Now as you all know I have been a long-term traveller for several years, I have slept in crappy hostels, in three storey bunk beds (scary), on buses, in bus stops, in airports, on cargo boat decks, on sandy sofas, on the beach, with strangers (ahem), the list goes on…we are poor because we choose to explore as many places we can, travel isn’t cheap and so we make sacrifices. That is our choice. But that isn’t the ONLY choice and because we are all beautifully different it doesn’t mean it’s the best way either. Sure, ‘our way’ is fun and daring and you feel part of a community, making friends left, right and centre, falling in ‘love’ every couple of weeks, it’s fucking awesome in that sense but as we get older things do change (for most of us anyway). You start to crave comfort, you know, small things like bed sheets without stains and pillows without lumps, fresh towels, proper cutlery. You’ve developed a taste for real wine instead of goon, medium rare, perfectly seasoned steaks instead of penne pasta, you can’t even look at a packet of supernoodles and beans on toast is now reserved for hangovers rather than being a staple meal. Yes my friends, I am sticking up for the holidaymakers because I think I am turning into one!
There is an odd judgemental vibe within the travelling community when it comes to ‘holidaymakers’ – those who visit places for a week or two or “tourists”, if you will. Even the word ‘tourist’ has so many connotations, in my not-so-secretly-judgemental head I think of ‘Brits abroad’, those who go to a tropical island only to spend all day and night in the British/Irish/Welsh/Scottish pub, fall asleep on the beach wasted and wake up red raw at noon the next day, roam the streets shouting football chants on stag/hen parties, you know who I mean – and I get it, it’s annoying, you think it’s disrespectful to the locals and they should vacation somewhere else. But really, who are we to say that they can’t behave in that way? Everyone enjoys themselves differently and a holiday whether long or short-term is all about escaping your everyday life, let loose, relax and be happy.
For example, I have turned my nose up at Seminyak for so many years, branding it ‘too touristy’, saying things like: ‘this isn’t proper Bali’, ‘they may as well stay in Australia’, ‘there’s an Accessorize WTF?’, ‘STARBUCKS!!!’ Honestly, I despised everything about it.
Maybe it’s because I am 30 now but I am definitely a lot more accepting of people’s choices. If they want to shop at a mall rather than a local market then so be it, you can’t stop them and all that hate is only living inside of you. And anyway, all of those tourists spend WAY more than us travellers so surely that can only be a good thing?
So I say; embrace people’s choices. Being a long-term traveller is amazing but it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, you have to give up a lot of comfort and some people simply don’t want that and that should be fine. Be honest, if you had a stash of hard earned cash sitting in your bank account would you still be sleeping in a bunk bed and using a bucket for a loo?
Now, I am not saying that I will be a stereotypical Brit abroad, come on now, I haven’t had a funny turn! However, circumstances being as they are, I will have to take shorter holidays, I work full-time now like a grown up, in an office and everything, so this is the way it has to be for me and I am totally cool with that (for now).
What does the word ‘tourist’ conjure up in your mind? I am keen to explore this taboo further, comment below or on my insta @theclevernessofyou
p.s. I am not condoning litter, pollution, football chants, violence, drunken behaviour or drug abuse. Just to be clear.