1. Resort: this is when you go to another country so that you can stay at a resort that’s a dime a dozen, and go to the pool and beach surrounded by other tourists who have no interest in the actual country in which they are.
2. The Guided Tour: this is when you go on day trips with an attractive tour guide who all peppy-like tells you about various historic sites and old rocks.
I am strongly opposed to both of these. I’m opposed to them because I think they kill culture.
Perhaps one could argue that the first doesn’t kill culture so much as ignore it. But I think that’s a sin in itself. To me, resorts just take up space that could be put to better use; they function as a sunny bubble for people that simply want to brag about their relaxation to their coworkers when they return. Why must space in incredibly interesting countries be used for this? Can someone buy an uninhabited archipelago somewhere and just make one big resort, and get rid of the others?
But my real beef, pork, venison and mutton is with the guided tour. Guided tours kill culture. Why? Because they turn historical, cultural sites into tourism that has no relevance to the modern culture, and exist only for themselves. Let me give you an example: I lived a little over three years in Greece, and visited the Acropolis maybe twice. The reason for this is that the Acropolis is utterly removed from modern Greek culture. It’s a place where tourists go when they visit Greece, because it is utterly “Greek.” But the problem is that the tourism has removed it from Greece. It has next to no archaeological use anymore—what was going to be found has been found—and now it is mostly just being renovated to accommodate the tourists. Visiting the Acropolis is certainly not the way to experience Greece.
I dislike this type of tourism because it comes at the expense of travelling, which I think is a significantly different beast. Travelling is experiencing a country like the people who live there do. Travelling is going to a country and eating in local eateries, listening to music in local clubs, and in general experiencing the culture from the point of view of someone who lives there.
Otherwise what is the point? If you follow the guided tour you take part in something artificial, something which was created to maximize the amount of dollars coming out of your pocket. It might be enjoyable enough, but that’s because it was designed for you to enjoy, not because it has anything intrinsically enjoyable about it. If you want a handjob, there are cheaper ways to go about it.
So here is my advice: cultivate your connections. In a world getting smaller and smaller, make friends with people from other countries, or friends of friends who live in other countries. That way, should you ever find yourself abroad, you know who to look up—someone who will show you around, and help you experience the real country, and not what the airlines want you to see.