It’s okay to be a tourist sometimes. As world travel gets more popular, especially among millennials, it seems like everyone is trying to out-do each other on who can get farther off the beaten path. For the most part, that’s pretty rad! There are so many awesome travelers exploring places previously untouched by Instagram and it’s very cool to see. What bums me out, though, is the idea that there’s any “right way” to travel. There ain’t.
In fact, the best part about travel is that it’s totally unique to each of us, everyone seeing the world through their own lens of experience. Sometimes that experience is in an obscure authentic af village on the Northern peninsula of New Somewhere Republic, and sometimes it’s freaking out in the middle of the Louvre’s daily Mona Lisa crowd. Both are valid. No one should get grief for whipping out their selfie stick in front of the Eiffel Tower.
This post is an ode to those cliche “tourist” moments that we as travelers should feel no shame embracing. This week I’m getting back to basics. Here are some classics that in my experience are anything but basic:
The Eiffel Tower
Look up “iconic” in the travel dictionary, and you get a picture of the Eiffel Tower.
When the Eiffel Tower was constructed for the 1889 Esposition Universelle (World’s Fair), it literally blew every mind in the entire world. In fact, it was so awesome and impressive that America had to go and try to out-do it and that’s why the Chicago World’s Fair happened. I digress.
I do have to say, though, that seeing the Eiffel Tower in person was a traveler dream come true. The moment felt very special and important. It’s a landmark that maybe helped a lot of us get our wanderlust in the first place. For me, it was the image emblazoned on many a Forever 21 clothing item and/or accessory in middle school, before I never so much as left the USA.
Yes, it’s hot. Yes, it’s crowded. There are long lines, and bits of it always seem to be under construction. It’s a hotbed of pickpockets and scammers in the middle of Rome. The Colosseum is totally worth it, though. You get to walk where the citizens of ancient Rome walked, guys! The structure, though now obviously ancient and unused (except for, you know, tourists), still has this lingering buzz of energy to it. You can almost feel the excitement that once used to fill its seats during the gladiator days.
The Canals of Venice
YEAH, ITALY GETS TWO, OKAY. Maybe that’s because most of my own bucket list items tended to be in Italy. I think Venice gets too much grief–at least in some backpacker circles–for being overwhelmingly tourist-y and “inauthentic”. If it doesn’t get grief for those reasons, it’s because it’s too dirty or stinky or flooded. Whatever, all of that might be true, but oh my god, is Venice worth literally every second of your travel time and dimes. Just go, just freakin’ go, it’s really cool. And it’s Italy, so the food and wine are the bomb. There are gondolas, betches!*
*If you can’t afford gondolas or travel as a single pringle like moi, there are also water taxis. Equally fun.
Stonehenge is goddamn rad. And mysterious. As I write this, it seems like the odd one out on my list in a way… like, I don’t see that many people fawning over Stonehenge. Are people forgetting about Stonehenge? Do people not care about Stonehenge anymore? I feel like people might be forgetting about Stonehenge. I always saw it as a total holy grail travel bucket list item and was so psyched when I finally got to go there. I went with my mom because even though I’d been in Britain for almost a year, Stonehenge is randomly/inaccessibly on the side of a British highway and she had a rental car. Thanks, mom!
The Grand Canyon
Oh, hey, USA. I don’t think anyone has questioned the epic-ness of the Grand Canyon, but just in case, let this be an assurance that it’s worth the trip every time. Even if you only have time for a quick drive and a viewpoint. You don’t have to be hiking rim-to-rim to be jazzed about your Grand Canyon trip!
Did I miss anything? What are the all-time travel bucket list items that inspire your shameless selfies?