Why is everyone trying to put our travel experiences into neat little boxes. Just let me do my own thing. Sometimes, I want to travel like a backpacker (not really), and sometimes, I want 5 star (mostly). But it seems that travel outfitters are trying to put travelers into neat little categories. For instance, read this garbage from some writer:
For years companies like REI Adventures, TrekAmerica and G Adventures have offered more strenuous, less expensive and sometimes shorter trips to entice younger travelers. “Yolo trips are fast-paced and cover a lot of ground,” said Timothy Chan, public relations manager at G Adventures, which created a brand-within-a-brand called Yolo — as in, you only live once — that targets travelers in the 18- to 30-year-old range. “Since they haven’t been on earth as long, they tend to have visited fewer destinations and like to see and experience as much as possible.”
Few companies, if any, however, have gone as far as one that came online in November. It’s called Yomads, as in “young nomads,” and is a consortium of adventure travel operators in Europe and Australia that has dedicated itself exclusively to the 20- to 40-year-old set. They’re so sure of knowing what transition adventure travelers want that once you go over the hill, you can no longer join the trips.
But it gets worse. Look at what this idiot did:
“The people on a trip are definitely key,” said Gareth Turner, a 35-year-old Air Timor manager in Singapore, who once took out an $8,000 loan as a 25-year-old to pay for an outfitted trip to Nepal and some new gear. He said there were a few “age conflicts” being the youngest guy “by decades.” He was quick to add that such conflicts couldn’t possibly outweigh the benefits of going someplace beautiful, remote and otherwise difficult to reach.
Why would anyone take out an $8000 loan for a vacation, and why would they sign up for a group tour if the destination or experience meant so much to them? My opinion is that he was afraid to either travel by himself, or signed up for the wrong type of trip. And I can tell you from personal experience, I have seen way too many 80 years old zip up trails and monuments much faster than pimply twenty somethings. And I also feel that the older traveler offers a richer experience, both with their stories and experiences, as well as their maturity.
The days of taking a one way flight (open jaw) to a foreign land, wandering for weeks or months at a time, is a dream that few people can do anymore. Young people are saddled with college loans, pressure to succeed, and even supporting a young family. Mature adults have the time, but perhaps many no longer have the wanderlust or the physical ability to wander.
I still feel I am somewhere in between. I still do not like big group tours. I prefer to wander with just two or three of us, without a set schedule or itinerary. Each day should be an adventure, even if all we do is forage for food. With the internet, I could always book a hotel for the evening if I felt it was needed. Otherwise, we just walk up to the hotel reception desk, and negotiate a room rate. On the fly, so to speak.
Now, here is something I could do:
Every trip has at least a few days with nothing planned at all to allow time to blog from a cafe or to find a noodle-making class. Perhaps most appealing, the groups are small, 15 people or fewer, and will nearly always include some mix of Europeans, Australians and Americans since all four partners sell the same departures.
But I do not want someone telling me when I should have free time or use the internet. The small group idea, I can live with for only a short period of time, maybe three to five days maximum.
My trip to Chile and Argentina did not even have Argentina on the planning board. Our loosely defined plan was to get to Santiago, and eventually see and drive the length of Chile. We did that for the most part, but not obsessively. We saw and did what we enjoyed, skipped some parts, and were forced to be creative a few times in an unexpected, yet pleasant manner. Buenos Aires, Mendoza and Ushuaia were most enjoyable as well as memorable. This was a travel highlight in my life.
But I also realize that this type of trip is not for everyone, and I can respect that. The point is, do not put us travelers into a neat little box. We do not fit! If you can be happy traveling with a bus load of people for two weeks in China or Europe, go ahead. Or maybe the trip was the bargain of the century! My Mom traveled with groups that way in her later years. And that was fine, for her. But not for me!
I still want to wake up in the morning, and decide over coffee, where I will go, or what I will do. Or maybe do nothing! Is time so precious that every minute of every day should be filled with a group activity or sightseeing? No. Please, just let us be travelers and wanderers in the truest sense of the words. It may only be a figment of our imagination, but that is what keeps us going.