Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Why "Off The Beaten Track" is not a good idea

Countless of ads and brochures in South-East-Asia have it written in it: We take you off the beaten track. And it sounds so great, finally Me as a tourist can avoid all the other tourists, because I want to have all of this just for me.

Off The Beaten Track appeals to the selfish part in us. Me, Me Me. I am a better tourist, I am the real backpacker. But it's just marketing, and sometimes it isn't a good idea to be off the beaten track.

Let me give you a very practical example. I like bicycling a lot, and I like to discover new routes. Here in Siem Reap it means, new dirt roads and path ways. When it's raining, they are slippery and muddy, when it's dry, they are like quick sand. The only thing that keeps you going IS the beaten track. That is the whole purpose: To give you a safe passage, to clear the way for others. To be not selfish. And while going the beaten track, you actually beat it more, making sure those coming after you can use it as well.

Or take it to the extreme: You don't want to go to Mount Everest "off the beaten track". Also, you don't want to walk around in Laos and parts of Cambodia off the beaten track, because you may step on a landmine or a UXO and get blown up.

It is like the new backpackers: They all follow the Lonely Planet trail. But they still think they explore the world for the first time.

These days, only few places are hidden. We know most parts of our planet. Yes, you can still discover a new path through a forrest, or a cave, but believe me, you better be a specialist, cave diver, mountain climber, ranger than a tourist who left his office desk for two weeks.

So next time someone offers you a trip off the beaten track, ask them what kind of insurance they have.

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