Sharing's caring! Share this awesome article with your friends, you know u wanna...
Share on Facebook
Facebook
0Tweet about this on Twitter
Twitter
Share on LinkedIn
Linkedin
Pin on Pinterest
Pinterest
0Share on StumbleUpon
StumbleUpon
0

The traveler’s obligation

Being on the road a long time, we get to see some of the most amazing sights imaginable – Great Wall of China, Sydney Opera House, Empire State Building, Machu Picchu. Often they blow our mind and exceed our expectations, often they do quite the opposite but nonetheless it’s a great experience to see some of the world’s most famous sights and grab a few obligatory snaps.

taking pics when you travel

But what about when you’ve seen 100 Buddhist temples but you arrive in a town with another famous one? Or you had your fill of Roman ruins but your guidebook says the ruin in the next town is a ‘must-see’. What then? This is what I mean by the term ‘the travelers obligation’, the feeling that you should go to see that 101st temple even though you don’t want to, you’d rather relax and watch a movie but the guilt is too much and away you go.

I was in Egypt recently and had a great time. I took the ferry from Sudan all the way to Aswan, followed the Nile north through Luxor, Cairo, Alexandria and Dahab. As you can imagine I saw some jaw-dropping ancient structures – the Pyramids, the Sphinx, the Valley of the Kings, Abu Simbel but towards the end of my time in Egypt I found myself jaded by visiting yet another generic, sand-covered tomb however I went through the motions and saw every last one in every town I was in. I was wondering if ‘the travelers obligation’ is an emotion endured by all backpackers and travelers.

Can you have too much of a good thing? Are we just spoiled by the lifestyle that we live? Does ‘the travelers obligation’ really exist and if so should we feel guilty about it?

Maybe I’ve just been on the road too long but as I sit on the boat to Jordan, the excitement of being on the road has come flooding back to me. I’m on my way to see Petra and not through any sort of obligation whatsoever.

sep-icons
teach-blog

So if you’re ready to…..

1) Change your life
2) Travel the world
3) Get paid to travel
4) Create a positive influence on others
5) Be free of offices and ‘real world’ rubbish

Then Sign Up Below and Let’s Get Started!

login-logo

Got a question? Wanna comment? I'd love to hear from you

0 thoughts on “Seeing Sights Because You Feel You Have To?

  1. There definitely can be too much of a good thing…I’m teaching in South Korea at the moment and am constantly told by my teachers to visit a certain temple or palace, only to turn up and swear it looks just like all the others! With the exception of Angkor Wat and a few Thai temples with amazing colours…i think a couple of temples are enough!

    1. I’m with u Mia – although I guess we gotta try to remember how awesome we thought everything was when we first arrived in a country, it’s all so shiny and new and you taking millions of photos as if you won’t see it again. Fast forward 6 months “yeah yeah another temple, wotever”! Tell me how to rediscover my first impressions!?

      1. Johnny, we’ve found this year with our GRANTOURISMO project that the trick is to slow down, focus, and dig deeper rather than race around ticking off a trillion sights. GRANTOURISMO grew out of our frustration doing just that as travel writers PLUS also seeing how other travellers travelled, and how jaded some could become.

        We found that once we decided that we weren’t going to do any must-do sights unless they really contributed to a deeper understanding of the place, and that we were going to stay longer in a specific area rather than travelling widely, our travel has been guilt-free.

        Our focus has been on meeting locals and experiencing places through their people. We’ve been living out of our suitcases for 5 years, but travelling together for far longer, and this year we’ve returned to a lot of places we’ve been before, but this has been by far the most enriching year of our travel yet.

        1. great insights Lara and ur current project sounds great 🙂 Best of luck with it and hopefully our paths can cross at some point

          1. Thanks! GRANTOURISMO has been great. Just finished month #11, so we’re on the home stretch. Though in a few months we’ll be embarking on phase 2 of GRANTOURISMO. Just no more yearlong trips! Too long when you’re working. It’s been a great travel experiment. We really wanted to explore more enriching and ‘authentic’ (appreciate that’s a loaded term) ways of travel, and we have. Now, after so many years of travelling, we’ve finally found the way that we love to travel.

            Love the shot above – that’s Wadi Rum, no? If so, one of my favourite all time places.

  2. When I was in Italy, I thought if I had to see another ‘must-see’ church I’d go insane.

    I hate the feeling of this ‘travel obligation’ you mention. Still don’t know how to resolve it.

    1. i guess it’s a byproduct of our lifestyle choice. Lets just ride it out.. beats waking up on a monday morning and thinking about zero freedom until 5pm on Friday 😛

  3. So totally do this, especially when I get to cities. I went to Lisbon recently and walked around the city for one day ticking off my list of sites to see in my head. I’m quite guilty everywhere I go of marching to the site just to get the perfect photo, but not really appreciating it so much anymore. When you’ve been travelling for years you can just get a bit saturated with it all. I think the key is to mix it up a little.

    1. Hey victoria, i know it’s terrible isn’t it!? But if you’re never gonna be there again I guess we really should. Maybe just a little reward to ourselves for our endeavours that evening should be written into the backpacking rule book – 1 historical sight = 1 drink, we’d be running around the cities during the day even faster then 😛

  4. Often a ‘must see’ is really a ‘must understand.’ Often taking the time to learn why this ‘sight’ is important; or historical; or unique; or representative; or whatever; can give a much deeper understanding of the place you are traveling through. The sight might be ‘a worse travel experience’ because of the crowds, but a better life experience. Anyway that’s my $.02

    1. spot on Austin, that’s a great way of looking at it. Sometimes i think we are all guilty of ‘ticking the box’ without fully appreciating the history involved. And life is all about the experiences right

  5. i guess we don’t but we may always feel guilty about missing something that we won’t get the chance to see again.. ever :S

  6. We have been thinking about this a lot ourselves recently. We don’t believe in “must-sees” but there is a lot of pressure in certain places. We are usually able to ignore the pressure (we skipped the Taj Mahal in India after an amazing 3 months in the country with no regrets), but recently felt we “had” to go to Machu Picchu despite the huge expense and knowing we wouldn’t enjoy the crowds. I did enjoy it but we have had many more lesser known highlights in South America.

    I think everyone has to do what’s right for them and ignore the obligation.

    1. Hey Erin,

      You’re completely right. Agra was the worst place I have been in India i think (altho the Taj itself is predictably amazing). As you say, I think we have to find our own way and stick to that… i.e no more than 1 museum a week for me!

      johnny

  7. We hear you! Get used to the feeling – I think it’s great. The more we travelled the more we felt less of a compulsion to see the sights, and felt more motivated to connect with locals and do and learn things (which is why we developed our Grantourismo project).

    Petra *is* wonderful and *is* worth a full day or two – but it is terribly touristy and the amount of touts on sight can disappoint. Once you’re done you can go to Wadi Rum and kick back with no obligation to do anything else other than soak up the desert atmosphere. Enjoy!

    1. Hey Lara,

      I know – maybe it’s a good thing not to feel the obligation. Being in other countries is more about absorbing the culture as opposed to ticking the sight-seeing box, just makes me feel a lil guilty 😛

      Wadi Rum was amazing, thanks for the tips!

      johnny

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Follow me on Instagram @onestep4ward