet
  • the singer in a packed carriage on the underground
  • chatting with locals in New York where the custom is to sit up at the bar.

What have been your most memorable travel experiences? Are you happy to create your own adventure? Do you have reservations?  

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Written by Janelle Ward

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