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Wing it or Organise it

Travel Forums Central/South America & The Caribbean Wing it or Organise it

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11. Posted by OldPro (Inactive 400 posts) 1y Star this if you like it!

Quoting Borisborough

"What would you call a traveller who does not go on a tour but instead, simply starts out on a trip and sees where it takes him/her? That person is a traveller but not a tourist in my view."

So, going back the the original post, by this definition above, anyone who visits South America and plans (because they have to) to walk the Inca trail is a tourist rather than a traveller and since "...people tend to attach negative sentiments to "tourists"." , therefore viewed as less of a traveller than someone who doesn't plan anything when they venture out. And, by this same definition above, pretty much anyone who has posted a question on this site asking for advice about where to go, what to do and how to get there will be in this "tourist" category rather than the "traveller" category. And anyone who has been to India deliberately to visit the Taj Mahal , to Cambodia to see the Angkor complex, to Tanzania to climb Kilimanjaro, to Venezuela to see Angel Falls amongst anything else they may do, are all in the "lesser" category of "tourist" rather than the "superior" "traveller".

I can't help but think that this definition is a little too restrictive for my liking.

Well yes and no Borisborough. It isn't that simple. For example, by my definition of the difference between the two, if you book a flight to Peru, pre-book a hotel and pre-book the entry ticket for MP, then yes, you are planning a tour and are 100% a tourist. But if you somehow just end up in Cusco from somewhere and decide you want to visit MP from there, then no you are not 100% a tourist, you are much more of a traveller. And by the way, it is NOT a question of "because they have to". There is no have to involved. You can get to MP without walking the Inca Trail if you choose to and you can get an entry permit without having booked well in advance. The assumption of having to book in advance is that all tickets for ALL days are sold out in advance. That simply isn't the case. If you go to the Ministry of Culture office in Cusco or an Authorized MP ticket dealer, you may not find a ticket available for tomorrow but there may be one for next Wednesday. THAT is one of the differences between the tourist and the traveller. The traveller does not have a schedule to keep. If the traveller really wants to visit MP and next Wednesday is the first day a ticket is available, then fine, next Wednesday it is. Now what do I feel like doing between now and then?

I don't want to get sidetracked into what you can and cannot do re MP Borisborough. As an example however, it does show the difference in thinking. Your assumption that you 'have to' book in advance illustrates that difference. I assume I will be able to find a way to visit without booking in advance. And guess what, if you really want to you can. That also applies to pretty much every reason anyone who plans comes up with for why they can't wing it.

Another assumption is that a tourist is a lesser category to a traveller. Who said that? It was certainly not me. I wrote that a tourist plans and a traveller does not plan. All that means is that they are DIFFERENT in THAT respect. It was Peter who said that a negative connotation was attached to the name 'tourist', not me. I do agree with Peter however that there are negative connotation's attached to the name 'tourist'. But generally, they are deserved. The negative connotations do not refer to the person in respect to having planned a tour though do they. They refer to how the person acts.

A tourist OR a traveller can be quite superficial in what they do. Either one could spend all their time just laying on a beach and visiting a bar at night. Either one could have no interest in learning anything about the people and culture of a place. Those are the negative types of connotations that have been attached to the name 'tourist' as in 'he's a typical tourist'. It is not the word 'tourist' that has negative connotations but rather the name 'typical tourist' that has those negative connotations.

It is quite understandable to me that because of that, people do not want to be labeled as a 'typical tourist.' But I am using the name ONLY in terms of someone who plans vs. someone who does not plan. I happen to believe that winging it is better than planning everything and advocate that but I am not suggesting that everyone who does plan is a 'typical tourist' in their behaviour. The word 'tourist' is very clear in its definition. Someone who goes on a planned tour. There is nothing negative in that definition at all.

So if the definition is a 'little too restrictive for' your liking Borisborough, might I suggest that it is YOUR interpretation that you think I am referring to a 'typical tourist' rather than simply just a tourist being someone who plans and there being no connotations beyond that.

