I really hate to admit this, but I am an iconic traveler. I see the classics, the places that photographically define a destination. The places where, if you had never been to the country, you would still know exactly where I was. When I was at Yosemite, I hiked Half Dome. When in Paris, I went straight to the Eiffel Tower. When in Cairo, my first stop was the Sphinx and pyramids.
Why I Do This:
The classics are huge tourist destinations for a reason. They are awesome. It is safe to say that if millions of people travel every year to see the same landmark, it is something incredible to see. With limited resources and vacation time, I want to maximize the “ridiculously sweet” in my travel experience. For better or worse, the iconic places have the highest probability of doing so. Now, they aren’t the only places I visit, or even want to visit, but they certainly are my starting point. I feel a pressure to cross off the classics before pursuing the lesser known locations.
Why It Drives Me Crazy:
Clearly, the classics do not define a culture, a country, or a city. Although I’ve been to Tikal, I do not know Guatemala. I want to understand the people and what gives the culture a pulse. You can’t grasp that in two weeks. My “jack of all trades personality” also applies to how I travel.
This most clearly resonates when I meet people in other countries who have been to the United States. They visited New York City, Washington D.C., or (God-forbid) Disneyworld, and feel that they have seen the country. They haven’t. At the same time, if the tables were turned, where would I go? I’d probably do the same.
If someone went to Pittsburgh and visited the Warhol, they certainly wouldn’t understand the culture, what it means to bleed black and gold. I feel like I did that with the Louvre!
When I Broke Free…and Loved It:
Sometimes I skip the classics, and love it. One example stands out. I was conducting field research in Peru but had a day to be a tourist in Cuzco. When faced with the decision to see either Machu Picchu or several other ruins throughout the Sacred Valley, I chose the other ruins. I know that I will visit Peru again, and whomever I am with will likely want to see Machu Picchu. The ruins were incredible, and I am very happy with my decision.
Your Travel Personality:
Can you relate? What is your travel personality? I find this amusing, but several quizzes exist online. Let me know your travel style, I’m curious!
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