Updated: Feb 24, 2018
Visiting a new place is an incredible experience that’s uniquely your own. Which landmarks are on your must-see list? How many hours can you dedicate to a tour of this historic place? Which sights should you simply take a selfie in front of?
These are essential considerations for traveling as a tourist, along with maps, cameras and itineraries. We did it, we loved it and we intend to do it again, but with a twist.
For part of our travels we dropped our maps, guidebooks and self-guided tour ear buds and attended a major event in England. We eliminated urgency and the compulsive desire to see as much as we can see, as quickly as we can see it.
I’ll admit, we were only there for the racing. We didn’t realize that it would feel like a mini-vacation within a vacation. The week before and after was an all-out race to see the sights. As much as I enjoy a guided tour, I feel compelled to commit everything to memory, read every plaque and take snapshots at every available photo opportunity. My memory is destroyed after the first few tours and travel sleep deprivation doesn’t help.
Instead we enjoyed a three-day Bank Holiday weekend with thousands of other people. As part of the crowd, we were able to immerse ourselves and see how others camp on the other side of the world. We ate the same foods, kept the same hours and entertained ourselves in the same way as everyone else.
It gave us an opportunity to relax, meander and mingle with other like-minded people. Conversations felt natural, engaging and a lot more interesting than our earlier interactions with store clerks, or even that friendly tour guide’s chit chat. We made friendships with people from far away; friends that know more about visiting these places than we do.
Being part of the crowd allowed us to see how differently our countries approach the same event. In the states, we’re up early and at the track before practice with a breakfast cocktail in-hand (after all, it is vacation.)
They arrive a bit later, begin drinking later and then continue until much later- into the early hours of the morning, in fact.
We learned a lot more than we could have from any tour. We made memories; not necessarily captured in a perfect selfie portrait, but the type of moment that we’ll remember forever.
I don’t think it really matters what your passion is. The key is to slow down, take some time, and be around people that love the same things you do.