Casual Tourist or Seasoned Traveler?

Casual Tourist or Seasoned Traveler?

I can never understand when I read guidebook itineraries how they can suggest you fit so much into a day…you’d have to be a miracle worker that can change opening hours, decrease travel times, somehow give all little white roads on a road map an ability to be driven (safely) at 60 mph, spend only half an hour at any destination then proclaim you’ve done it ….and after doing that numerous times, grabbing food and drink on the run, if indeed you had time, you’d be completely exhausted and realise you hadn’t enjoyed it at all. What the hell were you thinking?!

I laugh whole-heartedly at the many tourists ‘doing’ Britain, who feel they can come here for a week as part of a larger European tour, spend 3 days in the capital, grace Stratford, York and Edinburgh with their presence, then all being well elbow in a trip to the Lake District to see Wordsworth’s Dove Cottage, and Beatrix Potter’s home at Hill Top and on conclusion of this, they consider Britain “done”!

Anne Hathaway's House in Stratford, England
Anne Hathaway’s House in Stratford, England

Yet, in the 34 years of my existence – half of which I have spent extensively travelling the country, I still only feel I’ve done and seen a fraction of what Britain has to offer! And we’re tinier than most other countries!

Yes we all have our own ideas of what our bucket list contains, many of which are destinations we’ve seen glorified in film, hyped up on TV, in the press, magazines and of course on social media. They’ll be places at the far flung corners of the world that we’ll (hopefully) get to one day (after saving enough money), with the million other people doing the same thing, take crowded photos that will look just like everybody else’s and most likely proclaim “Yes we’ve done [enter destination]” I admit – I have such a bucket list too! On it are sights such as Machu Picchu and the Grand Canyon and experiences such as a Baltic cruise and anything and everything to do with Iceland!

But what I’ve learned from my travels round the UK, is the best experiences were the ones not fully planned, the ones where you detour when you see a sign that intrigues, those where you have a place to yourself off the beaten track, somewhere you can feel like only you (and maybe a small handful of others) have experienced. They’re the places you find by accident or are only discovered after some quality time has been spent in the area, reading about and talking to locals, doing what and going where the locals do, and it’s these experiences that catapult us from casual tourist to serious traveler.

You certainly won’t find me elbowing as many places from a tick list into a day’s itinerary either. I like to feel I’ve fully immersed myself in whatever/wherever is being explored. I like to soak up the atmosphere and feel like I’ve really connected with the place. I head off down the back allies in cities, eat in small family run establishments; and although I scour guidebooks, internet sites and maps, I look for the unusual and use them as a starting point for my own explorations…

York Minister from the city walls - A fabulous way to approach the Minster!
York Minister from the city walls – A fabulous way to approach the Minster!

Are you a casual tourist or a seasoned traveler? Do you agree with my views on this topic? Please drop me a line and let me know….

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