Thanks, WordPress. Last week when I was setting up my blog, you asked me for my Site Title. Easy. I like anything with my name attached to it: street signs, monuments, schools, etc. Road Trip Randy was the obvious choice. But after that, you told me I should have a tagline, too. I hadn’t given a tagline much thought, but figured it must be a good idea if you were suggesting it.
Rewind two years.
I’m on a boat in Vietnam (not the small one in the photo above). My friends and I just signed up for a three-day boat cruise in Halong Bay, one of the seven natural wonders of the world! It’s cold and cloudy, but our captain assures us we’ll still be able to do everything on our itinerary including rock climbing, island camping, and cliff jumping. Hours later he tells us that it’s all been cancelled due to the weather. Instead we’ll learn how to make spring rolls from the chef. Unimpressed, we decide to go to our cabin and drink the 24-pack that we brought (snuck on) with us.
A couple months later, I’m in in China heading to the Great Wall. I got a great deal on a packaged tour. What I didn’t know is that before they take you to the Great Wall, they take you to a jade museum, a pearl exhibit, a tea ceremony, a silk shop, and a foot massage place. Cool extras…unless they also take you to the fake Great Wall that’s nothing more than a fancy staircase.
Soon after, I’m in the sweaty, but awesome city of Bangkok, Thailand.* I’m on a bus headed to go pet tigers! We stop at a few places on the way and when we arrive at Tiger Temple, they tell us they’re about to close. They’ve already begun putting away the tigers!
What do these three stories have in common besides extreme momentary rage and depression? Guided Tours. You know what I say to that? GO TRIP YOURSELF! Side note: What’s great about this saying is that you can replace “trip” with another four letter word and it still accurately describes my feelings toward guided tours.
Guided and packaged tours can be okay… sometimes. When you’re in a foreign country and you don’t speak the language, sometimes the easiest way to see the sights is to hop on a tour bus with a bunch of other people that look like you. It’s easy to plan and very convenient. However, the pros of guided tours end there. Guided tours only want your money. They’ll take you to the sites, but they determine how long you stay. They determine what time you get there. They determine what part of the attraction you go to. They determine what stops you have to make before getting there. They have complete control of your vacation from the moment you get in that van or bus to the moment you get out.
That’s why I like tripping myself. I control what I see. Sure it’s a little more work and possibly a little more money, but in the end, well worth it. In China, I was so disappointed with my Great Wall scam tour that I hired a private taxi the next day and spent three hours by myself at the real Great Wall. It cost me $50 bucks and was one of the coolest experiences I’ve ever had. No more guided tours for this guy!
And that’s why I love my new WordPress-inspired tagline. It fits. It has meaning that goes beyond the surface and its conspicuous, alternative insult. It motivates you to go do things on your own and create your own path- to not just follow everyone else because it’s easy. I struggled with this a lot as a kid.** Don’t do something just because everyone else is doing it… unless it’s really, really fun- or something normal, like eating bread.
So the next time someone invites you on a great packaged tour, tell them to go trip themselves. Make your own adventure.
*Let’s clear this up so I don’t sound like one of those world traveling jerks. That year of travel was cool, but the way I wrote it makes it sound like I just hopped to exotic locations whenever I pleased. Most of my year in Asia was actually spend in an 8x8ft “classroom” with no window.
**As a kid, my parents and my friends’ parents always tried to warn my friends and me about peer pressure. Whenever we did something just because someone else did it, they’d ask: “If so-and-so jumped off a bridge, would you??” I always answered with a resounding “YES!” It really annoyed them. But honestly, what a silly question to ask a seven-year-old.