Call it the tourist track. The tourist ghetto. The Lonely Planet effect. If you’ve traveled abroad, guidebook in hand, you’ll know what I mean. You leave the comfort of home to find the exotic, the challenging, the inspiring – in a word, the different; instead you find other tourists, traveling in herds along the same prescribed routes, seeing the same watered-down “cultural” sites.
This is a common complaint of tourists; hell, it’s a common complaint of me. But, if we’re honest with ourselves, we travelers, we’ll recognize that this is a problem of our own making. For all my grumbling, I like my Lonely Planet. In many situations, I’d be lost without it. It’s comforting to have someone, a disembodied voice speaking to me from a reassuringly standardized set of pages (same design whether I’m in Delhi or Denmark), telling me where to eat; where to sleep; what sites are truly worth seeing. It’s disconcerting only when I realize everyone else is following the same mute shepherd.
Fortunately, this problem has an easy solution – take a step to the left. Or the right. Go anywhere off the set path (just a few paces will suffice) and you’ll find a whole new world.
This website, then, is a record of my adventures off the tourist track, and a gentle nudge to get people out of the Lonely Planet rut.
My latest project: A Week in Delhi (Off the Tourist Track).