What Is An Indie Traveler?
This post is part of BootsnAll.com Indie Travel Challenge 2012.
This weeks prompt is: Are you an indie traveler? What do you think makes someone an indie traveler?
So what is an indie traveler? In my opinion it is someone who is willing to think outside of the box. Someone who is looking for experience off of or even on the well-worn tourist path that really speak to their own inner truths for traveling. People who are looking to challenge their own personal boundaries whether that is by doing something that scares them or by eating unfamiliar foods. An indie traveler to me is someone who travels for themselves. To find their inner truths, to find things that fuel their inner desire to travel. They do whatever it is that they enjoy most and have no guilt about it; maybe they enjoy lounging an a beach or getting lost in a busy hectic city or doing something physical outdoors. It is not about checking off places and experiences just to say they have done it but to find places that really speak to their souls. Sometimes these places can simply be brief moments; a smile exchanged with an old lady on a bus, laughter from trying to translate a menu with nothing more than hand gestures and animal noises, or giggles from children as you show them their own photographs. It is often these moments that you will remember most when you return home. Being an Indie Traveler to me involves going to places that challenge you to become more of a global citizen and less of a national from wherever you might call home.
As I sit here in a hammock in the Philippines writing this and after months of doing the Southeast Asian circuit I have come to realize that it is very hard to actually avoid these well-worn paths. Sure I am a solo traveler. I often land in a new town with nothing more than an address of a hostel or guesthouse that has been recommended by a fellow traveler I have met along the way. I often eat street food as opposed to western or even sit-down local restaurants. Is this all it takes to make yourself and Indie Traveler? In my opinion, no!
Most of the things your research and what to see are best done in organized tours or activities. Let’s face it, unless you are a Navy Seal or something of the equivalent you are not going to just storm into some Malaysian Jungle in search of the world’s largest flower or you not going to just blow up a raft and decide to go White Water Rafting over a 7 meter waterfall in New Zealand! Both of these activities I have done in an organized tour and would never have been able to do on my own. Yet they are some of my favorite travel memories. These types of activities are best done accompanied by professionals and experts. Does signing up for and doing these activities make you less of an Indie Traveler? In my opinion, no. Not if these are the types of experiences that thrill you and that make you excited to travel.
My own personal indie travel style is as follows…
- I travel solo. Sure I have met people along they way and traveled with them for weeks at a time but I relish the freedom solo travel. I love that I am able to change plans at a moments notice, like I did just a few hours ago in the Philippines, and not be liable to anyone else. This speaks to my inner truth of traveling. I seek the freedom to explore or even stay somewhere longer than most that interests me or somewhere that I feel very comfortable in.
- I never carry loads travel checks or US$$ around and worry about exchanging them before I get to a new country. I simply use the first local ATM I see and go on my merry way.
- I try to face my fears while traveling and do activities that push my own personal boundaries.
- I do most of my research by word of mouth and travel blogs. I barely rely on a Lonely Planet except for maybe their getting to and away from sections. Sometimes it is only from the advice from fellow travelers that might get you to your new favorite spot!
- I have done all my border crossings on my own. I have never had a problem walking over a border and I really don’t see what all the fuss is about.
- I love to simply get lost in a new town my first day or two there. Walking around taking all the little shady side streets is something I get a huge kick out of.
- I more interested in finding the locals’ favorite watering hole or lunch spot than seeing the cities most famous monument.
- I trust my gut for planning my next destination even if sometimes it doesn’t make the most logical or financial sense… aka flying direct from Turkey to Bali.