Traveling is one of the best ways to explore the world while also finding out what you’re made of. On the road, you get to expose yourself to new ways of living and thinking. Sometimes, these new discoveries come in the form of gorgeous views, exciting experiences, and new friends. But other times, they come come as challenges—like travel delays, bad weather, creepy hosts, and closed sites. These challenges could very well “ruin” a trip. However, more often than not, they could be just the detour you need to get out of a cookie-cutter tourist experience, and into a journey that is all yours.
And so, we invite you to reject the bucket list and embrace a more free-flowing adventure. Here are our reasons why we think it’s better to abandon or, at least, leave some some breathing room in your itinerary.
While it is important to budget while you travel, you may not realize that all-inclusive tour packages end up costing you more for little payoff. A mediocre boxed lunch provided on a group outing might seem sulit when you’re booking it, but discovering popular tourist sites on your own, and then eating a local meal of your choice could end up saving you a lot. Plus, you’ll get to dictate your own schedule and menu!
Be more sustainable
Sustainability can be one of those buzzwords that lose meaning from overuse. But when it comes to travel, it’s simple: Being sustainable means making choices to sustain the environment, culture, and economy of the local area you’re visiting. When you don’t obsess over a bucket list, you get to focus on the process of your travels, not just arriving at the destination.
This means opting for a slow-cooked meal with locals instead of ordering fast food delivery, with its tons of needless plastic waste. It means taking public transportation instead of booking a private van, which may be more comfortable, but has a much larger, more negative environmental impact. It also means learning words in the local language in order to preserve the local culture, instead of demanding that everyone speak English.
Opting to travel slower—instead of just getting through as many tourist sites as you can—gives you a deeper, more meaningful, and unique experience!
Get insider information from locals
It’s amazing how easy technology has made it to navigate through foreign countries. With maps, translation tools, and even public transportation schedules right in your pocket, there’s little reason to stop a stranger on a street to ask for guidance. So, interacting with locals now has to be an intentional act. When you are following the almighty bucket list, you may forego meeting anyone other than fellow tourists (and tour guides with an agenda). This would be a disservice to you because some of the best travel advice you’re going to get will be from locals. They know all the underrated off-the-beaten-path sites, where to get the best food, what scams to avoid, and how to navigate the local culture.
Be more open to adventure
With no agenda, you’ll be more flexible. You’ll adjust to delays better. You’ll be more eager to connect with other travelers. And if their plans are interesting to you, you’ll be free to join in on their adventure! Likewise, if you’re traveling with a companion, the experience of building a journey together as you go will bring you closer. Discussing plans and making adjustments, rather than religiously following an itinerary, is always a better way to discover a new place.
Skip the crowds
The harsh truth is: bucket lists aren’t all that unique. And while you might find a nice angle to shoot your Instagram travel post, we all know it often takes battling hordes of other sightseers in the area just to get it. We say skip the crowds! Let yourself breathe. Take in the beauty of the trip that is meaningful to you—not to the random followers who will like your next Facebook check-in. Away from the crowds, and away from the bucket list that drives you to them, you’ll be able to focus on your own experience, and embrace the journey that is all your own.
The next time you plan a trip, feel free to list the sites you want to visit. But don’t let your itinerary tie you down. Instead, be open to adventure. Leave gaps in your schedule for rest days or detours. You’ll find you’ve come away with a deeper connection with the world at large, with your travel companions, and with yourself.
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