I tend to be a bit of a dreamer. I like to forgo reality and indulge in a bit of escapism. I read a lot of travel blogs and I listen to the stories of anyone who will tell them. I hope that’s why you are here... To listen to my stories.
I must admit that I was stricken by a comment made by my friend Shawn at +Coastlines and Tan Lines when he said, "Be a traveler, not a tourist."
When we travel, we do it in one of two styles.
We travel to learn. We (Kahunaschick and I) travel to soak in local culture, experience the things we do not get at home. Food, music, history and local flair. This can be a challenge! Just like any of us, the people who live in tropical and eccentric destinations still live life. Just like the rest of us, they get up, eat and go to work. If they are lucky, they have a local beer to unwind with when their shift is over, but then they have kids and housework. They live there. They are not on vacation!
This makes it a bit of a challenge to work your way into their culture in the few days that we have to experience all a destination has to offer.
Often times, I like to travel to destinations where we have a “Local Connection.” Often times, that means hooking up with a twitter pal or someone who follows this blog to show us the local scene.
Once in a while, it means traveling with someone who is experienced with a destination, and occasionally it’s both.
When we traveled to St. John in January, we were lucky enough to be with a couple who had spent some time on the island, as well as with +RumShopRyan - Caribbean Escape Blogger , a man who may love this island more than any place on earth. Sometimes seeing a location through the eyes of another is quite rewarding!
Our other often engaged in method of travel, is pure tourism. Take for example our recent trip to Hawaii. It’s easy, it’s high dollar, and it’s rewarding as hell! But it still includes some education and soaking in of culture.
When traveling places like Hawaii, I like to do the “Tourist Trap” excursions. I love going to a Luau that picks you up at the hotel, takes you on a bus ride with a smart ass host, telling jokes, tossing in bits of local history and culture, pointing out a few local landmarks along the way and informing you how to get through the luau with the least amount of effort.
When you arrive, there is plenty of photo opportunities to have your picture taken with a “Local” wearing a grass skirt and coconut bikini top (Or a tea leaf covering the man bits) and plenty of cheap rum drinks to lubricate your wallet for the ride home.
After a fair meal of great food, some of which is truly traditional fare, and a pretty cool show including fire dancers and more ladies shaking their hips, you are shuffled back onto your bus like cattle. The Funny man does his thing, entertaining you all the way back to your hotel, asking for but a small tip when you get there!
When being a “Tourist” I actually like that the sidewalks are pressure washed every morning, the flowers along the street are checked and replaced daily and the coconuts are removed weekly. I just like the pure escape of being a tourist.
But even when traveling as a tourist, I never fail to soak in culture and local flair.
Check in on Tuesday for the rest of this story, and more photos!