I'll be the first to admit it: I've become somewhat of a travel snob.
I know, the ol' “be a traveller, not a tourist” thing is getting a bit old, and maybe (definitely) a bit overused, but I stand by it. If you're lucky enough to be in a different part of the world, shouldn't you take full advantage of that and see all that there is to see?
The term “wanderlust” is another all too freely used expression these days - mostly by people undeserving of that title. I'm sorry, but you cannot come home from a week on the beach at an-inclusive resort and then decide travel is your life's passion. You did not "see the world in a whole new light" - you paid two thousand dollars to be pampered and sip fruity drinks. If your idea of “seeing the world” and “experiencing other cultures” includes room service and a swim-up bar, be prepared for some eye rolling from me while you rave on about being enlightened.
The world has so much more than that to offer, and that's what I want to experience. And I mean fully experience it – no tourist-ing for me, thanks. Give me the path less travelled, where only the locals really know the way. Real travel is risky, but it's worth it.
The real joy of travel is in that risk, and it requires you to go outside your comfort zone. Embrace all the things that are different from home, because soon enough you'll be back to the safe and normal. Why spend sixteen hours on a flight (or even just four), just to arrive in a foreign country, living life as if you're home? Some of my best travel stories are from times when I was most uncomfortable; whether that means eating a scorpion, climbing a volcano, or going a week without toilet paper. I don't think any of that is a possibility at your posh Bermudan hotel.
Although you might be avoiding some "discomfort" of the unknown by sticking to the touristy norm, you'll be missing out on something truly comforting. The people you meet by chance are just as, if not more, amazing as the must-see tourist destinations. Throughout my adventures, I've met the most wonderful, interesting humans. Locals and fellow backpackers are infinitely kinder and more willing to help than I ever would have expected. All you need to do is look a little lost, and someone is sure to help you on your way. Your hotel bellboy may be nice, but he's got nothing on the local woman who strikes up a conversation with you at the market.
When you step away from the safety zone of what's familiar, the world opens up to you. You're never going to have that authentic, amazing experience though, if you stick to what's safe. Sure, you may have a fabulous vacation, but you haven't learned the ins and outs of the culture; you haven't seen the country's true story. That's fine – I understand people have different interests and preferences. But please, don't trivialize the wonder of being a traveller, because you're not one.