Let's not bother beating around the bush, there is no "wrong" way to travel.
It's a topic which sometimes leaves me considering unfollowing most travel writers and bloggers around the web altogether. I'm so tired of the prescriptive travel advice out there which tells you that you must "travel like a local" or "travel solo" because otherwise you're "just a tourist." Don't get me started on the traveler versus tourist debate.
No, You Don't Have To Go Solo
As a woman who travels solo at least once a month, the whole "solo female travel" movement has never resonated with me. In fact it often annoys me, (I'll let this meme speak for how I feel about the use of the word "female" in the movement) due to it's prescriptive sounding nature - making it seem it must be the only way to travel. I personally find that instead of coming across as empowering, the movement often comes off as negative towards anyone who prefers or enjoys traveling with a partner or in a group. I travel both by myself and with my husband because I enjoy traveling with him. If you like to travel with a partner and prefer it to traveling solo, do it. Traveling solo is not the only way to travel. And no, your experience will not be negatively impacted because you're not traveling solo.
Just Check It
For awhile I considered writing a post called "Confessions Of A Chronic Over-Packer," and then I turned 30 and decided I didn't care any longer. As someone who writes a lot about travel and travels frequently, I often get asked for tips on how to pack light. The truth is, I don't pack light - I pack smart and 100% of the time that means I check a bag when I fly. There is a strong belief out there, that checking a bag is a travel "don't" - but really who cares!
I hate dragging bags around the airport and could care less about waiting to pick up my bag after the flight - I'm not in a rush. I have no desire to purchase 3oz versions of my shampoo or to be that person struggling to fit their overpacked roller bag into the overhead bin. I'm a frequent traveler and I'd rather check a bag. Yes, I've had my luggage lost and you know what - I'm still here and everything is okay.
I say, do what works best for you and your trip.
One of the other travel "do's" out there is to travel like a local - a dangerous thought if you think about it more deeply. As a Seattle local, I tend to frequent the same places over and over as opposed to trying new things. That's most certainly not my goal while traveling. Another definition suggests that you should do home stays or rent an AirBnB as opposed to staying in a hotel or resort - to up your chances of getting to know some locals. While I personally tend to lean toward the AirBnB route, I've also enjoyed stays at resorts and hotels. Do what feels right for you and your trip. Whether you choose to stay in an all-inclusive resort or do a home stay with a local family you probably won't have a miserable time. Just a different one depending on your choice.
Whenever I see a post or article written about why someone travels, it's inevitably all about the people. Perhaps I'm in the minority, but if I were to write a why I travel post - it would be all about the natural features our earth has to offer. I don't seek out people when I travel, it's just not about the people for me. When I read how-to articles about great travel writing, it's always about the dialogue and the people you meet along the way. Perhaps that's why I struggle to write once in awhile, since I seek solitude when I travel and my most meaningful travel moments involve the lack of dialogue.
So if you're like me and seeking something other than people in your travels - just know you're not alone and it's okay.
To Count Or Not To Count
There's nothing like country counting to make a traveler feel inadequate. Spencer Spellman recently wrote a great post about not caring which I think captures the gist of why I'm including this debate here. I could care less about going to every place in the world. I simply have no interest in visiting every country. Like I mentioned previously, I travel for natural wonders and that's what drives my choice in destination. It's perfectly acceptable to be a traveler with no desire to go to every country in the world and the number of countries you visit only matters if you want it to.
Did you visit Portugal for two weeks and not set foot in Lisbon or Porto? Have multiple people told you that you're doing it wrong? I bet they have - and in my case they've certainly told me.
Measurements such as how far away you travel, how long you spent there, where you went, and how often you travel - only get in the way of appreciating whatever travel you can do. For the U.S. based folks out there, if you're taking your two weeks of the year to visit family for the holidays - well done, you've traveled. You should never have to refer to your travels preceded with the word "just." Your travels are not insufficient, they are your travels.
The One "Right"
Are you traveling?
Travel, you're doing it RIGHT!