Some people plan and some do not, I would welcome any suggestion for 2 names to use to differentiate between those two. I use tourist and traveller to refer to that ONE difference between the two, simply because I don't know what other names to use. I am not responsible for why someone else dislikes being referred to as a 'tourist' but I would happily use 2 different names if someone suggested something else to use. Do you have any suggestions?

12. Posted by Borisborough (Moderator 859 posts) 1y Star this if you like it!

"I am not responsible for why someone else dislikes being referred to as a 'tourist' but I would happily use 2 different names if someone suggested something else to use. Do you have any suggestions?".

Why is it necessary to distinguish between someone who wings it all the way and someone else who doesn't? And why only two categories?

13. Posted by Borisborough (Moderator 859 posts) 1y Star this if you like it!

Oh, I forgot this bit "Your assumption that you 'have to' book in advance illustrates that difference. I assume I will be able to find a way to visit without booking in advance.".

We were talking about walking the Inca trail - that's a four day walk not just an admission ticket to get onto the site. If you have done it yourself (and I assume you have since you are commenting on it in depth) you'll know that you have to get a permit (that's "have to" as in you "have to"). There are 500 available (many go to guides and porters, so about 200-250 for recreational walkers) for each day and all the permits have all been sold up until October 2016.

Now if you want to just rock up to kilometre 82 and start walking, you could risk that but you'll likely get challenged and escorted back to Cusco at best. You could however bribe (or kill) a trekker and take their permit and take their place on the trail but you'll also need to modify your (or their) passport so that the name on the permit matches the passport and avoid the murder rap. Good luck with that one!

If you think you can walk into a travel agent in Cusco and they'll have a spare place, covered by a permit, for you to join a group leaving on the trail tomorrow, all the advice suggests that this just cannot be done - you're welcome to try.

Either way, i think you'll find that you can't just stumble into Cusco and decide "I'm gonna walk the Inca trail tomorrow" and be successful. Carry on believing whatever you want but it would be better for the posters that you're advising if you tell them that these are your assumptions rather than that you know these things as facts.

I think lo.avery summed it up very nicely in post 5.

14. Posted by OldPro (Inactive 400 posts) 1y Star this if you like it!

As I wrote Borisborough, I am not interested in getting into an argument about how you can or cannot visit MP. Why not have the same argument about getting into the Villa Borghese in Rome without pre-booking or to see the Last Supper in Milan? There are all kinds of examples of things you 'must' book in advance. And yet, some people do indeed get in to see them without having booked months in advance. So let's not dwell on MP, it is simply ONE example of something.

The point is that you believe you 'must pre-book' and I do not believe that. You cannot prove doing something without pre-booking is impossible any more than I can prove doing something without pre-booking is possible. So we can only agree to disagree.

Regarding "Why is it necessary to distinguish between someone who wings it all the way and someone else who doesn't? And why only two categories?" The simple answer is, why not?

Why distinguish between anything? Why object to someone choosing to distinguish between anything? It isn't necessary to justify why you want to distinguish between things is it? Some people plan and some do not. If I want to say so, where is the problem? If you want to distinguish between some other factors where people differ, why shouldn't you?

I'm reminded of a time I was sitting in a bar and someone came in and asked the bartender, 'who's driving that classic car parked out front?' The bartender indicated that I was and the person turned to me and asked, 'how come you are driving a car like that?' Before I could answer, the person sitting on the other side of me spoke up and said, 'because he can.' The answer is as simple as that. There does not have to be some big 'reason' or justification for something.

Some people plan and some do not. As a result, what they do with their time differs. One is based on an itinerary and the other is based on whatever opportunities present themselves. One is pretty predictable and the other is not predictable at all. One suits some people's personalities better than the other.

All I am suggesting is that there is a choice that can be made. But some people do not realize there is a choice that can be made. They ASSUME that you must plan travel just as everything in your 'normal' life is planned and regulated. I'm just doing a little upsetting of the apple cart in an attempt to get some people to think about there being a choice.

Every time I have posted on this subject in a travel forum Borisborough, there have always been all kinds of objections to why you can't just wing it. I've never seen any objections posted by people who DO wing it. That's because they obviously know you can.

