When I first started traveling, there was no internet, no smartphones, even the word “igital” referred to a large frame computer company. We had to rely on printed guide books, tourist offices, and travel agents.
Today, however, there is more information at our fingertips than we could ever want. Every tourist office has a presence online, planning and making reservations is done completely on the computer and every other person traveling full time has a blog. I’ve been spending quite a bit of time looking them over and I’ve noticed a pattern: they all sound the same.
Here’s what I’ve concluded: The average blog writer is in their 20′s, is trying to spend no more than $20-50/day, doesn’t care where they stay as long as it’s cheap and in most cases a hostel where they can meet other like minded people, doesn’t care what they eat as long as it’s cheap, and saves as much money as possible to go drinking every night. They all seem to follow the same Lonely Planet itinerary and spend most of their time in countries surrounding the equator as these have the lowest costs. (Thailand being the new full time traveler’s mecca. )
They all talk about traveling light meaning having a large backpack weighing no more than 25 lbs. They all want their readers to know that they are “travelers” and not “tourists.” The difference? A “tourist” is someone who travels to a place, stays a few days, may take a guided tour of the local sights, and buys some souvenirs. A “traveler” is someone who travels to a place for a few days, sees the sights on their own and doesn’t buy souvenirs. I don’t have the heart to tell them they are also tourists. You see, when I was growing up in New York City and spent time in Manhattan, we’d see lots of visitors. We didn’t classify them as “tourists” or “travelers,” they were all “tourists.” When I worked in the travel industry, everyone not living locally was deemed a “tourist.”
They all call themselves “travel writers” because well, they do write about travel on their blogs. Many are trying to do online work to help pay for their travels.
And they all think what they’re doing is unique.
I hate to break it to them, but slightly over 30 years ago, when I first got out of college, some of my friends were planning to travel before starting work. They all got backpacks, bought the Lonely Planet guides, and took off. There was no internet, no blogs and they planned to get temporary local work to help pay for their travels.
Don’t get me wrong. For someone on a limited budget, but has a desire to see the world, this is the way to go. But does everyone have to play follow the leader? What if you want to do something different? I know I do.
What if I prefer hotels to hostels, feel I can learn a lot by taking locally guided tours, and don’t want to go out drinking every night? What if want to wear something besides jeans, short and t-shirts? What if I don’t want to travel with a full size backpack but prefer a convertible bag instead? What if, occasionally, I want to take in a great restaurant rather than just cook my meals in my room? Can I still be a “traveler” or do I now become a “tourist.”
I don’t mean to sound harsh about these kids who are very eager to “teach” others what they know. The best way to learn is through other people’s experience. They’re doing just that and I commend them for it.
But there also seems to be a lack of websites that talk about long term travel the way I want to do it (see above.)
And that’s what I plan to offer. I will share my planning, reasonings, ups, downs, mistakes, discoveries and experiences along the way. I’m hoping that it will inspire many of you to pack your “one bag” and set forth.
Travel is a continuing learning experience. Every day I travel, I learn something new. That’s what makes it so joyous–no two days are ever alike.
Another benefit for some of you is my “travel goods” closet. I collect quite a bit of travel “stuff” thanks to this website and will be putting much of it up for sale. During the next 2-3 weeks, I plan to go through much of it and offer it at low prices. All the money raised goes towards the upkeep of this website. (And I want to get them up to give you plenty of time for holiday shopping in case there’s a traveler on your list. And Hanukkah is the same days as Thanksgiving this year. That’s the U.S. Thanksgiving.)
If there is anything you want in particular that I’ve reviewed on the site, send me a note. (Don’t ask about the Tom Bihn or Eagle Creek bags as they are not going. )