Top 10 Reasons to Travel Beyond Tourism

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Photo of Top 10 Reasons to Travel Beyond Tourism by Unshod Rover

There are at least two ways to travel: as a tourist, and as somebody else. If you have the time, you can always try to be both.

When I visit new places, I always try to give it a second, third look. First, I allow myself to be a tourist, you know, of the snap-happy, spot-hopping kind. I comb through the map and the checklists.

Then, I stay for another day or come back to get to know the place and its people a little bit better, deeper, in a more reflective, respectful manner. I just walk and wander, stopping to drool over a lamppost leaning in a way not so common, or to try a local drink or snack.

While tourism is not necessarily a bad thing, for sure there are many other reasons to grab your backpack and take the next bus to somewhere. Let’s hear what #RoverRecommends regarding this moving matter.

1. Ecstasy. Not the drugs, not so much as that trance-like state, but in the real Greek sense of it. And that is “to stand outside oneself.” I understand that some people, in order to get to know themselves better, they try to introspect, to see themselves by looking within. Well, that’s chill. But you can also try going outside of the self, and discover the Other. You can’t underestimate the depth and breadth of knowledge and experience you gain by meeting strangers and tasting strange things.

The first country I've ever travelled to was Singapore back in 2003. After more than a decade, Singapore remains as vibrant and inspiring as ever.

Photo of Esplanade - Theatres on the Bay, Singapore Singapore by Unshod Rover
Photo of Esplanade - Theatres on the Bay, Singapore Singapore by Unshod Rover
Photo of Esplanade - Theatres on the Bay, Singapore Singapore by Unshod Rover

2. Study. I spent around five years of my life “studying” in Europe. While it wasn’t the easiest episode of my existence, it was one heaven of a traveling chapter. Studying abroad not only makes you go out of your academic comfort zone, it also gives you a wider world view. Your horizon of perspectives becomes far richer than the one you cling to back in your small safe corner.

While in Europe, you can easily visit neighbouring cities during long weekends, like Zurich and Vienna.

Photo of Zürich, Switzerland by Unshod Rover
Photo of Vienna, Austria by Unshod Rover
Photo of Vienna, Austria by Unshod Rover
Photo of Vienna, Austria by Unshod Rover

3. Work. Sometimes the grass is indeed greener on the other side. But you’re not there for the greens, but also for the blues, the burgundies and other colors that a different work place and culture offers. I had once worked as a gardener in Normandy through a help-exchange program, and also helped out a family in Slovakia doing household chores. Wrestle weekdays, wander weekends. Works for me.

On free days, you can visit some spots just around the corner, like this magical castle in France.

Photo of Mont Saint-Michel, France by Unshod Rover
Photo of Mont Saint-Michel, France by Unshod Rover
Photo of Mont Saint-Michel, France by Unshod Rover

4. Culture. Sounds cliché by now, but if you really allow yourself to immerse in a different way of living, of seeing and doing things, you would definitely learn and enjoy at the same time. We were once in Morocco during the Ramadan, and we did try to fast as the locals would. More than once, we were treated to a free meal by the end of a day’s fasting. Visiting a place during festivals could also prove to be a very satisfying endeavor.

The cities of Morocco were by far some of the most "different" places I've ever discovered and experienced.

Photo of Tangier-Tetouan, Morocco by Unshod Rover
Photo of Meknes, Meknes-Tafilalet, Morocco by Unshod Rover
Photo of Chefchaouen, Tangier-Tetouan, Morocco by Unshod Rover

5. Eat. No captions needed. Well, if you insist, who wouldn’t want to go for seconds in that small pizza place in a corner of Naples? Or for sushi in the traffic of Tokyo? Anyone for tacos in Mexico or a big slab of steak in Buenos Aires? Full veg anywhere in India?

Photo of Tokyo, Japan by Unshod Rover
Photo of Naples, Italy by Unshod Rover
Photo of Naples, Italy by Unshod Rover
Photo of Lisbon, Portugal by Unshod Rover
Photo of Lisbon, Portugal by Unshod Rover
Photo of Lisbon, Portugal by Unshod Rover

6. Capture. A once-in-a-lifetime moment. The most surprising photobomb. The biggest life learning. Caught in camera. Immortalized by ink. Engraved in the corners and caves of your memories. We all are collectors of things beautiful, interesting, life-changing. We want to keep now to share tomorrow, to remember in the future, for purposes of emergency or just to emerge from something, somewhere.

7. Spirituality. A pilgrimage is part of any religious experience, both organized and free-wheeling. For some it’s the Vatican or the Way of Santiago de Compostela, for others it’s the Mecca or the desert and the seas. Some walk barefoot to commune with nature, some sail or cycle towards a deeper understanding of the universe and the human spirit.

Photo of Hronsek, Slovakia by Unshod Rover
Photo of Hronsek, Slovakia by Unshod Rover
Photo of Hronsek, Slovakia by Unshod Rover

8. Read. It’s a win-win situation. Reading helps you travel, travel better informed and updated. Traveling allows you some reading time while waiting for flights or the next bus or your hot meal. Many of my travels are based on books, as in I read about destinations, as in I visit a city for its bookshops. From a lovely bookstore by the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris to Church Street in Bangalore dog-eared with the best secondhand bookshops in town, I don’t really mind the extra mile or page or kilogram.

Photo of Shakespeare & Company, Rue de la Bûcherie, Paris, France by Unshod Rover
Photo of Seine, Paris by Unshod Rover
Photo of Seine, Paris by Unshod Rover

9. Bridge. Gaps. Differences. Islands. Continents. Universes.

Known for its bridges and its strategic location in Central Europe, Budapest remains a hub between countries and cultures.

Photo of Budapest, Hungary by Unshod Rover
Photo of Budapest, Hungary by Unshod Rover
Photo of Budapest, Hungary by Unshod Rover

10. Breathe. Just to do nothing, away from work, from the chaos of the city. Or exactly the opposite, to absorb the frantic lights of the capital and electrocute boredom. Some require a plane ticket for every hiccup or long bus rides for a nagging thought. Some just need to be there, outside. Some would like to live in Mars, some just would like to go back home.

There are no words for the atmosphere you would find yourself inside Alhambra. You just have to be there.

Photo of Alhambra, Calle Real de la Alhambra, Granada, Spain by Unshod Rover

Whatever floats your boat, what trips your trigger. For whatever reason, the need and desire for travel must be addressed. Get it? Addressed. Choose a destination. Go where your toes take you, where your dreams lead you, where you will be at home anywhere in the world. //

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