Off the beaten path or a resort paradise – what is my type of travel?

To say I am an experienced traveller would be kind of silly. After all, I am only seventeen. In any case, compared to many of my peers, the dozens of trips I’ve taken to 18 different countries do stand out – in numbers, that is. But numbers are not everything if you don’t do it right.

Evening sky of Helsinki / December 2021

I dislike package holidays – TUI, Tjäreborg, you name it. One could argue that I cannot have an opinion about those if I have never tried one: except when I was eight and my parents – for an unexplainable reason – booked a package holiday to Madeira. However, I have ears and eyes and they tell me that unless you lack the language skills AND an access to the internet, package holidays are not for you. I think the beauty of travel is that you get to escape and live in a new culture: and that would be rather hard in case you are staying in a cold chain hotel that lacks all personality and are surrounded by fellow Finns 24/7.

But if it’s not the typical, easy way of travel that so many of my fellow North Europeans seem to love dearly, what is it that I like?

I love sitting on the backseat of a rental car, observing the hustle and bustle of an international airport fade away into small country roads. I love witnessing the souvenir shops disappear as we make our way to villages no package tourist has ever heard of. I love checking in to authentic cottages and B&Bs far from all the Holiday Inns and Hiltons of the world.

Our tiny rental car was a perfect fit for the roads of Yorkshire Dales / England, July 2018

Most importantly, I love diving into the local life: even shopping at a grocery store trying to find flour from the isles only labelled in Slovenian will do. Just anything that makes you imagine you are a local for a little while: even though to the actual locals, you might look just like the tourist holding their map upside down while struggling to find their way to a statue they read about on the internet.

Planina, Slovenia / June 2019

I love nature, so to me, trips to see the natural wonders are the absolute gems of adventure holidays. I think the most beautiful places I have visited so far deserve their own article, but let me just say: YORKSHIRE!

When it comes to city trips, I love making up a clear itinerary beforehand: I think planning in advance fuels the excitement for an upcoming trip. On the other hand, some days need to be spared for getting lost and finding hidden gems – no planning, just hopping on the tram and finding yourself on the other side of the city.

“Travelling – it leaves you speechless and then turns you into a storyteller”

-Ibn Battuta

I also love love love history, and needless to say, European cities are perfect for history buffs like me. I love walking on the cobblestone streets and imagining all the people that have walked them before me in say, the 1600s, and popping to one or two museums every now and then.

I love window seats. I could spend an entire flight or a train journey staring at the views – and filling my phone gallery before even getting into the final destination.

Predjama Castle, Slovenia / June 2019
Balatonboglar, Lake Balaton, Hungary / June 2019

I love trying new food. I have never been picky when it comes to eating – I have never associated food like mussels and squid with the term “icky”. I think food just tastes better when travelling, however stupid that may sound.

The list of things I enjoy the most about travelling could be endless if I had all the time in the world to write. I could chit-chat about funny incidents, learning languages, friendly animals, awesome host families, early mornings, bookshops, walking until my feet are sore, bragging to my friends, etc. However, I think my point has been made quite clear: travelling is, or should be, about finding new places instead of finding a version of your home country that has a bit more palm trees.

Published by Wilhelmiina

I am a 17-year-old Finn who loves travelling the world, writing, reading (and buying) books, learning about science, mathematics and history, watching Netflix and making up crazy plans.

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