Saturday, 5 May 2012

Travel without a guidebook

Travel is supposed to be an adventure, right? If you have a guidebook to tell you where to go and what to do, you’re cheating yourself out of a heap of potential excitement. You might also save yourself from accidentally purchasing a book written by people who have no idea what constitutes fun, and being miserable after following their terrible advice.

Here are some benefits of traveling without a guidebook:

 1. You can more effectively support the local street urchin population. Because you won’t know what the proper exchange rates between Guatemalan quetzals and Honduran lempiras, the adorable ten year old at the border crossing who changes money for you will be sure to keep 90% of it. What a fun way to donate to charity!

2. You can be the first to review Hotel Paradiso, an establishment in the red-light district of a notoriously dangerous port city in Honduras, on Yelp! Since you have no idea where to stay, just rely on your taxi driver to bring you to a hotel. Be sure to specify that you want to stay somewhere inexpensive. Don’t be surprised when you must remove rat droppings from the bed before fitfully attempting to sleep on it wearing all of your clothing.
This place was not in the guidebook. I guess it was sort of Ok.

3. You can stay longer inadvertently. Without the trappings of a guidebook, you will be blissfully unaware that you have crossed time zones once you have left the airport. If you’re luckily and the time difference is in the right direction, you’ll miscalculate your pre-departure arrival time and miss your plane home.

4. You can skip out on stupid sights that were included only because the authors needed to fill space. Instead of spending your 30thbirthday slogging through dry sand for hours under the blistering sun only to find that the “waterfall” the guidebook recommended is comprised of one-foot high rapids in an ugly brown river, you could instead stumble upon something way more worthwhile, like the Katherine Country Music Muster

Seriously? I made this picture big just so you could try to see the amazingness of this waterfall in the background. My pregnant belly is bigger than that crap.

5. You can accidentally order the national dish, which is inedible, twice! Don’t bother embarrassing yourself by pointing at delicious plates of food other restaurant patrons are eating—just let the waiter bring you whatever he pleases. You’ll probably be lucky enough to be served the national dish. These are usually designated as such because the government has a surplus of something unpalatable they wish to get rid of, and tourists are gullible.

6. You can contract the local disease(s). Since you didn’t read up on what not to do, you can become ill through a host of different methods: drinking the water, walking barefoot, being bitten by mosquitoes, or playing with the local cats. This allows you the special chance to explore the local health-care system, in addition to making for a fun story to tell your friends!

Can you think of other benefits of guidebook-less travel? Please share!

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