A lot of travel experiences you can enjoy in cities around the world have gained a reputation for being somewhat cliché. For instance, imagine going to a city with a beautiful coast and heading straight to the most famous beach; some would call it an inauthentic way to experience the area, or simply dismiss it as “touristy.”
In some cases, these negatives are well founded, and a travel experience really can be little more than a cliché tourist trap. Speaking generally though, there are also a lot of types of experiences that are labelled this way that – as often as not – can actually be lovely. This little list is about some of those cliché travel experiences I just can’t resist!
1. Touring Museums
The very idea of touring museums while travelling can seem like a waste. On some level, most museums are at least similar, and many people simply have a sort of instinct to spend more time outside, or on the go, when at a foreign destination. For me though, the differences that do exist between different facilities in different places are fascinating. You need only spend a few minutes looking over the world’s most incredible museums to realize just how much there is to see. Yes, they (mostly) all have the same types of galleries, and there can be a certain atmosphere that exists in all of them. But they also have different collections, different nods to local cultures and histories, different exteriors and surroundings, and sometimes their own in-house events. I always find that a museum is worth the time anywhere I go.
2. Sampling Local Delicacies
A “delicacy” could be just about anything when you’re travelling. It could be something as simple as a Philly Cheesesteak in Philadelphia or something as seemingly high-end as escargot in Paris. It’s not uncommon to see travel guides dismissing these kinds of culinary attractions though, whether because they’re overrated, overpriced, hard to get in good form, etc. In certain instances, some of those doubts may apply, but you can also typically find some really great local food when you’re abroad. And even if you don’t love what you try, at least you’ve tried it! Travel to me will always be largely about broadening my horizons, and as cliché as that sounds, it’s a valuable way to look at things – and the perfect excuse to pop some buttered snail into your mouth in Paris.
3. Trying Casinos
I actually have a sense that casinos are becoming less cliché and more outdated. A lot of younger people have never even been to one, and those that have any interest can typically find what they’re looking for on the internet. Online poker rooms have been popular for decades now, and wide selections of slot games based in the UK are increasingly making the rounds on various websites and apps. There’s no need to go to a casino, and those who might want to are sometimes dissuaded on the grounds that these places are just expensive tourist traps. These are all fair points, but if I’m travelling somewhere that has a big, nice or even old-fashioned casino, I enjoy checking it out. There’s always something interesting going on, and the side attractions – spas, bars, restaurants, etc. – are usually worth your attention even if the casino tables aren’t.
4. Exploring Botanical Gardens
If you spend any meaningful amount of time looking at travel blogs across the internet or just guides to different destinations, you’ll come to a somewhat surprising realization: tons of places list botanical gardens among their top attractions. For a while I didn’t really understand this; frankly, it seemed like “botanical garden” was just a fancy term used to make a mildly interesting outdoor space seem like an attraction, and it seemed like it had worked on a lot of people. Then I read a description that yanked me out of my cynicism on the issue: botanical gardens are places where people like to be. That’s all they have to be! They’re city parks with labels – giant greenhouses or wealthy estate yards you can just hang out in! Yes, some of them emphasize the education side of things a bit much, but I’ve come to realize there really is a reason these are such popular attractions.
5. Taking Guided Tours
Taking a guided tour at a foreign destination might be the most “touristy” thing one can do and is thus firmly in the cliché category. These days a lot of people will opt instead to follow guidebooks or even apps or websites they can access on their phones. I get the urge, but in this case, give me the old-fashioned way. There’s something relaxing about taking an hour or two to simply be led around a city while things are explained to you. You don’t have to plan the route, a debate between recommendations on some app, or watch the clock. You can simply sign up for a prearranged tour and enjoy it, which for me is always worth a short chunk out of a day.
Hopefully, these observations can help you as you go about planning your next trip, wherever or whenever it may be. Just remember, clichés can be accurate and enjoyable at the same time!