Travel abominations according to Anthony Bourdain

2018-03-15 19:00 - Saara Mowlana
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Cape Town - Anthony Bourdain, the face and host of the CNN show, Parts Unknown, has voiced his opinion on the five mortal sins many travellers are guilty of.

Bourdain sat down for a filmed interview with Time Money to share his travel wisdom and distastes.

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So, what are these five travel indiscretions travellers should avoid being sucked into:

Becoming Icarus to the sun of tourist hot spots and attractions

Bourdain wants you to get uncomfortable. It's easy to fall into the trap of choosing the 'clean and safe' options of major EU, UK and US cities like Paris, Rome, London or New York, but to truly experience a memorable travel experience you need to unravel your comfort zone. 

"We tend to be over-concerned with safety and with cleanliness in ways that stand between us," he says. For Bourdain if you travel all the way to Paris to stand atop the Eiffel Tower for a few selfies or travelled to Egypt just to stare at a few pyramids for a couple of hours - you've wasted your money and time.

He suggests uncovering a place's less popular attractions, walking the streets, having awkward but memorable interactions with the locals. Essentially, Bourdain suggests that you actually interact with the place you're in rather than just through a lens for a fleeting moment.

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Frenzied compression fuelled trips

We're so afraid that this is our only chance to see place X, Y and Z that we tend to try and compress them all into the span of a few days or two short weeks. Bourdain says no to this painful, stress-inundated form of masochism and self-sacrificial behaviour! 

"It's punishing," Bourdain says. He elaborates that the sort of frenzied compression of time needed to take this type of tour, to see the plethora of sights, keeps travellers trapped in a bubble and a rushed sense of self.

This, he adds, "...prevents you from having magic happen to you. Nothing unexpected or wonderful is likely to happen if you have an itinerary in Paris filled with the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower."

He suggests limiting yourself to one city per trip - to truly allow yourself to explore the city and immerse yourself in its culture and hidden gems and really enjoy your trip. It's also less stressful on your wallet!

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Playing it safe by the online review book

If you really want to dig into the proper local cuisine or popular local hot spots - don't merely follow the online travel reviews. Bourdain doesn't trust these site suggestions and instead suggests not being afraid to upset the locals with your poor taste in predictable tourist food options. 

Bourdain recommends using a tactic he calls 'provoking nerd fury'.

His method is simple:

If you want restaurant recommendations for a city, Rome being an example he used, merely:

  • Go to a foodie website — one with an active comments or message board section
  • Create a post saying that you just got back from said city, or in this case 'Rome' (even though this is blatantly untrue)
  • Write about your return and the best Italian food you've ever had in your life at one of the popularly suggested or reviewed tourist restaurants (pick one at random)
  • This ought to spark enough food-blasphemy-loathing locals or food fundis to come, fingers blazing on the keyboard, and tell you just how poorly informed your food (and possibly life) choices are while suggesting better options.

"The torrent of informative abuse that will come your way from people who want to tell you how stupid, witless, and uninformed you are will be very instructive. It will, of course, mention the tiny little place, the tiny little trattoria ristorante that they experienced," Bourdain explains.

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Skimping on accommodation

Often when it comes to holiday planning, hotels come secondary to getting tickets - unless, of course, you're looking for a cheap travel package. But, if you follow Bourdain's advice on limiting your travel reach to one city or venue per trip, you could use that extra cash to splurge a bit more on accommodation. 

Afterall, accommodation is important - it's where you're spending your down time between sight seeing, where you're sleeping and where you're leaving your valuables during walkabouts. It should be a place you're comfortable enough to leave your crap - literally and figuratively.

This is why its just as pertinent to book accommodation early along with your flights - at least two to three months in advance, to save some coin on good accommodation and to get the value for your money. 

"I want to find a hotel in a neighbourhood that has charm and character — the sort of place where I can walk to a café, sit down, and feel the place," Bourdain says. "One with a unique look — old colonial hotels are a favourite."

He also suggests staying in an area that's rich with the local culture and community - so that you get to experience the local life even during your down time. Walk outside and engage with the people doing regular things and not just your designated tour guide. 

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Fearing stagnation

One of the biggest travel mistakes we tend to make, according to Bourdain, is not taking it slow and having time to do nothing. We're all so focused and busy chasing the next adrenaline fuelled adventure or next tourist attraction - especially when spreading ourselves across several places in a short period - that we overlook the importance of having an off day. 

He believes that "plans should be ephemeral, so be prepared to move away from them," and suggests that travellers shouldn't be afraid to have moments where they just sit and watch and take in their surroundings without hunting down one Instagram adventure after another.

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Other Bourdain travel tips include:

In a 2015 interview with Food52, Bourdain listed another five handy pieces of travel advice: 

(also featured on Business Insider)

  • Keep it plane and simple: Don't bring food on the plane - avoid food envy and suffer in comraderie at the delicacies of in-cabin complimentary meals.
  • Think twice, be nice: Kindness is important for your travels - if you're rude while travelling or to locals and waitstaff while with Bourdain, consider that bond severed. "We're done forever. I will leave you on the side of the road," Bordain explains.
  • Avoid the crease and dry clean: When you're being filmed, as Bourdain is on his show, a creased shirt is not the best look. He gets his shirts dry-cleaned everywhere he goes — because sometimes "doing as the locals do" just doesn't cut it when you're on camera.
  • Don't shy away from the night sky: Bourdain urges travellers to stay up late and experience the city's night life. Visit the popular local spots under velvet skies and immerse yourself in community fuelled debauchery - or 'experiences'.
  • Risk it for the biscuit: To truly travel in Bourdain fashion, it's important to take risks and be unapologetic about them.  "Not giving a fuck is a really powerful tool," he reasoned. When you're travelling, he encourages you to do things that can't be replicated. You don't have to try to hit every stop Bourdain did — because your experience won't be the same as his. And that's just how he wants it.

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