These days it’s easy to get the sense that there are just no more blanks on the map. And if there were, then a specialist travel agency is more than likely the first person you will meet to fill in the blanks.
Mass tourism, cheaper flights, and globalization are all to blame. Travel is big business and the very things that make it easier for us also mean it’s easier for everyone else. But we want authenticity when we travel. We want the real thing: to step outside of our comfort zone and connect with other people’s lives and cultures, and ways of life.
We want to learn something about ourselves and our place in the world. We want to taste the food, learn the customs and talk to the people, to lose ourselves, at least for a little while. This is fine if you can afford it. It sounds fun. But whatever way you spin it, it’s not particularly real or original. Because a truly authentic travel experience is unexpected and for the most part unrepeatable.
At least that is what I have learned in my travels around 65 or more countries. It’s the unplanned and unforeseen experiences I have got the most from. But they didn’t just happen. I like my plans. I certainly always have one. The difference being I’ve just learned to make a conscious effort to ‘go with the flow’ and embrace the unknown.
One of the things I love most about traveling is that it reminds me just how fundamentally good people are. And talking to them is crucial to unlocking the genuine and authentic in travel. To be honest, instead of bemoaning the evils of tourism I should really be delighting in the advantages of the Internet age because plenty of opportunities to connect with real locals now exist.
It is my believe that the longer you stay in one place, the more you will discover, the more friends you will make, and the more authentic your experiences will be. Bottom line, when you are on the road, the only person who decides what direction you are going to take is you. That’s the real joy of travel, the exhilarating feeling that you are free. Free to go where you want, talk with whom you wish, and experience as much as you can.
If you want to have authentic travel experiences, then travel authentically. Step outside your comfort zone every so often, feel your heart rate race a little, and open your mind.