What is an Independent Traveler?
There is a certain philosophy that the independent traveler adheres to. While the tourist looks for comfort, convenience and a home away from home, the independent traveler prefers to become part of the culture as much as possible. The independent traveler likes to leave home behind.
There are many different terms in use to describe independent travelers. A hobo, in this sense, is someone without a home, spends very little or no money, and travels to work. A backpacker is a traveler on a budget who’s luggage is usually a single backpack. A flash packer has more money to spend than the hobo or backpacker, but still prefers the lifestyle of independent travel.
Regardless of the term used, independent travelers share a common philosophy.
The Independent Traveler:
1) Does Not Like to be Pampered
Independent travelers have a distaste for typical, over-priced packaged tours. They avoid rigid itineraries, instead preferring to plan their own trips. Rather than being pampered during their travels, independents feel more comfortable on their own. When one is told when to eat, where to go and how long to stay, it is like putting a noose on experience. Independents rely on their own judgment, they do not let others think for them or tell them what to do.
2) Spends Less Money to Enjoy More
The less money an independent traveler spends, the more he or she enjoys the trip. Big spending tends to isolate the traveler from new, vibrant experience. Rather than getting caught up in the consumer trap of buying expensive souvenirs, paying for useless accessories and the “convenience” of doing what you are told to do on a tour, independents do more of the things they enjoy doing, rather than buying things that distracts one from the experience of the trip.
3) Travels Light
Traveling with lots of luggage is a huge inconvenience that costs the traveler time, money and worry. All those things that tourists take with them on vacation actually impedes the trip, rather than enhance it. One of the purposes of travel is to enjoy what is there, not what is at home. Traveling light provides more freedom for the traveler and instead of baby-sitting all those “important” material possessions one can focus on experiencing life.
4) Becomes Immersed in the Culture
It is very difficult, even impossible, to experience a new place or culture when you are sheltered in a tour bus, or in a fancy hotel. The only way to maximize the experience of new things is to step into them and participate with an open mind. One travels to a foreign place to experience the foreign. Yet, too often the tourist erects shields to become isolated from the foreign experiences sought. The independent traveler does not fear what is foreign, but seeks it out and slowly, courteously, attempts to let it become a part of his or her life.
5) Goes with the Flow
Worry kills enjoyment. Time schedules, tasks and material things contribute to worry. When worry pounds away in your head you cannot truly experience what is there. It is easy to see with the eyes, it is an art to understand with the mind. The independent traveler knows that not everything always goes to plan; a flight might be canceled, a bus could be delayed, the weather may not be ideal. With a tight schedule these things could ruin a trip. With flexibility one can actually learn to enjoy them. Sometimes things happen for a reason. Sometimes you can find without seeking.
6) Believes that a Vacation is an Education
When one continues to do the same things one has always done, he or she will continue to receive the same results. Travel to the independent is more than a vacation, it is an education. Independent travel allows the individual to try new things, to see beyond one’s mental and cultural background, to experience, to learn and to grow. When one travels with an open mind learning becomes a delightful activity. Acquaintances learn from the traveler, the traveler learns from them, and therefore learns more about his or her person than otherwise would be possible. Learning extends beyond the four walls of a classroom to include the world.
7) Enjoys Freedom
To achieve freedom one does not need more. One needs less. The independent traveler has very few time constraints, material possessions, itineraries and lists of things to do. The independent is free to take advantage of any opportunity that comes along. The independent may stay up late to watch the sun set, wander into an isolated village, discover healing rituals of a disappearing culture, enjoy extra time with old friends and accept the gracious hospitality of new ones. The independent traveler understands that baggage should be left at home.
Leave things behind to take the world with you.