There’s no right or wrong way to travel, but there is a right or wrong way to travel for you. It took us nearly two years of pretty frequent travel to discover the way we most enjoy getting to know the places we visit. Once we found our travel style we started to see the world in a whole new light.
Early on when we started travel blogging it was like we were speed dating with Europe’s must sees. We were racing against a clock to see as many places as we could possibly see. If Ryanair had a sale, we’d book a ticket and just go wander around a city. We were traveling to 20 – 25 countries each year, but those first two years were pockmarked by unremarkable experiences in places that were no more than check marks on a list.
You know what? We actually hate just wandering aimlessly around cities. We love travel, but something was lacking. We needed a way to connect with what we were seeing so that it stopped feeling like we wanted to kill ourselves if we looked at one more church the guidebooks said we just HAD to see.
Our own travel style is a mixture of luxury and adventure and almost always includes wine. Once we started choosing destinations based on activities that interested us there, travel was suddenly exciting again. The stamps in our passports stopped being just another stamp and each had a story so memorable we can recall every detail like it happened yesterday.
Travel isn’t one size fits all, so we put together these tips for finding your travel style:
1. Think of travel like dating.
You didn’t just marry the first hot young thing. Well, maybe you did… but realistically it takes most of us quite a few dates to figure out the type of companion that best compliments our personality.
Travel is no different. You have to get out there and do it to figure out how you like to travel. Finding your travel style is just like dating; you’ll try out a lot of different things until you find the best travel fit for you.
You might discover that you really like the convenience of cruising. Or you might discover you want to throw yourself overboard and cruising just isn’t your cup of tea. You might find you love traveling through food with cooking classes and food tours. Or you might beeline for the nearest Hard Rock Cafe no matter where you go.
We had a first date with Budapest back in 2009. We eased our way in on that first trip with seeing the usual sights, but we did it on a segway. Tim will never let me live it down that I managed to run my segway into a wall and break it, and then kill our guide’s too. But it’s a funny story that always makes us smile. And we went back for a few more dates, getting way off the beaten path with things like caving beneath Budapest and wine tasting in a secret cave on the Buda Hill.
The thing is that you never know what’s right for you until you get out there and give things a try.
2. Don’t just do what the guidebooks tell you to do.
I know this is like shooting myself in the foot since our entire business is built on influencing the travel decisions of our readers, but don’t just do something or see something because someone tells you that you should.
It’s perfectly okay to go to Paris and not fight the crowds to see the postage stamp sized Mona Lisa. It’s not a crime to go to Rome and not see the Sistine Chapel. And you won’t die because you went to Barcelona and didn’t trek out to Gaudi’s unfinished Sagrada Familia.
When you do a little research you can do things like learn to make macarons in Paris, blend your own Cognac or climb a volcano. No matter what your itinerary includes, you should do and see what you want because it’s something you’ll really enjoy doing.
3. Find a travel blog that fits your personality.
Guidebooks are great for reading up on a destination, being in the know about the main sights and learning their history. Let’s be honest though. No guide book author is ever going to answer your questions.
But professional travel blogs are new media with accessible and social travel experts who love to interact with you. When you find the right blog or blogs to follow, you can identify with the blogger’s personality and travel style for trip ideas. Then follow in their footsteps because they’ve already done the research for you.
No matter how you like to travel, there is a blogger out there traveling just the way you want to. If you’re super in to traveling through food, Rachelle at The Travel Bite is a major foodie and coffee aficionado. Want to travel like royalty? Leah at Leah Travels finds the most decadent ways of traveling you never dreamed possible. Into cultural travel? Becki at Borders of Adventure sleuths out the stories of the people no matter where she goes. Want to travel more eco-friendly? Bret and Mary have you covered at Green Global Travel.
Of course, if you like mixing wine, adventure and luxury then you’re in the right place! We make it super easy to follow in our footsteps with our series of travel itineraries.
I could go on for days listing my fellow blogging colleagues and how they travel. The point is, with all the blogs out there these days that there’s undoubtedly one that fits your personality.
4. You don’t have to hop on a plane halfway around the world to find your travel style.
No, really. Go attend a festival you’ve never been to, go on a hike you’ve never done, take a local cooking class or try that new restaurant that just opened. We’d bet that there are plenty of things right in your own backyard you have yet to discover, even if you’ve lived there your entire life.
We lived in Italy for seven years and in Bordeaux for three years now, and we’ve far from seen it all. Tim took up skiing and I’m still taking the occasional lesson to try learn to snowboard. We’ve hiked, cross-country skied and visited countless festivals and wineries all within a few hours of our house. Travel doesn’t always have to be about getting on a plane; a new adventure waits just outside your door.
You might discover a new hobby or interest you never knew you had. And when you travel farther afield, you can seek out similar experiences that you’re certain you’ll enjoy.
5. Always make sure your travels make the best memories.
The pages of your passport should be the best book on your shelf. It’s great if that book is a riveting action-packed adventure. It’s also okay if that book is rated G and suitable for all ages. It’s okay because it’s your book.
At the end of the day, the traveler vs. tourist debate is just stupid. And no one can tell you that you did it wrong because you didn’t try the fried crickets at the night market in Thailand or because you opted not to go to the top of the Empire State Building with a thousand of your closest friends. Your travels are just that – yours and yours alone. So long as you go home with memories that will last you a lifetime, it doesn’t matter if you travel budget or luxury, solo or with friends, or independently or on a guided tour.