First of all, off the beaten paths are amazing and unique. They are the roads we follow to encounter new places that haven’t been discovered by the ordinary tourist. They are the trails that we trek through to meet the indigenous people that make their city beautiful. However, off the beaten tracks get too much praise for the wrong reason.
Don’t get me wrong! Traveling off the beaten path helps with locating and learning about new genuine cultures. But, the travelers that advocate for this term and believe this is the only way to truly experience the authentic culture is complete nonsense. It’s bullshit.
We don’t need to travel an extra 30-40 minutes to reach an unknown destination just to see the authentic lifestyle. We don’t need to enter a sketchy area just for us to feel like this is the only way we can embrace the culture. Instead, we need to embrace the genuine cultures from all over the city, even in a place that’s mostly filled with tourists.
You can make yourself a new local friend no matter where you are. It’s their city! They aren’t going to dedicate half of their city to only you.
For a fact, you will meet a resident even in the most touristy areas. So, you can meet and converse with amazing people on the street corner of wherever your all-inclusive hotel is!
Furthermore, the additional term that stemmed from this is, ‘hidden gems.’ This term really concedes and supports the misconception numerous travelers have about off the beaten paths. Travelers believe that off the beaten travel is considered a hidden gem rather than the actual people.
They praise the awkward and nerve-wracking travel rather than the lovely, blissful people who can transform any situation into the most emotionally intelligent experience ever.
For instance, going to visit a temple in Thailand that is known to bring in 2-3 tourists every month is not what going off the beaten path means.
The embrace of local communities can be felt from every corner of the city. Traveling to unknown destinations isn’t the only way you will be able to meet new and interesting people.
Here’s the deal:
There is a lot of love for traveling away from the touristic norm, but I want travelers to really understand the beauty of traveling an extended amount of time for something. Let that ‘something’ be for the wonderful stories that are encapsulated in a unique exterior, not for the sole idea that that’s the only way you are going to make local friends.
Overall, what bothers me the most is that so many people have this concept of meeting locals as only happening when going off the beaten path. But that’s fallacious because you can be visiting a notable attraction and still speak to a local who will, guaranteed, expose their authentic lifestyle to you.
Remember, those blissful opportunities await you on every square inch of the city you are visiting. Don’t feel obligated to travel to an uncomfortable area believing that it’s your only option.