To be a “professional” travel writer, you do a certain type of travel. I often glance through the travel articles in major newspapers to see what is being published. As I read it, I can’t help but think how horrible some of it is. Every article is based around the same context, and that, is absurd.
When reading these articles published by leading newspapers, the writer goes to some expensive, far-fetched destination that the majority of the readers will never venture to. A place by the name of Fiji springs attractively to my mind. While in Fiji, the writer decides to try out the budget accommodation at $799 a night per person, described as “a rare find that all frugal travelers must experience!” While running up his expense account, he dines on lobster for breakfast, caviar for lunch, and a buffet of endangered species (Bald Eagle, Killer Whale, White Tiger, etc) for dinner. In between, he is able to take a budget conscious trip in a nuclear submarine and later, get his toes, yes, his toes fondled by some guy in a banana hammock.
As I read all of this bull, I realize that travel is rarely like this. Maybe I’m sheltered because I’m poor, but even if I was rich, I’m not sure if I’d ever want some guy by the name of Fabio touching my feet. So, why are all travel articles about being a tourist? Is it possible to experience a place without following the Gringo path?
It’s possible. I’ve dabbled in it here and there, and when I do, it’s pretty awesome. I crave those experiences and enjoy sharing them with others. What if I actually did this on a regular basis and wrote about it? But, if I did that, what would I call it? Drum roll please….
What if, I was Anything BUT a Tourist.
I wish I could take credit for the name, but I can’t. My good friend Ryan (an extremely talented photographer and writer) thought of it after I explained some of my ideas to him. In order to convince him to give up all rights to the title, I told him I would give him 1% of all my earning. Little did he know, I would probably never make a dime for any type of travel writing I ever do. Sucker.
So, here’s what I’m thinking. I’ll continue to write the way I do, but every now and then, if I find myself in a place that normal travelers won’t go, I’ll “review” it. Maybe I’ll actually recommend a restaurant or a hotel, or maybe I’ll just write about the experience. Think of this as a slightly different style of writing, aimed at educating the future traveler.
To gauge on whether or not it will make this “column,” I will go by a simple set of rules. I think I have it simplified to two questions: Are there any other people who resemble my culture? Does anyone speak English? If both answers are no, it’s a place where Anything BUT a Tourist would venture.
Now pardon me. I need to go research how many McDonalds’ are in Bogota. I can’t live without my daily breakfast of an Egg McMuffin.