Has your travel style changed at all over the years? Mine sure has.
Life (sort of) dictates that us human beings will grow, change, and evolve over time. My circumstances, environment, and the choices I’ve made have shaped my personality, helped me to hone my tastes, and allowed me to finger my likes and dislikes. With that said, in the last few years I have noticed a distinct shift in the way that I travel. The change has been gradual, subtle even, but it is there. Read on to see why my travel style has changed:
1. I don’t need to see everything.
Long gone are the days where I would run around with a long list of attractions and monuments that I absolutely had to experience: back in the day I wanted to do and see EVERYTHING. I literally wanted to wring a city dry of all it had; it made me feel good to methodically check the items off my list as I went along. Now? I am comfortable with skipping out on visiting that umpteenth Egyptian temple or European cathedral — I’ve seen enough in my lifetime to last me light years into the afterlife. Nowadays I’m good with doing an abridged itinerary, seeing the major stuff and skipping what I deem extraneous.
2. I eschew going to new destinations so I can revisit old favourites.
My thirst for “abroad” has taken me to over 60 countries, but these days I’m less interested in getting a new passport stamp and more interested in deepening my love affair with and knowledge of the places I thoroughly enjoy. Don’t get me wrong, I love exploring, the smells and excitement of traversing new frontiers. But more and more I am feeling the pull of going back to places that I know make me feel good, places where I’ve already cultivated memories. Case in point: I’ve been to Paris 9 times.
3. I prefer slower travel and cultural immersion to sightseeing and city-hopping.
Less is more for me these days in terms of how much or how quickly I move from one city to the next: I like to travel slow(er), savour destinations, and take time to absorb my environment. Last year I did a trip through Scandinavia with Busabout that took me through 5 countries in 8 days; while exhilarating, the trip was exhausting for the sheer speed with which we tore through cities. As a result, I felt like I didn’t get to know them at all. On the other hand, my 5-week trip to Guatemala a few summers ago allowed me to get intimately acquainted with the country and culture. I set up a home of sorts in the colonial city of Antigua, taking an intensive 2-week Spanish course there, and then used it as a base while I explored the other pueblos further afield. Before, I deployed a hectic travel pace to keep boredom at bay, but now I find myself taking in destinations more slowly and less rigidly wherever possible. Low-key activities like aimless strolls around town squares suit my slow travel mentality perfectly. Even on a weekend trip, where I’m pressed for time, I take extended coffee breaks, contenting myself with sitting peacefully and people watching.
4. Food is more important than ever.
This may be a result of my funky stomach and propensity to be struck by food poisoning, but now food holds a very important place in my travels. Before, I contented myself with all that was cheap and cheerful — quality and taste were low on the totem pole of priorities. Now, Liebling and I pore over restaurant reviews on TripAdvisor before/during our trip and ask for recommendations from friends on where we can eat well.
5. I’m no longer a budget traveller, particularly when it comes to accommodation and food.
Years ago, I wondered whether I was too old for hostels. Nowadays, the answer is loud and clear: I’ve outgrown hostels, and in many ways have outgrown budget travel. I won’t spend money indiscriminately (and like a good deal as much as anyone), but comfort and pleasure are high priorities on my trips — a drastic change from before, where I slept in 20-person dorms and ate bread and cheese for a week just to save a few bucks. I don’t want to skimp or live on the bare mininum any more. I want to stay in nice hotels and eat quality food. (Does this sound superficial? Sue me.) Likewise, I don’t want to want to miss out on integral parts of a country’s culture or history because I don’t have enough money or am too cheap to spring for the entrance fee to the museum. I’m no longer a student on a student budget, and the way I travel reflects that. And perhaps more tellingly, if I don’t have the means to travel somewhere in the way that I’d like, I’d prefer to hold off on travelling to that place until I can afford to see it in the fashion I intend. In real terms, that means trips to costly destinations like New Zealand are on the back-burner, at least for now.
Has your travel style changed over the years? How so?