There’s always room for the offbeat

North Side Skull and Bones GangI can’t count the amount of times I heard, “Oh yuck—too crowded with drunk college kids” when I told people I was going to New Orleans for Mardi Gras. The problem is, the folks who commented had never been there, and their perceptions of the annual event stemmed from TV news footage of just one thing during an entire season of Carnival. While I was in New Orleans, I avoided the jam-packed crowds on Bourbon Street and was able to have some genuine offbeat experiences in a city at the height of peak tourism.

It reminds me that it’s completely possible to go to a major city or tourist destination, and still have an exceptional experience. We don’t always have to go off the beaten path to have a life-altering vacation memory. Don’t think, “I’m going to breeze through Cusco, because the Amazon rain forest is going to knock my socks off.” Yes, it will knock your socks off, but so might the candlelit midnight parade through the streets of Cusco that you just happened to catch because you forgot how to get back to your hotel. Do both.

The ability to have an offbeat moment in a non-offbeat place merely requires that we keep our eyes and minds open. Keep the scheduling to a minimum and just wander and notice things. Get up early and see things you’d miss if you were sleeping in. Stay up late instead of going back to the hotel to watch CNN. We have the opportunity to reinvent ourselves a little, each time we travel. Why not start with challenging our perceptions of what it means to be in a particular place at a particular time?

If I’d chucked the notion to visit New Orleans during Mardi Gras, I may have missed walking with the North Side Skull and Bones Gang early Mardi Gras morning, after I just happened to open my front door when they passed by. I grabbed my camera and ran after them, and am left with a lifelong memory.

When you consider your next destination, stop before you rule out anything. Rethink the experience you want to have and take a hard look at your options. You just may be skipping over your next great discovery.

Posted by | Comments (3)  | February 26, 2010
Category: Languages and Culture, Lifestyle Design, Simplicity

3 Responses to “There’s always room for the offbeat”

  1. Brett Says:

    Great post, thanks for the reminder…

  2. Sabina Says:

    Great advice!

  3. Rebecca Travel-Writers-Exchange Says:

    Great post! You never know what you’ll find if you don’t take the time to look for it or have an open mind.