Tried and tested or trendsetting travel – going your own way

I love taking travel advice from people. Whenever I’m off to a new place, I’m completely attuned to hearing recommendations for places to eat, local gems I should check out, and the best ways to beat the queues.

I’m also a fiend for TripAdvisor. I won’t always plan before I get there, but if I’m deciding where to go for dinner, I’ll happily pop on to see what looks interesting.

As a result, I’ve had some of the best meals of my life, been to the coolest bars, not paid for entry to sights thanks to tips from fellow travellers, and taken in some of the best views around.

There are some people who are extremes – sticklers for ticking everything off out of the lonely planet guide, who plan their trips to the minute and kilometer, who have done all their research before they arrive and hit the ground running.

Walking the well beaten traveller path – knowing where you are going, what you are eating and things you will be seeing – is tried and tested and (hopefully) therefore worth experiencing; it’s a comforting way to travel. Someone else has done all the work for you, and you’re reaping the benefits of their toils.

But one of the most rewarding things about travel is the joy of discovery. Wandering around and losing yourself in streets, coming across local delicacies in some hidden market, finding a unique and amazing bargain in a dinky little store in the middle of nowhere, happening out of the shrubs on a hike and being rewarded with a vista of jungle valley in front of you.

Going your own way can lead to frustration when you end up in places you can’t seem to find your way out of, when your pigeon Spanish / French / Portugese / Cantonese just doesn’t quite communicate what you need, when the forest trail just does not seem to end and you’re running out of water!

But inevitably, when you come out the other end, you have stories to tell, recommendations to make that no one else has, and you, the trend setter, can smugly revel in the knowledge that you bucked the travel guides and discovered gems that on one else has yet to happen upon.

In the end, it doesn’t really matter which your preferred way of travel is – but ensuring you are flexible will make sure you enjoy yourself a lot more. Not getting too hung up on doing absolutely everything on your tick list, to the detriment of just being able to lose yourself to discovering new things, will mean you are more relaxed – and missing out on eating at that particular restaurant because they have shut down for the week you are there, won’t send you into a paroxysm of despair.

Being open to taking some advice from other travellers will mean you don’t end up on missing out on some amazing experiences you would have otherwise skipped just because you didn’t want to do what the “tourists” do.

We are all out exploring the world in whatever way we know best, because we’re interested in finding out more about other cultures, other places, and other people. Being able to learn from each other is a privilege, and we should count ourselves lucky to have the opportunity to do so. And whichever way you go, we all want to be part of the experience!

Are you a tried and tested traveller, or a trendsetter?

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