Real, experiential, travel, often takes us off the beaten track, sometimes in places the government doesn’t want us to go. It’s not about spas, nor flop-and-drop holidays, not shopping sprees, and the further away from the Nanny State, the better (yes Virginia, I might even be off-line at times). Sometimes it’s about backpacking, perhaps because there is no other way to go. Other times, a little well-chosen indulgence – particularly with a companion – can only enhance the experience.
For me, the best airports are the ones comprising just a hut or two beside a grassy strip and a dirt road winding off into the distance. The most enjoyable train rides are not the glass-dome tourist specials, but the scheduled services, and even the milk runs, that local people use to go about their business. And surely the best road journeys are those undertaken, if not with four-wheel-drive engaged, then certainly with all senses alert, not lulled into near-torpor by dual carriageways and asinine speed limits.
Hitch-hiking used to be the ultimate in experiential travel, but seems to have faded into fond (and not-so-fond) memory.
Eating and sleeping are a major part of everyone’s travel experience. Smaller, independent hotels, can be great fun, whether sumptuous or simple, as can Outback pubs, Asian homestays, European rooms-to-let and even the occasional small-town hostel.