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Tuesday, June 18
The Indiana Daily Student


‘Efficient exploration’ – an oxymoron

CANTERBURY, England - In a society of multi-tasking consumers and technology-driven lives, efficiency is the key to success.

Each task in one’s day must be performed in the best way possible, utilizing the least amount of time,  in order to ensure that we follow Horace’s ancient advice, “carpe diem.”

After all, our lives are short, and there never seem to be enough hours in a day to accomplish everything we’d like.

So why not extend this concept of efficiency into our leisure times – travel? After all, if you’re really going to work hard and play hard, you should travel just as efficiently as you work, no?

It is upon this principle that modern tourism business thrives.

Geared toward that over-achieving, multi-tasker in all of us, travel agencies around the world are teeming with opportunities for people to see “everything” a city, nation or even region of the world has to offer in time spans ranging from one day to one week.

Visit London and you can see the entire city in one day. Fly to France, and you can see the entire country in three days. Or why not see all of Europe in five days, with one of the many economical “Travel Europe” packages?

While the appeal is obvious – after all, not all of us have all the time in the world to see and do the things that we want – I can’t help but cringe every time I see one of these tours advertised. The injustice that it does to each of the places and its people is just too great.

Think of where you grew up, or the place where you have spent the majority of your life.

Regardless of how long you have lived there, there are probably still places and people that you have not discovered, adventures waiting to happen, given the right amount of free time and an attitude of exploration.

Once you enter a new city or country, the number of adventures and new experiences waiting to be had expand infinitely.

With so many opportunities, why reduce yourself to something as mundane as a generic tour? You’ll be missing more than you’ll be seeing.

In the true spirit of wanderlust, I believe that the only way to really appreciate a new place is to explore it on your own.

Do a little reading beforehand and chart out your own personalized tour, seeing what you want to see and leaving room to explore the places in between.

I have already learned countless times on my journeys that the most interesting things are found off the beaten path of sightseeing tours and pre-planned excursions.

Or, if you’re feeling really adventurous, don’t plan at all. Get lost. Yes, you read that correctly. For a real adventure, go somewhere you have never been before and simply rove.

As you orient yourself, remembering where you have been and charting your new paths, you will see your new surroundings in a completely different light than you would if someone else were leading you around.

Yes, I have been on a sightseeing tour before. The tour guide was charismatic and enjoyable to listen to, and I saw a lot of very nice things in a short amount of time.

But in the end, I felt like I could have gotten the same thing out of watching a documentary on television. The sense of fulfillment after a day of guided sightseeing is nothing like the feeling of having truly explored a city on your own.

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