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There’s a certain amount of exaggeration inherent in most travel stories. That hike was the hardest climb ever. I’m an “expert” on New York bagels. I naturally look this good after sweating in a Guatemalan jungle.
You’ve all met that friend and heard that story. We all know that sometimes people squeeze in McDonald’s french fries even if their breakfast was at a local hole-in-the-wall. It’s understood someone may have taken three shots before getting the perfect Instagram photo. So let’s be real for a minute: I have some travel confessions and I bet you do, too. Maybe it’s time to be honest about it.
#1 – I Like Chain Hotels
Hilton, I’m looking at you. Thank you for your king-size beds, your in-room coffeemakers, and your online booking system. Thanks for the rewards points which mean I don’t have to shell out $300/night in Tokyo. And most of all, thank you for offering enough consistency that I can check-in (jetlagged and sleep-deprived) in a country where I don’t speak the language.
I love independent properties and the personality that comes with them, but on my arrival day, there’s nothing I want more than the bland, boring, predictable hotel.
#2 – There are Some Places I Just Don’t Want to Go
My travel wishlist is so long that I’ll never get to the bottom (and that’s assuming I never repeat a destination I love). The world has so much to offer and I’m the type of traveler who would rather spend longer at fewer places. So forgive me when I admit that there are some places I’ll probably never go to.
Five years ago, I may have taken your advice to visit Destination X even if I wasn’t hugely inspired by it. Now I’ve traveled enough to listen to those inner voices, telling me to spend my hard-earned time and money in places that truly call out to me.
#3 – I Only Want to Travel With You if That Was the Plan in the First Place
Selfish, I know.
Once I start planning a trip — not daydreaming, but the real, actual, I bought a ticket planning — then I already have an idea of what I want. I start to picture myself somewhere and that’s the image I expect. I probably chose the destination and the timing based on who I’m going with and no matter how much I like you, I may have done things differently if I knew you wanted to tag along.
If I ordered vanilla ice cream, don’t give me strawberry, even if that’s ordinarily my favorite.
#4 – I Don’t Want to Travel on a Shoestring Budget
All due respect to budget backpackers out there, but overnight buses are not for me and I gave up hostels 3 years ago. I’ve come to a point where I want to be comfortable enough that I can actually take in the experience of what’s going on around me — not nursing a terrible backache or suffering through exhaustion.
I’m not a luxury traveler either. I save money where I can so I can travel a little more often. But if I have to go to absolute extremes, count me out. I’ll forego that trip in favor of the next one.
#5 – There’s Nothing Wrong With Cruises or Resorts (As Long As You’re Honest About It)
To everyone who says that cruising doesn’t count as real travel, I don’t think you’re trying hard enough.
Of course, visiting somewhere by cruise or all-inclusive will never be as authentic as staying in a local home overnight, but that doesn’t mean you won’t get a glimpse of local culture. An port stop is long enough for a half-day of sightDOING, a local lunch, and a wander around town. In my opinion, this is 100% a real visit, it just happens to be a short one.
And even if, for one week of your life, you want to sit by the pool with a margarita in your hand and never leave the hotel, that’s okay. Just be honest and call it what it is.
#6 – I’m Envious of People Who Sleep on Planes
I don’t know what my problem is, but I have trouble sleeping on planes, trains, and automobiles. It doesn’t matter how tired I am or how nice of a seat I have (even first class flights and train sleeping compartments)…if we’re moving, I’m awake. That obviously means I’m dragging once I arrive at my final destination.
I’ve learned how to work around this — a nap on arrival and an easy day planned — but wouldn’t it be nice to have gotten a nap on your 14 hour flight instead of pulling an all nighter? Maybe someday I’ll figure it out, but until then, I’ll be the one checking into my chain hotel in a stupor and crawling immediately into bed.