One of my imaginary readers just sent me this question for my Ask a Travel Blogger series — lucky too as I didn’t have much to write about this week!
Should I Avoid Tourist Hotspots While Travelling?
With an almost endless supply of iconic cities, paradise beaches, picturesque mountain villages and historic sites around the world it kind of makes sense to skip the most popular ones in favour of quieter and cheaper locales.
Beach holidays are examples of trips where I’d say it may be a good idea to skip the iconic tourist spots. If you skip the more popular islands you’ll often have a much more relaxing stay. The Gili Islands for example. The three tiny islands off Lombok, with no (in theory) motorized land transport are about as laid-back as you can imagine — a world away from the busy streets of Bali, a short boat trip away. Get away from Phuket and you’ll find a wide array of islands, from basic ones with only flimsy beach huts for hire to more lavish operations. The same for most beach destinations — there’s a lot to choose to from!
If a country is home to good beaches there’ll often be dozens or hundreds of different islands / beach towns catering to all sorts of different travellers. It’s tempting to go to the popular ones but dig around a bit and you’ll find some interesting alternatives.
Think Twice Before Missing the Really Iconic Places
A point of view I’ve heard a bit over the years is that avoiding the most popular and iconic places a country has to offer brings with it a more genuine experience. This opinion usually comes from people with a sense of superiority, that they’re doing travel better than others. I reckon skipping Machu Picchu because it’s too touristy is one of the least impressive things to brag about. Of course you may have no interest in ruined cities, but you should probably think twice about going to Peru if you feel that way!
Timing is Everything
For the popular places, especially in Europe, timing your visit is key to an enjoyable trip. I’d have massive reservations about visiting Venice, Rome, Paris etc in the middle of summer. We went to all those places in winter and they were pleasant to explore, a lot cheaper than in summer and we didn’t have to book far in advance.
If you’re travelling Europe in summer it may be best to spend some time in the less popular cities / countries. You could also opt to do day trips to the busier cities if it’s too expensive to stay there.
It’s Your Trip!
If there’s a key point in this post it’s this — don’t let anyone dictate to you what your trip should be like. There’s a lot of advice out there and a lot of people who claim there are right and wrong ways to travel. Skip the popular places or only visit popular places — just make sure you’re doing it for the right reasons and not to cultivate some kind of image — most people don’t care about that stuff!
Balance is important too. Visit tourist hotspots but also head to some less well-known places. Peru is a good example of this — Machu Picchu is one of dozens (probably hundreds) of ruined cities ripe for exploring. We went to around six other Inca ruins from a similar time period and they were all much quieter than Machu Picchu (Pisac, Ollantaytambo, Moray + a few others). A more relaxing experience and some amazing things to see, but you can’t beat Machu Picchu.
Will you be avoiding the most popular places on your next trip? Let me know in the comments below!
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