If I posted and said you can't plan an itinerary, what would you think? What those saying you can't wing it sound like to me is exactly the same. I wing it all the time and yet here you are trying to tell me it won't work. Huh? Someone who does not wing it is telling me that I can't do what I do all the time? Really?

Some things cannot be seen from a given perspective. It requires a paradigm shift in perspective to be able to see them. The paradigm shift in this case is to forget there having to be 'must sees' or 'bests'. There are no such things. Go from that viewpoint.

I'm going to post an unplanned trip in a separate entry below this one Borisborough. It is a description of a real trip that I actually experienced. It is not unique in giving examples of where unplanned travel can take you. I could give you many more examples. Then ask yourself if planning a trip through S. America including pre-boooking MP would have been 'better' use of my time.

[ Edit: Edited on 26-Mar-2016, at 10:16 by OldPro ]

15. Posted by OldPro (Inactive 400 posts) 1y Star this if you like it!

When I 'planned' my first long term trip to Europe, I had a one way ticket to London, $600 in my pocket and no idea of where I would go once the plane landed, no idea of how long I would be travelling for, no travel insurance, no rail passes, no research or guidebooks. Back then (1970), long term travel by young people was not that common but other young travellers whom I met on my trip were pretty much doing the same thing in the same way, no plan at all. All I knew was I wanted to see some of the places I had read/heard about in Europe.

As a result, I think that first trip of mine turned out by necessity to be much more spontaneous and flexible than most of the trips taken by young people today. After a few days in London my friend and I went north (by thumb) to Scotland to visit my relatives for a few days and then back south (by thumb) to get a ferry over to France.

In Paris after a night sleeping on a park bench we met a young girl and ended up staying in her family's home for a few nights. She put us on to a cousin of hers who lived in Provence and whose family grew grapes. We (thumbed) south and spent 3 weeks picking grapes for about $2 plus 2 bottles of wine each per day. We stayed in a shack on the property and walked into the local village for groceries.

We met some other travellers picking grapes and ended up getting a ride to Oktoberfest with a guy who was heading home from picking. We slept on his living room floor for a week and drank beer in great quantities every night. Somehow we got the idea of visiting Rome next and got out our trusty thumbs to get us there.

In Rome we visited all the museums and sites while staying in a hostel near the Spanish Steps. There we met a guy from Jersey (Channel Islands) who had a VW camper and planned to take it across the Med by ship to Africa and drive it from north to south. After some late night discussions of our mutual finances we decided to join him. That led to what can only be called an adventure that sometimes seems beyond belief.

Some of the highlights of that adventure include: crossing the Sahara desert; being held in an oasis town police station and being accused of murder (mistaken identity); moving from mission to mission across central africa and being hosted by missionaries (one day we were catholics and the next day protestants as appropriate); meeting an anthropologist who took us to a pygmy village in the jungle; being given the run of a country club in Dahomey while waiting for a visa; going to a white tie and tails dinner in honour of a new American ambassador to the country, in our blue jeans; entering Uganda on the day Idi Amin took power; being stopped by some ragtag rebels, our van searched and our being taken at gunpoint down a dirt road to an interrogation by an 'officer'; my lying delirious with malaria at the bottom of Mt. Kilimanjaro while my companions were climbing it; being taken in by a kind woman in Mombasa who had her doctor come and see me in her home every day for a week or so; being invited on a cheetah hunt by a farmer who was losing cows (we declined); parting with our friend from Jersey at Victoria Falls (he sold the VW and flew home); being arrested a second time (for trying to sell what the plain clothes policeman I tried to sell it to, thought was a stolen watch); hitchhiking both sides of the road at the same time in order to not get stuck in the middle of nowhere come nightfall; finally arriving in Johannesburg, S. Africa, worn out and broke; being interviewed on national radio as the 'two young Canadians who have travelled the length of Africa'; thumbing on to Capetown and finding jobs to earn enough to get back home; getting the cheapest ticket possible that flew us via Iceland and New York to get to Toronto; arriving in Toronto with 10 cents in my pocket (the price of a phone call to my Father to pick us up); saying to hell with the phone call let's spend our last dime on a real coke and walk the 5 miles home. We had been gone a year less one week.

