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Travelling Experiences

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I have never quite been able to get my head around 'going travelling' just for the sake of it. Most accounts I have heard sound a lot like an extended holiday, going to some touristy destinations and spending the rest of the time sat around in various bars.

What have hpcers taken from their travelling experiences ? Did it change your approach to everyday life when you got home ?

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I've travelled for a few reasons. Out in the sticks to feel better with healthy exercise, fresh air and clean water, or to challenge myself. Around towns and cities to take in culture and history. You will also serendipitously meet lovely and interesting people, and stumble on places and things you've never heard of. On a bike it's easy to do a bit of everything: take in some scenery riding a coastal or mountain road, take in a cathedral or castle, find a pub or cafe for a nice meal one doesn't have to carry or prepare, and finally seek out some quiet secluded spot to camp.

Travelling abroad in an appropriate place one can get out to something resembling nature for a few days. That's sadly lacking in England, where not a single square kilometre remains even mostly free of mankind's exploitation. Even Scotland has fewer "nature" pixels on the map than the built-up area of either one of its two top cities.

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I haven't, partly because I so like England, as the miserable pig suggests, and partly because I didn't and don't see it in different terms to the OP.

I could tell lots of tedious anecdotes were coming whenever anybody said they'd been traveling rather than had been on holiday.

The only one that did genuinely impress me, and he didn't describe it as traveling, was somebody I vaguely knew at college that turned up working at the same place as me.

He'd picked, at random as far as I could see, a south American country (I think Peru) and arrived knowing about three words of Spanish and the name of a cheap hotel which he'd written on a piece of cardboard to get a cab.

Stayed for the planned year, fluent in Spanish by the end. He had funded it by some monkey job before he went and whatever he could pick up there.

Sounded great, a proper immersion.

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I have never quite been able to get my head around 'going travelling' just for the sake of it. Most accounts I have heard sound a lot like an extended holiday, going to some touristy destinations and spending the rest of the time sat around in various bars.

What have hpcers taken from their travelling experiences ? Did it change your approach to everyday life when you got home ?

My elder found her career while 'going travelling'. She had had quite a reasonable graduate job for a year but was not enjoying it at all. She had done a mod lang degree and before she went did a TEFL course so she would have a means of earning while away. In Cambodia she gave free English lessons to the older children at an orphanage near Angkor Wat (lots of tourists so their ultimate jobs would very likely need it) and gradually the Italian NGO that ran it asked her to do more, e.g. help them write funding proposals, at first for no payment and later for very tiny peanuts. And then the 2004 tsunami happened and she was pitchforked in at the deep end, in Aceh. After a lot of sharp end experience overseas she now has a fairly senior job with a UK NGO. And before anybody has a go, she is not on a huge salary by any means and does work bloody hard.

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It is essentially an extended holiday but its a rather more fulfilling experience than sitting on a fake beach at some all-in resort somewhere.

Best thing is being a bit of a nomad - finding a nice place and staying a little while before upping-sticks and moving on a bit. All the while living off what you can carry. You do meet some really good characters and being eternally pressed for cash means you do develop a good sense of camaraderie with some people, before your paths divide and then its on to the next place, with its own set of characters.....

Would love to do that again. Probably a bit old for that now and have a cat to take care of.

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I went away for about 5 years on and off. Loved it.

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I've never felt any urge to travel abroad for the sake of it but used to enjoy wandering around the UK a little (although never really travelling for the sake of just travelling I suppose). Nowdays I just see stuff that pisses me off everywhere I go and makes me feel a huge amount of contempt for the efforts of my fellow human beings to put lots of effort into screwing it up (see negative thread probably).

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In my youth to get to Greece for the summer involved a 3 day non-stop bus journey. And when you got there, you were forever meeting 'travellers' who were wending their way to India by foot, boat, hitch hiking or whatever....or on their way back. They were generally broke, only spoke to you to beg or steal or to bore you stupid with their travel yarns that got bigger for the telling. You couldn't really connect with them because many of them were obviously drug users/addicts or just plain loony.

