After a recent globetrotting adventure Eevee’s James Willis weighs up the tourist traps to the hidden gems off the beaten track.
The famous idea of finding “the road less travelled” has become so overused that it’s teetering on the brink of becoming an ironic cliché.
With the growth in tourism over the last few decades, the obsession with gap years and “finding yourself”, it’s become harder and harder to find a new, original adventure to have. For some reason, though, this seems to be what people crave.
I recently travelled around the world over just two months, covering six countries in three different continents. I didn’t have a strict plan when I started organising it. All I knew was that I wanted to see as many different places as I could, within my budget and time frame.
This ended up including the most tourist filled places imaginable: Las Vegas, Grand Canyon, LA, New York, Sydney Harbour. However, I also managed to see some less travelled parts of the world, that I expect 99% of people in my life won’t ever experience. This included trekking through a Thai rainforest, sleeping in the local hilltribe villages and spending an evening at a Rastafarian karaoke bar with a complete stranger in the middle of Belize.
Having been lucky enough to experience so much in that two month period, I can see the appeal in going “off the beaten path”. It gives you experiences that you would never have imagined back home and stories to tell people that will last a lifetime.
It’s unique and special to you when visiting these places. I suspect that any time Guatemala comes up in conversation or pub quizzes, people will look to me to enlighten them. I’m not suggesting I can but I’ll have a story or two to tell, which will be so far removed from the ordinary holidays that it will be ingrained in my mind until the day I die.
There’s a feeling of complete escape in these far away places as well. Home problems, work problems and everything else feels like a million miles away. It just slips out of the mind completely because this is about as far removed from your ordinary life as you can possibly get.
There seems to be a trend now, that people would favour these holidays over a trip to the more popular travel spots.
It’s understandable and I wouldn’t dare judge anyone who takes that approach. I wouldn’t even say they’re wrong. These adventurous holidays are amazing and sometimes even life changing.
Yet, there is still an appeal about the hot spots that is often lost in amongst the crowds of people. I got a huge kick out of spending a day at the Grand Canyon. The same goes for Hollywood and the Empire State Building.
It’s everything that you hate about tourists rolled into one place so it’s often forgotten that there is a reason these places are so popular.
As much as I loved wandering through the middle of nowhere, I think I may have gotten a bigger thrill wandering down the Las Vegas strip in the midst of an amazing night out with new friends. This was despite the leaflets handed out on every corner and the overt tourist traps.
I couldn’t imagine never getting to see the Statue of Liberty, Sydney Opera House or the Golden Gate bridge. They’ve become such iconic global features that they are just as much a part of this world as the jungles and dirt roads.
Since I’ve been back people have repeatedly asked me which part of my trip was my favourite and which country I enjoyed the most. It’s a horrible question to have to answer because I loved each place so much despite all the differences. The only way I’ve been able to answer people is by picking the places that I made the closest friends.
Honestly, I don’t care where I travel any more. All I’m interested in is getting to travel and doing it with a group of friends that I love. Regardless of whether the place is one of the most popular tourism spots or lost in the middle of nowhere, if I’m with good company, it will all be equally amazing.