How to Master the Art of Interest Traveling Amy Baker May 17 Features, Tips 10 Comments Avoiding the Clichés When planning a trip abroad, it’s always a good idea to buy the appropriate travel guides to read up and become familiar with your destination. Understanding how to say your “please” and “thank you’s” in the native language, knowing the current exchange rate and the likelihood of falling into a classic tourist trap are important tools to have when you’re on the road. However, a point of caution to those who love to soak in the local culture, develop a real sense of the native community and have a completely unique experience; to genuinely enjoy your trip and come home with a lifetime of great memories, there is one thing you must absolutely avoid and it is sometimes known as: THE TOP TEN’S. Top ten’s can be defined by the following; repetitive, clichéd, crowded and virtually over-done. Whether it’s Copenhagen’s Little Mermaid or the New York Statue of Liberty, top ten’s come in all shapes, colors and sizes. That’s not to say that these attractions can’t be enjoyed at all. But to Google “top ten things to do in London” and plan your entire itinerary solely around those sites, would be a complete letdown. The lure behind a majority of the top ten’s is based on recycled hype. Reading about The Reclining Buddha covered in gold leaf in Bangkok and experiencing it first-hand with 200 other sweaty, rushed and cranky tourists are two completely different things. These types of attractions are lackluster upon first-hand experience because of the sheer volume of people who had the exact same idea as you. What Moves You? © lil_miss_whit Interest Traveling You know when someone see’s a gift and exclaims “this has so and so’s name ALL over it”? Well, I believe that in order to truly enjoy your travels abroad, you should organize your itinerary and points of interest to have your name all over them. Planning a trip that caters specifically to your hobbies or curiosities is a rewarding, enjoyable and extraordinary adventure. Having the opportunity to travel is a gift, so why not make it all about you and not the other millions who are embarking on their own endeavors. Here are some rules of thumb to successfully accomplish the art of ”˜interest traveling’. Figure out what you like to do at home Wherever your interests lay, focus on what makes you tick and what activities of yours can be applied abroad. What are your interests, hobbies and past-times? Are you a talented rock climber, architectural aficionado, wild-animal devotee or baked goods connoisseur? Wherever your interests lay, focus on what makes you tick and what activities of yours can be applied abroad. If you claim to be a Canadian luge addict, maybe that isn’t the most applicable special interest to pursue abroad, but more general ventures are the way to go. For example, if you love graffiti, try to find out where the best neighborhood is for local street art and maybe even catch some writers in the act. Get the scoop from travel guides, Internet forums and even ex-parts living in the areas Talk to the local people to get a good sense of in what neighborhoods you can find your points of interests, the costs attached, the level of safety and if they can put you in touch with anyone specific. Local magazines are sometimes even published in English, and those directories will often provide the exclusive on local happenings in the area on a week-to-week basis. The more research you do and the better prepared you are, the more rewarding your experience will be. Don’t be afraid to try something new As a total indie-music head, I fancy myself as an expert in the music scene. Yet, when I am traveling abroad and visiting a new city, I always push my boundaries and buy tickets to see a local indie band play, even if it might be disastrous. Allowing yourself to indulge in a foreign atmosphere while doing something you would do at home is an incredible experience, even if it means shaking things up a bit. Likewise, when traveling in South Korea, however beautiful the temples where, it seemed to be getting a tad déjÃ -vu. On my second day, instead of visiting another place of worship, I opted to go second-hand shopping and check out local Korean vintage wear, something I would have done with friends back in Toronto. Savor it while you can Even though you are making a conscious effort to avoid the top ten’s of a new place, don’t avoid taking in the new sights, smells and tastes all together. Walking around, tasting the local delicacies, grabbing a drink at a local bar and even get into a friendly debate with some of the locals, are genuinely gratifying experiences. When doing things you love to do in foreign environments, you are bound to expand your social circle of friends and maybe even spark a travel romance, so who knows how these people will shape and influence you in the long run. In essence, when I write cater to your interests, I don’t mean to stay