It was at this time I think I realised that generally a 'funny story' as told by drunks too, is usually a hard luck story brought on by excess.

The ones coming back to Europe were considerably thinner than the ones going the other way after having suffered bouts of amoebic dyssentry in their destination and run out of money/been robbed by fellow travellers or locals.

Sounds great.

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I've never felt any urge to travel abroad for the sake of it but used to enjoy wandering around the UK a little (although never really travelling for the sake of just travelling I suppose). Nowdays I just see stuff that pisses me off everywhere I go and makes me feel a huge amount of contempt for the efforts of my fellow human beings to put lots of effort into screwing it up (see negative thread probably).

Go to Dundee - then leave - you will feel better for it.

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Go to Dundee - then leave - you will feel better for it.

The place where they make the bridges feeble enough to fall down if anyone dares try it?

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The place where they make the bridges feeble enough to fall down if anyone dares try it?

Probably mass suicide.

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It is essentially an extended holiday but its a rather more fulfilling experience than sitting on a fake beach at some all-in resort somewhere.

Best thing is being a bit of a nomad - finding a nice place and staying a little while before upping-sticks and moving on a bit. All the while living off what you can carry. You do meet some really good characters and being eternally pressed for cash means you do develop a good sense of camaraderie with some people, before your paths divide and then its on to the next place, with its own set of characters.....

Would love to do that again. Probably a bit old for that now and have a cat to take care of.

Like the fake destination bit. I guess finding unspoilt locations becomes increasingly difficult with the need to meet tourist demands with something staged. Maybe these new developments be they tourist resorts, housing developments or shopping malls will mature and feel real one day or may be they never will. Guess these soulless pop up locations all started in the US....Florida would be a good example.

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Like the fake destination bit. I guess finding unspoilt locations becomes increasingly difficult with the need to meet tourist demands with something staged. Maybe these new developments be they tourist resorts, housing developments or shopping malls will mature and feel real one day or may be they never will. Guess these pop up locations all started in the US....Florida would be a good example.

Whilst all modern tourist stuff feels very staged and intrusive (and completely changes the feel of the place, not for the better) there are some Victorian ones that are pretty much part of the place now, so perhaps it'll change in time. I have my doubts.

Still plenty of not very touristy spots in impressive locations in Scotland, even if the main touristy ones have become exactly as you describe. Even in the bits of England that have become hugely touristy (love the Lake District, hate how it's been turned into some sort of giant theme park) you can find "real" places around the fringes, i.e. ones where most of the houses aren't holiday homes and anything there of interest is just there, not surrounded by information signs (they always turn things from something interesting that's there into a museum exhibit).

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Spent a few weeks round Central and Eastern Europe when I finished uni. Had a great time but very much a slightly longer than usual (though very cheap) holiday rather than the proper travelling people do now. Felt like I should know more about our European neighbours though have to say other than Romania, most places are generally converging and becoming more similar.

The whole drinking in Thailand thing I find pretty repellent personally but each to their own.

A lad in our office is leaving having recently got married. Has worked out he can go round South America and Asia, spending far less than his rent of a poxy flat in London to stay in pretty decent places. So saving up a few months allowed them a free run in the world, pretty sad indictment of working actually (hey this thread needed an HPC twist)

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Spent a few weeks round Central and Eastern Europe when I finished uni. Had a great time but very much a slightly longer than usual (though very cheap) holiday rather than the proper travelling people do now.

Sounds like proper travelling to me; it's not about how far you go.

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Sounds like proper travelling to me; it's not about how far you go.

dead right -- it's what you bring to it.

you can have a "proper" travel experience going to Manchester on the train, (or EuroDisney); on the other hand, you can go right around the world in a tourist bubble and experience little.

it's also not about how long you stay anywhere. some of my most memorable experiences have been had blasting through places fast.

i think the best evocation of the romance of travel i ever read was the introduction to Ken Walsh's Hitchhiker's guide to Europe:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/dna/place-lancashire/plain/A4158164

from an amazon review:

"just the introduction alone sets the tone for an amazing book

Its all about the road outside your door that can lead anywhere with just a thumb and the right attitude. If you're going to athens and the first car that stops is going to munich ... well athens will be there another day. I used this book 25 years ago as a guide and mentor for meandering round europe. Hitchhiking with no destination is a unique way of travelling - tough when its raining, no hot meal for days ... But the best bit, no one knows where you are or why. Some of the rides remain with me now. People I would never have met, listened to or learnt from. Awesome. Mobile phones have killed such freedom and wanderlust.

