It’s Okay to be a “Tourist”

Riding a camel in the Sahara desert in Morocco

Riding a camel in the Sahara Desert in 2009. Touristy? You bet. Giggle inducing, once-in-a-lifetime activity? Absolutely.

“Yeah, I would have gone there, but it’s just so touristy…” I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard someone say this in reference to a trip abroad.  In the travel community, it’s something like a badge of honor to say that you’ve actively avoided the places where other people seem to flock…

Great Wall of China? Ugh, so crowded.

Bali? Tourist hell hole.

Eiffel Tower? Why would I even…

But here’s my big question:

What’s so wrong with being a tourist?

Being a tourist means you’re going to see places that other people love, places that have history, places that are meant to be shared with locals and foreigners alike.

Some of my best memories have come from doing the cliche things abroad… Sledding down the salt mines in Austria might be something a local would sneer at, but it was an adventure. And sure, riding a camel in Morocco is thee stereotypical activity to do in North Africa, but if I hadn’t done it solely because it’s “too toursity” then I would have missed out on a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

There’s a reason tourists ride sleds and camels. It’s fun!

That being said, I will admit there is a time and a place to avoid activities abroad. If the amount of tourism has caused the original destination to be altered in some way — whether its been ruined by endless foot traffic or completely fabricated for entertainment — or if the activity is harmful in some way, then yes, I might avoid a “touristy” place. Going to the Tiger Kingdom in Chiang Mai for example is notorious for animal rights issues and a place that I plan to avoid.

But to me, the whole point of traveling is to discover amazing things about the world. And if a place is so popular that it means thousands of people travel there each year to see it, then, well…I’d like to see it too.

So before you go ahead and pass over a destination or activity because it’s “too popular,” check that hipster attitude, and give it another shot 🙂

You’re a tourist by definition. Embrace it.

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One thought on “It’s Okay to be a “Tourist”

  1. Pingback: Photo Friday: Aït Benhaddou, Morocco | Roses on the Road

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