Have you heard about those people who only travel in an “authentic” manner? They eschew organised tours and established modes of transport, insist on homestays over hotels, and avoid the big attractions in favour of the “undiscovered” backroads and byways?
And at least some of them look down on the rest of us who don’t have the time, energy or money to faff about, and just want to enjoy ourselves and see a bit of the world that’s new to us.
Of course, I’m very much on favour of “each to their own”. We all have our preferences and priorities, and our bucket lists are different.
I don’t like it when somebody says you are travelling the “wrong way”, because there simply isn’t a wrong way (unless, of course, you’re killing and pillaging as as you go).
Snobs who say you don’t really “get” a country if you take a cruise or a coach tour, or stay at budget brand-name hotel rather than a family-run boutique B&B, are simply out of touch with the realities of others’ lives. Many travellers have small budgets in terms of time and money. Packaged tours and tight itineraries make sense.
I’ve done my share of whirlwind trips to see the highlights of certain places, and I’ve been lucky enough to be able to return to some of those that interest me and see more at my leisure. I’ve revisited some places alone and again with friends, creating a different dynamic.
For me, the golden rule, is to do what you can do of what you want to do. Take the tour if it means you’ll get to see the things you want to see, but try to allocate some time for the road less travelled. Wandering around aimlessly (but safely) has its own rewards.
But don’t let anybody tell you that you didn’t do it right, and don’t regret what you didn’t see or do, be happy with what you did. There may be a time when you won’t be able to travel as freely as you can today, so find your own way to do it.