Its the book i'd take to my desert island!"

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I haven't, partly because I so like England, as the miserable pig suggests, and partly because I didn't and don't see it in different terms to the OP.

I could tell lots of tedious anecdotes were coming whenever anybody said they'd been traveling rather than had been on holiday.

The only one that did genuinely impress me, and he didn't describe it as traveling, was somebody I vaguely knew at college that turned up working at the same place as me.

He'd picked, at random as far as I could see, a south American country (I think Peru) and arrived knowing about three words of Spanish and the name of a cheap hotel which he'd written on a piece of cardboard to get a cab.

Stayed for the planned year, fluent in Spanish by the end. He had funded it by some monkey job before he went and whatever he could pick up there.

Sounded great, a proper immersion.

Staying in one place for a year ain't 'travelling'. :)

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I have never quite been able to get my head around 'going travelling' just for the sake of it. Most accounts I have heard sound a lot like an extended holiday, going to some touristy destinations and spending the rest of the time sat around in various bars.

What have hpcers taken from their travelling experiences ? Did it change your approach to everyday life when you got home ?

Technically, a touristy destination is just as much part of the real world as anywhere else. But by 'travelling' I would hope to get away from such places, and immerse myself in the local culture. I've never been one for spending a week on a beach, and even near a tourist hotspot, you don't have to travel far to find somewhere broadly unaffected by tourism.

As for the word 'holiday' - what does it mean in this context? Most people mean it as getting away from work and relaxing. If you are unemployed and travelling for months, the idea of temporarily getting away from a current job is meaningless, even more so if you instead work in the places you visit.

Travel is a way of opening your eyes to and experiencing other cultures. The further you travel, the more different these cultures tend to be. You experience how people of other cultures differ, but also understand what we have in common with them.

And beyond people, there are landscapes that are utterly alien to someone who has only seen British countryside and townscapes.

The OP's title suggests he is a caravaner. I've nothing against a caravan, but if all you want to see of the world is what is in close proximity to caravan sites, you need to open your eyes to the world. The OP seems astonishingly incurious about the amazing world we live in.

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I went to Australia for a year after I graduated. Did the whole centre, North, West, South and East Coasts. The west Coast of Australia is still to this day the most stunning and un-spoilt place I've ever visited. There's no fresh water in many places, so you have what you take with you. That keeps many of the tourists away.

By the time you get round to the east Coast it's a different story. Full of people who claim to be travelling, but in reality have sat pissed in a bar overlooking Bondi beach for the best part of 6 months. Sad.

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I went to Australia for a year after I graduated. Did the whole centre, North, West, South and East Coasts. The west Coast of Australia is still to this day the most stunning and un-spoilt place I've ever visited. There's no fresh water in many places, so you have what you take with you. That keeps many of the tourists away.

By the time you get round to the east Coast it's a different story. Full of people who claim to be travelling, but in reality have sat pissed in a bar overlooking Bondi beach for the best part of 6 months. Sad.

Double sad as the best beach is actually across the heads in Manly...

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Double sad as the best beach is actually across the heads in Manly...

Oh yes.

Best beach in Sydney IMO. had some great days/nights there. Always ended up having to run to catch the last ferry home.

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Travelled the world as a service/applications engineer.

Good for annoying middle class travel bores. Been there. Been there etc.

Travel bores seem to delight in going off the "beaten track". There's a reason its off the beaten track - its cos its shit. Get in, get the job done, get the hell out.

As for favorite destinations, Cornwall's nice. I like the South of France and the American west.

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