How many times have we travelled to a dream destination only to be sadly disappointed by the place? I sincerely hope it is not too often otherwise you will by now be a dyed in the wool “Stay at home” person when it comes to holidays.
Why is it we would be disappointed? I believe that the way we perceive things starts at birth and we are influenced by everything from schooling, growing up, family, culture and of course the now omnipresent MEDIA.
It is inevitable therefore that we form images or impressions of the places we seek to visit and it is equally inevitable that travel companies will present only the finest image to entice you to buy into what may be a somewhat false reality.
We would never even have heard of the Maldives or the Seychelles had not the advertising people done a remarkable job of marketing these remote islands.
Media and marketing
This blog is not intended to be a slur on the advertising and marketing businesses or the travel agencies and companies selling you dreams…on the contrary, I am going to contribute to the wealth of information available to you however; as a relatively new travel writer, I seek to arrive at my travel reviews in a subtly different way. Only time will tell if the different approach is worth the potential hassle it will and is providing me!!
I like to think that I am a reasonably well travelled individual with a fairly balanced outlook on life but now that I am a travel writer by loose profession I find myself looking at things, places, events and circumstances in a slightly different light.
My Disciplined approach to travel
In the past I had a very disciplined way of preparing for travel whether it be with business, employment or holidays and recreation. I am posting this short blog because in the past few weeks I have discovered the outcome of changes to the way I approach travel…more importantly I hope these discoveries will help others to make their own more informed decisions on travel plans.
When I decide on a destination I no longer conduct the same detailed research I might have completed in the past but instead prefer to arrive on the airport tarmac and make the bulk of decisions from that point based on impulse.
Yes; this is indeed radically different from my previous approach. I would naturally ensure I knew every conceivable detail about the trip and all the options such that I could have a planned itinerary almost down to the hour and understand all the cost implications and potential complications.
For foreseeable future No more detailed planning…..why?
I decided that if I aspired to become a successful travel writer I needed to understand the pitfalls lying in wait for the unprepared and discover things which other travel writers and researchers perhaps may not have presented in the past.
If you don’t do things differently the result will remain the same
It occurred to me that if I used all the current facilities afforded to me I could probably experience a completely event free trip or holiday (as I have done many times in the past of course) and produce the self same information everyone before me has written but then I would have no inkling as to the trials and tribulations faced by the other folks who, for what ever reason, have not taken the time to do the research and planning to make the most of their trip.
Change is difficult
It has not been so easy changing well tried and tested and in part, habitual ways, in order to pretty much effectively jeopardise the chances of success of any trip I go on in order that I have a completely different experience to the one I have been accustomed to.
It is total madness to deliberately go against your natural instincts but I figured it would be worth it to get a different slant on things….and if it wasn’t what could be the worst case scenario…a holiday which many people and families are exposed to regularly, either way it would still be an experience with lessons to be learnt. The Taj Mahal in India for my birthday…can’t be bad eh!
And what have been the consequences to date?
I have ended up taking different decisions to those I would normally have (not always but often) and of course this led to a completely different set of circumstances which have forced differing reactions from me. Fortunately, each time I have been blessed with the tolerance to deal with the situations as they arise but more importantly, I have ended up with something NEW in my “experience Locker” to reflect upon in my writing. Anything less would amount to some arguable degree of plaguer ism of other peoples experiences with little unique to tell.
What provoked this post.
Could I actually arrive in a new destination without having any preconceived thoughts, ideas, impressions and expectations? I have already mentioned how we develop our own individual thoughts and impressions of places….I have just finised travelling in India and am now in Nepal.
Close you eyes and picture these two places…grab it firmly in your mind.
So what did you conjure up?
Me? Kathmandu…oh the pretty snow capped mountains and fresh mountain air, a quaint valley with all round views of the legendary roof of the world with local Nepali going about their rural business stopping occasionally to look in awe at the westerner passing by.
Wrong! This was indeed my idealised view prior to arriving in Kathmandu and I was so looking forward to the change having spent weeks in frenetic India. Kathmandu is a sprawling city engulfed in smog for large periods and the mountains are nowhere to be seen!
This lack of research and understanding is perhaps not a typical characteristic of a traveller and travel writer but with this different approach meant that on arrival I probably exhibited the blank look of a novice traveller rather than a 50 odd year old experienced traveller.
Delhi I believed was a dirty, smelly, over crowded city with absolutely nothing of interest for the discerning traveller.
As it transpired Delhi was dirty, smelly and overcrowded so my mental picture was not wholly incorrect but as for having nothing of interest…I was so very wrong on that count. Read the post I have made on this site to re calibrate your own thoughts if you have not already visited Delhi.
I still want to gauge my own unfettered impressions of a place and now prefer to arrive at a new destination with as much of an unprejudiced view as possible. In this day and age this is also an idealised thought but we need to start somewhere.
It would be very naive to believe you could not be somewhat influenced by the wealth of information presented to our poor brains from the very day we were born; this is after all, education and experience…who for example could not but have a view of the Himalayas or the Taj Mahal or the Grand Canyon?
Sadly the information we each process can give us all differing conceptions of the same place and I have proven that even a seasoned traveller can have ill conceived views.
As for Kathmandu…
well I was simply wrong but with the right positive attitude you can find such a lot about Kathmandu to justify coming here and then make your way to the parts of Nepal which DO have the visual image I had in mind!! Read my post on Kathmandu here and learn that I did end up loving the place despite having had my dreams shattered as the plane landed in the rain and smog.
Is this then a responsible way to conduct myself as a travel writer? Should I change and research everyone else’s opinions and thoughts?
I don’t think so…I think I would still prefer to bring my own personal views to the table and I wish to feel the disappointment that others like me must experience…then perhaps after taking the experience and staying in that destination for a while, I may be able to compensate others in their disappointment by suggesting how best to make the most of the very place which originally fell short of expectations.
This is of course only how I am treating my travels but there would simply be no point in me advocating the same approach for other travellers…that would be madness for sure unless you relish challenges around every corner!
Continue to do your research, check tips and reviews on this site and the many other travel books and sites offering a wealth of information and that way secure yourself a really great trip.