In general my philosophy on travel is simple. All travel is good travel. However, this doesn’t mean I think all forms of traveling are equal. I’d put traveling to the pyramids in Egypt at a much higher level than going to somewhere less exciting like Wyoming. I’d say everyone else probably would agree with me. But even if most people would agree with me on that one point, I find that many others disagree with me on many other aspects of traveling.
Confusing Travel Behaviors
I don’t want to seem harsh to anyone who travels for any of these purposes. If this is your preferred way of traveling, than I have no place to make any negative judgments about you. However, this doesn’t mean that I find these traveling behaviors any less confusing and counter to what I think traveling means.
So with that out of the way, let me introduce six traveling behaviors I just don’t understand.
1. Going to the same place repeatedly
When I was in Costa Rica, I met a couple on their sixth visit to Costa Rica. They didn’t own a house there and they had no cultural link or invested interest in the country other than tourism. Travel there had just become habitual.
It’s not that I don’t like Costa Rica. I recommend it to anyone traveling through Central America. It’s that the world is so huge and there is so much to see. When you keep going to the same place over and over again, you’re confining yourself and missing out on going to other places. For example, they could have used one of their Costa Rica trips to see Machu Picchu or Ireland instead.
2. Lying on the beach
If there is one stereotype Americans have of vacations, it is of finding a beach paradise to lounge around in all day long. While not all American travelers actively seek this out, enough of them do to make it frustratingly common. Their ultimate goal is to find a relaxing chair on the beach facing the ocean and just sit.
I have nothing against relaxing on the beach. In fact, I’ve spent some time relaxing on the beach with a drink or two just watching waves come in. However, there is one massive difference between how I do it and how these people do it. I do it for maybe an hour at most. They want to do it every day for about a week.
It just makes me ask one big question. How do you stop from getting bored? When I relax on the beach it is because I’m tired from doing other things or have some time before doing something else. I’ve never been able to do it for long periods of time. I just don’t understand the appeal of sitting on the beach all day long.
Just recently an acquaintance of mine told me about her upcoming travels. Her plan was to spend two weeks in Ireland. After a couple of days in Dublin, she was going straight into Northern Ireland to spend the rest of her time there playing golf.
I have nothing against playing golf. Nor do I have anything against playing it in another country. What I don’t understand is traveling half-way around the world just to play it everyday for two weeks.
You could travel somewhere closer to home and do that. Since you’re spending most of your time on the golf course and not actually walking around seeing the country, it would make more sense. It’s not as if golf courses are hard to come by and it would save you money in the long run.
4. Bird watching
I look at bird-watching the same way I do as golfing. It would be fine in small doses, but some people spend their entire time doing it.
Admittedly if I was on a bus that pulled over so the passengers could spot a beautiful endangered bird, I would eagerly get out my camera to take a photo. But if he pulled off to the side to show us an unremarkable bird simply because it is local, I would become bored quickly. I just think there are so many more things worth traveling for.
5. Sporting events
Besides some sporting events such as The Olympics, there aren’t any sporting events I would actually travel to see. To my surprise, many people fly to see ordinary everyday games. For example, I knew someone who flew to Chicago to see a baseball game for a team he can easily watch at home any time during the season.
His justification was to see the Chicago ballpark. Plus, it was a match-up between two teams that rarely get to play against each other. I can definitely see the attraction; however, he had no interest in doing or seeing anything else.
Since I had been to Chicago many times before, I tried to make recommendations on things to see. He simply had no interest. His plan was to fly in, see the game, have a beer with friends afterward where they would presumably talk about the game and then head home. I couldn’t believe that he wouldn’t want to see parts of the city while he was there. Yet the goal of traveling to a city just to see a game (and not do anything else) is something I consistently come across.
6. Only doing cruises/tours
Let me make something perfectly clear: I don’t have anything against cruises or tours. In fact, I’ll probably do a cruise at least once or twice in order to see a string of places I probably wouldn’t normally get to see.
What I don’t understand is how some people rely on this as their only source of traveling. I imagine the attraction of traveling by cruises or tours is due to safety and ease of use. However, the strict time frames you’re under don’t make sense to me. If you’re on a cruise through the Mediterranean, you might only have one day in Athens. And if I want to spend more time there, I’m out of luck because the ship is soon leaving.
I realize that you don’t have to worry about food or accommodations because they’re all provided for. But finding somewhere to stay or eat at has given me some of my greatest memories while traveling. I’d be sacrificing amazing experiences for comfort. And that just isn’t something I’d be willing to do.
Are there any travel behaviors you don’t understand? Any of these that I mention make perfect sense to you?
photo credit: Thomas Hawk