Explore beyond your resort
For years I have been lucky enough to have travelled to destinations that consistently hit the top 10 lists for travelers. Often gorgeous sunny beach destinations, and usually in developing countries such as Mexico, Thailand, Cuba, Fiji and Vietnam these heavily touristed areas are not always well developed outside the luxury resort’s 7 foot high wall. Many of them have their pockets of poverty right outside the resort, some with locals living on just a handful of dollars a day. I tend to stay in locally run guest houses or hostels, so I have never taken much notice of the resort tourists.
But I went on my first resort holiday last week.
What I experienced while staying in Fiji’s Intercontinental Hotel has me quite riled up: Many tourists staying in these resorts are not experiencing the destination at a grassroots level.
Sure your 5 star hotel employs local staff, they are there polishing the silverware and tidying the garden. Your room cleaner who smiles and greets you every morning is also a local.
But are you really getting to know a culture if all you have experienced are the sanitized staff in your resort?
Or the 5pm cultural dancing show while you sip a decedent cocktail in the sun set?
Can you really go home and boast to your friends that you ate the best tacos in Mexico from your hotel buffet?
Is this really your destination in a nut shell?
What if you chose to leave the compound, not on an organized tour, not with the hotel driver, but actually stepped out, on your own, and wandered the city you are calling home for the week?
What if you walked past a street food stall and handed over your 60bhat and ate the most delicious fresh Pad Thai of your life?
What if you bumped into a local family who told you of a wonderful site that wasn’t in the guidebook, or pointed you in the direction of a local produce market?
What if you stumbled on a beachside shack serving cold beers to the local taxi drivers for a tenth of what you are paying in the resort, with a bit of banter to boot?
If you don’t explore outside your resort, you could have just been laying by a pool anywhere in the world!!!
I urge you, for your next resort holiday, take a day off from the pool side bar, step away from the buffet restaurant, and instead, grab a local taxi driver and ask him where he or she goes to eat, ask them for their tips of the city. Your sure to come home with a great story, amazing photos and a sense of scratching under the surface of your destination.
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