ALTERNATIVE TRAVEL

We're really just a pair of weirdos

We always prioritise travel to places that are in some way, weird, unusual or just plain off the beaten path.

Why?

Well, because we just aren't that impressed by large crowds and over hyped monuments.

So what do we mean by alternative travel?

Alternative. Unique. Weird and wonderful. Unusual. Off the beaten path. They all mean something slightly different - that's the beauty of the English language, after all. But after lots of hair pulling, head scratching and reflective discussion, we've settled on 'Alternative' as the overarching term.

Doesn't quite work for you? Don't worry, we're still on the fence, as well.

But what the hell does it mean?!

Well here are some examples (as dark tourists, these sites do tend to lean in that direction, but that isn't always the case! If it's weird and interesting, then we're intrigued!):

- Street art! Street art is growing rapidly in popularity, but it remains part of the 'alternative scene.' Plus street art is criminalised in nearly every country, which makes an interest in it kind of fringey. Maybe in a few more years, we'll change our tune. But for now, we're counting it! Head to our street art page for more factoids, photos and favourite artists. Or find out how a London street art tour changed our entire perspective on street art.

- A country that isn't particularly popular or well known, such as Latvia, Lithuania or Bhutan (although it's getting pretty famous now that the British Royals have climbed it, and it's kind of the main thing to do there we still include Bhutan's famous Tiger's Nest because the country itself is so off the beaten path - it's our website, we make the rules!).

Wood carving of a snake at the Hill of Witches in Lithuania
Prayer wheels in Bhutan

- Small towns - or even cities - that often get overlooked, but shouldn't be. Examples of some of our favourites include Crowland and Coventry (both in the UK).

- Museums that don't tend to pop up on your standard Top 10 Must Visit Places lists, or even in a lot of guide books. Some museums like this that we can't shut up about are the Katyn Museum in Warsaw, Poland and the East Grinstead Museum in England.

Chess set from the Katyn Museum in Warsaw, Poland
Models of artificial limbs for burn victims at East Grinstead Museum

- Historical sites that aren't getting the attention they should. Many people have heard of Auschwitz-Birkenau - and that's a good thing, because it is important! - but not many people know about other, similar sites like Salaspils or Lidice. Have you? I'm betting you didn't raise your hand.

- We also enjoy finding alternative and unusual places within popular cities. Check out our guides for getting off the beaten path in Prague, unusual dark tourism sites in London or alternative things to do in Krakow.

Alternative Prague Itinerary
Alternative Dark Tourism in London

- And sometimes we find off the beaten path destinations that may involve a bit of a trek, but that are well worth the effort. Probably our favourite ever is the Hill of Witches in Lithuania.

- Finally, we have to rep dark tourism. Almost all of our dark tourism posts are alternative travel. This is in part because dark tourism itself is a form of alternative travel. But also because many of the sites we visit just aren't known. That having been said, when we write about Auschwitz (and we will), we won't be including it on this page because it is popular as fuck. Visit our dark tourism page for more info, types of dark tourism, sites and discussions, and why we think dark tourism matters.

Oh, and sometimes we travel with a biscuity friend!

The Golem with Anna Chromý's Il Commendatore Statue outside The National Theatre in Prague

Why do we love alternative travel?

There are few things better than showing up somewhere awesome and realising you're the only person/people there. If you find yourself in a dark tourism site, this can make it even more impactful and allow for deeper introspection. Likewise, having a museum to yourself allows you to spend more time with each piece.

And it feels incredibly rewarding to discover a place that even locals don't know about. Especially if that place is amazing.

In Warsaw, we introduced both our local friends and our AirBnb host to the Interactive Pinball Museum after 2 straight days of pinballing.

Some people count countries, but we consider it a badge of honour to find cool places no one else knows about. Which is why, even in incredibly popular cities like London, we strive to get off the beaten track.

Why does alternative travel matter?

Overtourism is a bit of a buzzword in the travel industry right now, and for good reason. As the world becomes more globalised and more people try to chase the trends, overtourism is a real concern. Cities like Barcelona and Lisbon have already become victims of travel trends. In both cities, many locals are no longer able to even afford to live in the city as corporations are buying up properties and renting them at increased rates on AirBnb.

In Lisbon, locals often struggle to get to work on time as there are too many tourists using public transport during rush hour. Specifically the famous Tram 28.

Overtourism in Prague: Crowds in Prague during winter

Crowd waiting outside the astronomical clock in Prague during winter

In cities like Venice, nearly the entire economy has evolved to thrive around tourism. Making it so that jobs that don't cater to this are few and far between, forcing people out of their homes - if they can even still afford them; in the last three decades the number of Venice's residents has more than halved dropping from over 120,000 to 55,000. To combat this, Venice has instated a daily tourist tax to help offset to damage.

And who can forget the Maya Beach in Thailand! This beach was made so famous by the Leonardo Dicaprio film The Beach - ironically about an unknown, quiet beach - that it had to officially close down in June 2018. It was supposed to open later that year, but has instead remained closed indefinitely to allow for the ecosystem to repair itself.

They're not the only ones, earlier this year The Netherlands announced they were working on a plan to discourage tourists from visiting the country.

WE'RE NOT SAYING DON'T TRAVEL

But it is important to be mindful of where we travel to. And that is why we love alternative travel. You can still go to popular places, but be mindful of where you stay and where you visit. Try visiting somewhere a little less unknown. It might surprise you.

It can be incredibly easy to make little adjustments on the road in order to be a more responsible traveller

For starters, if you're in Lisbon, maybe lay off the famous Tram 28 ride. Yeah, it will show you all the must see sites, but there are a dozen other tram lines that all offer a different view and insight into the city - and taking one, especially in the middle of the day, wont have the same impact on locals trying to get from A to B. Why not take a chance and hop on one?

Crowd waiting to get 'the' Instagram shot in Chefchaoune

Crowd waiting to get 'the' Instagram shot in Chefchaoune, Morocco

Likewise, there are literally hundreds of beaches in Thailand, and a lot of them remain fairly untouched. Why not find a beach to call your own? Don't believe me? Here's an excellent article about Koh Wai, one of Thailand's less touristed beaches.

Even if you don't care about the aforementioned (although you should!), then do you really want to spend your entire holiday waiting in line to see something everyone else has seen? To get the same photo everyone else has?

We tend to feel quite different about these kinds of places, considering most of them to be tourist traps and never as impressive as I've been led to believe. But we are in the minority. Nevertheless, we will NEVER think waiting in line for a few hours to see a 'Must See' site is worth it.

Been there, done that, and honestly the postcard was better than the real thing.

So, save the planet, help the locals out and do yourself a favour and get off the beaten path. Explore the alternative side of a city, or a country you never considered before. You'll thank us later.


All Alternative Travel Articles

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