Why It’s Okay to Be the Cliché Tourist

Traveling is one of the most enriching ways that we can gain new experiences and perspectives. Each person’s reason for traveling to a certain location may be different, but what they do in that location can have a lot of similarities, whether that be a seeing common attraction or exhibiting common behaviour.

Some scoff at tourists going to see the same thing, posting the same photos, or not having the authentic experience. However, there’s nothing wrong with being the cliché tourist. Some popular attractions are popular for a reason; photos create memories; tourist traps can be fun; tourism is great for the local economy; convenience helps those who are unfamiliar with an area; and you’re allowed to create any type of trip you want. Though there are some tips to remember to be a safe and courteous tourist, there’s nothing wrong with being a little cliché.

There’s a Reason Certain Attractions Are Popular

Often, attractions shape an entire trip to an area. People may not be traveling to Mount Rushmore to see South Dakota, they are probably going to see the faces in the mountain. These attractions shape how we view a location if we’ve never been there. So, of course people want to see Times Square, the Eiffel Tower, or the Vegas Strip. These attractions are popular because others have been in awe by them before. And so, we want to be in awe by them too. There’s nothing wrong with that.

Travelers often use social media to make their decisions. Everyone can remember seeing photos of the Golden Gate bridge, the green water in Fiji, or the vastness of the Grand Canyon — those images inspire us to travel, so of course that’s where we’d go if we traveled there.

You Can Take a Photo and Live in the Moment

Cliché tourists take a lot of photos. But, why wouldn’t they? They are in a new place, seeing new things, and are blown away by their environment. They want to remember it and show their memories to others.

It’s not just the big attractions but also the little nuances of a location that make it special.

In Japan, many tourists take photos of Mount Fuji, but they also take many photos of the little things that make it special, like the cherry blossoms. Many travelers or locals that give cliché tourists a hard time say that more people should live in the moment instead of taking so many photos. However, you can do both. Let people capture the beauty they discover in a photo.

Tourist Traps Are Fun

Seeing the real, authentic side of a city is amazing. But there’s a quirky enjoyment in the tourist traps as well. Roadside attractions, the bus tours in the UK, and the various wax museums may be shameless tourist traps, but they can also be really fun. Not only that, but there’s no better place to find a gift shop to grab a piece of memorabilia from your adventure. It may not be the most authentic experience, but not all experiences have to be.

Tourism Can Be Beneficial for the Local Economy

Tourism wouldn’t exist without the cliché tourist. With tourism comes a lot of valuable money rushing into the local economy. Tourism also leads to more jobs for local workers. This is why cliché tourist attractions can be so helpful for local economies, whether that be a popular museum, a historical building, or even a sporting event. Hosting the Olympics, for instance, has the potential to create jobs and revenue from tourism.

Tourism is important because it involves spending from outside sources flowing inward as opposed to the cycling of money through the local economy.

For this reason, it’s best to let people travel for any reason they want, even if it’s to stand in line at the Vatican.

Convenience Is Helpful for Tourists

Traveling off the beaten path and visiting the areas of a city that the locals visit is a way to see a city from an insider’s perspective. It’s a way to have a travel experience that others may not have had — to create your own adventure instead of mirroring the same trip thousands of others have done before you. However, sometimes being a cliché tourist is just more convenient. As a new visitor, the convenience can be what is best for everyone. It’s a lot easier for tourists to find a restaurant in Pikes Place market than to send them looking for a hole-in-the-wall location in Queen Anne.

Your Trip Is Your Own to Create

The number one reason why it’s okay to be a cliché tourist is because your trip is for you — not for anyone else. If you want to see Disney World, the Sydney Opera House, or Niagara Falls, do it. It doesn’t matter how many people have a photo of it on Instagram, how many locals tell you it’s nothing special, or how many seasoned travelers roll their eyes at how cliché you are. Your experiences are for you to enjoy.

Tips to Remember

Being cliché is not a big deal, but there are some things you should remember in order to be a respectful and safe traveler. Being cliché is one thing, but being disrespectful or harmful is another. That’s one cliché you don’t want to validate:

  • Never hold up pedestrians or traffic for a photo
  • Follow local customs and learn some local language
  • Be a sustainable traveler by leaving things where they are found, taking public transportation, and not littering
  • Try to focus on supporting local business
  • Listen to signs, laws, and warnings — they are there to keep you and everyone else safe

Just about every traveler has been the cliché tourist in one way or another. In a lot of ways, the cliché things are what make tourists interested in traveling to begin with. You should always work to be a respectful guest when you’re visiting somewhere new, but that doesn’t mean you cant see popular attractions or take photos of it. The cliché tourist also helps to boost an area’s economy and share experiences that make others want to visit as well. Next time you’re traveling, don’t worry about being the cliché tourist. Worry instead about creating a trip that you’ll enjoy.

Chelsy Ranard

Chelsy is a writer/blogger from Montana who graduated with her journalism degree from the University of Montana in 2012. She loves drinking coffee, is interested in everything true crime, and her hair is always a mess. Follow her on Twitter @Chelsy5