Do I travel wrong?
Is there a correct way to travel?
I would say "no, there is no correct, nor incorrect, way to travel." But sometimes it feels like I am doing it all wrong.
I have said plenty of times before that I like to travel a bit differently, it is true. I am not all that excited about the tourist spots. I do them- I mean, people do go there for a reason, but they are not really all that exciting.
Then again, some well visited places have a lot of weight attached to them. Not going to them would be almost disrespectful. Take, for instance, the rebuilt world trade center. No one wants to stand in those terrible lines, especially when it is (literally) freezing outside, but you must go and see it when in New York. So I did. Seeing One World Trade Center was an amazing experience and a tourist destination I would visit again.
So, there are those exceptions to my philosophy of travel. I think there are sites that must be seen regardless of how many tourists visit them.
But then there are other places that I really do not care to see. I do not doubt that they are worth my time, but seeing one statue after another or one temple after another becomes a bit tedious. Beyond that though, I enjoy seeing how people live in a country that is not my own. That involves very mundane things that are not on tourist maps. For instance, how many tourists want to see where you go when you need to buy socks? Unless it is a world famous sock maker I am sure no one cares. But I do! I want to see how people live their daily lives from where they work to where they play and everything in between. There is so much to learn from experiencing the mundane aspects of other people's lives half a world away!
I simply do not like having a strict schedule of things to see and do. To be honest, sometimes that makes a trip more difficult. There are certainly days where I am sitting around twiddling my thumbs, and in those instances, I do feel like I am wasting time. So does that make my travel philosophy wrong? I would still say no, but I would concede that you have a good argument. However, I like seeing where the day naturally ends up, and for that reason, I do not have strict plans. Doing this has paid off immensely more often than not.
This rant is for a reason though. Recently I have been talking to people who, inadvertently, have made me feel like I am wasting my trip. The common question I get asked is, "Where did you go today?" or "What did you do today?" Meaning, "what tourist attraction did you see today?" They mean well, of course, but how do I explain, "Oh, I just walked around for 5 hours and then sat in a coffee shop for another hour today," without it sounding like I am just plain stupid or being lazy? Then again, should I even care? I think there is a point to made there too. But seriously, how do I explain that to someone? Especially a local who wants you to see all that their city has to offer.
So my question still stands. Do I travel incorrectly? Am I wasting my time and money? Or is sitting around doing nothing a valid way to spend my afternoon if that is what I want to do? I am not so much afraid of what people think about the way I choose to travel, but I am afraid of having regrets. I really do not want to be looking back at my time in a country, knowing I may never be able to go there again, and regretting that I did not do something. So far that has never happened, at least not on a large enough scale to be regrettable. I have thought, "Oh I never saw that when I was in (insert country) I wish I had!" But usually they are restaurants with cool vibes or small attractions that seem fun. I would hate to regret not doing something. Is that what I am doomed for? I don't know...
I guess I will not know until it is too late, right? But for now I am having fun sitting at a stop light watching people walk by. Maybe I am just weird. That is cool too.