Independent travel has really changed over the last 30 years. Those of us over the age of 40, will fondly remember a time back in the 80's, when travel was more authentic. Long before the advent of the internet and smartphones, we left behind all that was familiar and stepped our itchy feet into the unknown.
However, as the trailblazing travel writer Dervla Murphy, reminds us "now the familiar is not left behind, and the unknown has become familiar before one leaves home". These days travel apps such as Trip Advisor, Google Maps & Rideshares, together with a boom in the travel guidebook industry, have joined forces to become the essential 'go-tos' before and during travel.
First of all, some of you, especially if newer to solo travel, will find your smartphone and guidebook offer some sort of security, when far from home. However, by over relying on them, your travel experience may be lessened, rather than broadened. You will tread the same tired path, to the 'must see' sites, that other readers of Lonely Planet, stomped along before you.
Do you really want poked in the eye with a selfie stick trying to get a swatch at the Eiffel Tower? I've tended to stick with this 'old' style of travelling, choosing not to plan, preferring to wait for opportunities to arise spontaneously. Maybe you can try it too?
1. By relying solely on smartphones and travel guidebooks, you'll be less likely to have face-to-face interactions with local people and fellow travellers. On the other hand, if you prefer sticking with your friends or like to plan a jam packed itinerary, Trip Adviser won't get in the way. I feel nothing beats asking a local for directions, only to be invited to spend the rest of the day with them! Rather than planning, why not live a day to day adventure?
Ana in Pristina, Kosovo (I asked her for directions, then had an interesting day with her)
2. If I'd depended on Google Maps or stuck to guide books to find places to visit, I'd have missed out on all those invites to lunches, dinners, weddings, social events and NGOs. When the very people living in a city, offer an invaluable insight into their culture, they become your very own Trip Adviser! Be authentic, wander around at your leisure and discover places by yourself.