Nowadays what we see instead are, 'here is my day by day itinerary for my trip of a lifetime, can you tell me if I have missed any must sees and can you also tell me which travel insurance to buy, which rail pass is best and which hostels to stay in on my route. Oh yes, can you also tell me if it would be better to buy a RTW ticket or point to point and whether my budget of X per day is ok. And I almost forgot, how much will the taxi cost from Malpensa airport to our hostel in Rome?'

16. Posted by OldPro (Inactive 400 posts) 1y Star this if you like it!

I have been winging it for 46 years now Borisborough and so far, so good. I don't believe anyone who plans their travels can convince me that they get more out of their travel time than I do. And truth be told, I don't believe anyone who plans their travels gets as much out of their time as I do.

But those who plan are obviously free to disagree with me on that last point. Maybe they have been to a 'must see' that I didn't get to visit because I didn't pre-book it. I can live with that.

17. Posted by Sander (Moderator 5159 posts) 1y Star this if you like it!

You know, I'm quite enjoying this discussion, and want to commend you both for arguing about the content and staying away from personal attacks - but it's quite far off track from what lo.avery was originally asking for, and so not really useful in this particular thread anymore. Could I ask you both to take this discussion to a new thread for the specific purpose of discussing this subject? Thanks!

18. Posted by Borisborough (Moderator 859 posts) 1y Star this if you like it!

This is painful!

I'll break it down into simple chunks for you so that it's easy to understand.

1) The OP ask if it was necessary to pre-book the walk to Mach Picchu or whether he could wing it.

2) Having the experience of walking the Inca Trail (and seeing the disappointment on the faces of people who weren't able to because they didn't pre-book their permit), I advised the OP that the Inca Trail part of his trip would be best pre-booked.

3) You, with all your age-old wealth of experience of winging it still insist that this is not possible (although you don't actually say whether or not you have walked the Inca Trail).

I'm sure that anybody who hasn't fallen asleep with boredom five or six postings ago knows by now that if they want to walk the Inca Trail, they need to pre-book the permit. I wouldn't have thought the OP has any interest in how you winged it in 1970 (I doubt if the OP was even born then) and, even though you don't want it to be about this, how to walk the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu is relevant because that's what this post is all about (and other bits in South America).

Nowhere has anyone said that you can't wing it on your travels - you can do what you want within the law (and probably a few things outside the law too) and I doubt anyone will stop you.

But please don't tell anyone who asks a question here that they have to do things your way because your way is the only way. Everyone here will be happy that you think nobody gets as much out of their travels as you do doing it your way and we're all happy to let you go on thinking that.

Please let me know (preferably in advance) if you go fishing off the coast of Canada, get ship-wrecked, fight off killer-sharks, survive a nuclear war and end up on the shores of New Zealand as you're winging it - I'll need to book my flight out immediately.

[ Edit: Edited on 26-Mar-2016, at 12:23 by Borisborough ]

19. Posted by Borisborough (Moderator 859 posts) 1y Star this if you like it!

Sorry Sander, I was in the middle of posting when you did yours. I've had enough of it now - I won't be posting on this one again. And I'll try to refrain in future! :)

20. Posted by OldPro (Inactive 400 posts) 1y Star this if you like it!

I understand your point Sander. I do think threads take on a life of their own and as the OP had got the answer she wanted to her original question, I did not and do not see any problem with a thread then going in some other direction whatever it might be.

I don't plan to start a new thread on this subject, I am all too aware of how difficult it is for many people to discuss something that is contrary to their own views. There is a saying, 'when emotion comes in the door, logic goes out the window.' I find that to be very true in regards to this subject.

Borisborough, trying to hold on to 'this is about the Inca Trail' does yourself an injustice. You are able to argue your corner, you don't need to avoid the change of subject from the original question. But I will leave it at that.