What Makes an Indie Traveller?

Here’s the prompt from the WK2 BootsnAll challenge. Indie travel. What do you think? Are you an indie traveler? What do you think makes someone an indie traveler? Let’s tackle the second question first. Interestingly, everyone who attempts this challenge will consider themselves indie travellers. As do I. There is this glamour factor involved, a notion not too dissimilar to the oft discussed traveller vs. tourist debate. By being a traveller, or in this case an indie traveller, we have supposedly more travel cred than the family that goes to Disneyland in a tour group. And admit it, we all think ourselves as the elite cream of the travel crop, turning our noses up at those lesser beings on their guided tours.

But what exactly is Indie travel? The general consensus is that indie (independent) travel is travelling to a location and soaking in the culture, blending in with the local populace, trying out the food, public transport and markets, that kind of thing. But does doing all these truly make someone an indie traveller? The guy who tells everyone back home that he spent the holiday “chilling out with the locals” over a beer; I don’t think that necessarily makes him an indie traveller.

Since the prompt asks for MY opinion, my subjective view is therefore as follows: For me, indie travel means to integrate ourselves into the daily life and goings-on of the destination. Our presence should not cause a drastic change in the behaviour and daily activities of the people we visit. Of course, there will be some interaction, but this in my opinion can be minimised. By blending in, it is something akin to looking through the window (but up really close!) and leaving little or no footprint.

Hence the term indie traveller holds a higher connotation in this respect. It is not just travelling to shop, see sights & monuments. It’s a badge that is attainable only when one learns to fully immerse, understand and appreciate the traditions, culture and beliefs of the place.

So step back and humbly acknowledge that while we are pretty nifty travellers, becoming an indie traveller is a goal that we all should strive towards.

The Indie Travel Challenge is a year-long blogging project. Every Monday, Bootsnall will post a new prompt, question, or challenge that bloggers can respond to via text, photos, or video.