inside your hostel and watch MTV for the entire duration of your trip. It’s all about finding a perfect harmony between the foreign and the familiar. Bazaar, Bangladesh © FrancisTyers A Moveable Feast As Ernest Hemingway once wrote with such eloquence: If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast. Make your trip a moveable feast by exploring every corner of the culture so that later in life, you’ll look back on your adventure and glow with satisfaction. Just as you would put thought into how you want to spend your weekend, take time to figure out how you want to spend your time abroad. Don’t rely on the tourist books to plan the perfect itinerary for you, but take matters into your own hands and create the ideal plan that like-minded friends would drool over. Mastering the art of special interest traveling may take time, but be sure to record and track what tools helped to make a trip very successful and what to avoid for the next time around. Traveling is about expanding new horizons while learning more about yourself. Absorb everything around you, stimulate your senses but most importantly do so while holding onto your core “self”. 10 Responses Tweets that mention How to Master the Art of Interest Traveling -- Topsy.com October 20 […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Travel Nightlife , kevin chan. kevin chan said: rt @vagabondish How to Master the Art of Interest Traveling http://bit.ly/3yRovF #travel […] Reply Dan October 20 I agree, it’s a great way to get yourself doing some research and finding places and things to do that are of interest to you but will no doubt get you doing stuff that isn’t on the top ten lists. I wrote along the same lines in a post about themed travel http://voyagner.com/traveling-with-a-mission-why-themed-travel-can-make-your-trip-more-memorable/ the post was inspired by Tim Ferris and Kevin Rose’ trip to China to find the best tea. Reply Yosef Hillel October 21 Who is this Amy Baker? Where did she come from? After reading her stuff I am convinced she is the best travel writer to come along in a long time. Reply Ken October 21 My style is too mix some main sights, while going walkabout and getting a feel for place. Recently in Istanbul, I asked a hostel bloke about a place. He said there wasn’t anything touristy there, just regular Turkish life. That’s what I wanted to see and went. And it’s good to have done some research and have plans, but don’t carve them is stone. You’ll hear the pro and cons of places from other travellers along the way. Reply Travel News and Stories for 10/22/2009 : Kathika Travel Website October 22 […] How to Master the Art of Interest Traveling When planning a trip abroad, it’s always a good idea to buy the appropriate travel guides to read up and become familiar with your destination. Understanding how to say your “please” and “thank you’s” in the native language, knowing the current exchange rate and the likelihood of falling into a classic tourist trap are important tools to have when you’re on the road. http://www.vagabondish.com […] Reply Consume & Update: Interesting Travel, 1 Question and Road Trip | nomadderwhere October 25 […] is a travelzine I keep my eye on and with good reason, as this week they posted How to Master the Art of Interesting Travel. I’m hooked! Amy Baker describes interesting travel in a way that makes sense, thanks to the […] Reply Twitted by travelfish November 17 […] This post was Twitted by travelfish […] Reply Carol November 22 Hi!, there is any chance to get ” lil_miss_whit” ‘s e-mail(the photographer of “What Moves You?”) I really need it, i’ll be very happy if you have it kisses! Carol (from chile) Reply Mike May 18 One of my favorites is checking out the local food markets in new countries and identifying new fruits and vegetables that may exist. I also am never surprised by how meat and seafood is handled in some countries. Most of them have small food vendors that can be sampled, if they look safe to eat. Reply Yan Pritzker May 22 Amy, nice read! I love doing a ton of research and finding all the best off the beaten path places when I go. I’m planning a trip to Tokyo now and have ended up with quite an interesting set of links dumped into a google doc :) I’m also thinking of working on an app to make travel planning a lot easier, especially for people who love to do research and find different places from blogs, travel sites, etc. I’m looking to get some feedback on the idea and learn from the expertise of other really passionate travelers. If you or any of your readers want to help shape the product, I’d love to talk to you. It’s just in concept stages right now – please feel free to contact me here or at [yan at pritzker dot ws] Reply Leave a Reply Cancel Reply Your email address will not be published.CommentName* Email* Website Let\'s Make Sure You\'re Human ... *Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA. 8 − = 1 Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.