AKA How to Travel the World and Not See Sh*t

As I reflect back on my just over six month trip in South America, I find myself questioning a lot. Did I see what I wanted to see? Did I accomplish the goals I wrote down in my journal before I left? Or even deeper questions like, do I grow as a person when I travel the world? Am I a better person than when I left? Answers to those questions, especially the latter can be tough, not to mention super subjective.

One thing I do know is that looking back I do realize there were times where my days sort of floated by. There are parts of my trip where I have multiple, amazing memories, although the duration may just have been a few days. Other times, I have almost no good memories, even when I look back on a timeframe of two-plus weeks.

So what gives? What created those amazing memories in such a short period of time, while other times I am grasping at straws to even remember what or where I was for a full week?

With these thoughts in mind, I decided to put together this post on 4 ways you can travel the world and really not see anything. Or as I like to call it, 4 ways to travel the world and not see sh*t.

1. Only stay in party hostels/top ranked hostels.

Want to go to a party hostel, have western comfort, hang out with a bunch of foreigners, not meet a single local, or learn a single thing about the country you are in? This can easily be achieved if you only stay in the top-ranked, specifically, party hostels. Now I’m not saying staying in a party hostel, or comfortable hostel is a bad thing. Honestly, all the points I am going to address in this article should be taken with a grain of salt. But if all you do is hit up these types of hostels for the entirety of your trip, plus go out on the activities planned by the hostel, chances are you are not going to have a very authentic experience. To be honest there might not be a huge difference then hitting up the nearest party hostel at a major city in your home country. Besides, maybe the music you listen to (maybe) and the drinks on special at the club you’re at.

2. Only listen to travel reviews and don’t go off the beaten path

Travel reviews are great, and if you’re anything like me, you probably read them frequently. Heck, I give people travel suggestions all the time, and when I do it’s because I genuinely think they are the best option. However, they shouldn’t be the holy grail to guiding your trip. One person’s trash is another person’s treasure. Travel and experiences are subjective. Don’t let just a few negative opinions stop you from checking out a place you want to see.

Disclaimer – Obviously if a large sample size of people reviews a place as being complete garbage. Don’t hit it up. All im saying is that there’s beauty outside of just “Top 5 Cities to Visit in XYZ Country”

3. Only do guided tours

There’s pros and cons of doing guided tours whenever you travel, so let me just lay out the biggest ones I’ve experienced.

Pro’s:  simplified, structured, less stress, potentially even cheaper due to partnerships/economies of scale etc.

Con’s: usually more expensive, lack of freedom, generally kills local interaction

Now guided tours can still be great. Heck sometimes guides are even mandatory depending where you are visiting. But you definitely don’t always want to go on guided tours. Traveling on your own schedule and itinerary allow you to be spontaneous. It allows you to go to that nearby city everyone’s been talking about, or try that restaurant your new friend you met in your hostel already hit up twice in one day. It allows you to be flexible and just do what feels right. It may be a bit more nerve-racking, but don’t worry, it will all work out.

4. Plan out your entire trip from start to finish

Now, this is the last one I am going to throw in here, and I know some people will disagree. Now I am not suggesting that you won’t see anything by planning out your entire trip. To be honest, you will probably see a lot more than the lazy traveler who doesn’t plan out a thing and before they know it their trip is over and they haven’t done much more than party and chill on a beach. However, I do feel it is extremely important to have flexibility when you travel. If your entire trip is already planned out, each and every activity, just like the guided tours, you won’t have any opportunity for impromptu trips. For example, you may find out there’s an amazing street festival, or free art show in town just for the weekend that you had no idea about. If you plan out everything, you’ll never be able to take advantage of the little trips that sort of just come up. And trust me, if you talk to other travelers and keep your eyes open, you’ll find a lot!

Just get out and travel!

So now you have some recommendations on how not to see anything worthwhile when you travel the world. Try to avoid these 4 travel tendencies and I can almost guarantee you’ll have a better trip. But hey, in the end, if traveling in any of these ways makes you happy, then do it. At least you’re out exploring the world.

Safe Travels!

P.S If you’re currently planning a trip, check out this post on how to find cheap plane tickets and save cash on your next trip!