Seriously, just go travel: why you shouldn’t write off a destination

We travel a ton.  That’s our family schtick:  “2 dads raising their 2 sons and traveling the globe, giving the kids a broad world view. Traveling, parenting, and experiencing culture.”  We like to go to the common tourist destinations and some off-the-beaten-path ones.  It’s good to have a mix.  You never want to hit up a destination too many times and get bored with it.

Do you ever hear somebody mention a destination and you say "Why would you go there?" We've got 4 reasons not to write a place off w/o visiting 2traveldads.comAll too often though I hear somebody say “Oh, you went there?” or “Ooh, was it totally crowded?”  What?  Do people ask these questions because the last time they were someplace they didn’t love it?  Or do they ask these questions because they’ve heard bad things about somewhere and just wrote that destination off as not worth a visit?  

As a dad, I’m constantly asking my four year old “Can you please tell me why you don’t like that?” and it’s usually in reference to food.  No, it’s always in reference to onions.  Jaded travelers or just tired adults are the same way.  Maybe I’m rude, but I always ask (and I can get a little sassy with it) “Can you tell me why YOU don’t like visiting…?”  

Here’s what we’ve learned…

Reputation: once a bad rap, always a bad rap

We live in Washington State.  I’m a west coaster and proud of it.  We’ve got so much awesomeness on the west coast that a lot of people don’t feel the need to venture out.  And if they just ever visit local spots, they’ve got their own thoughts about what an out-of-towner should visit or not. And some places do just have a bad rap.

Rob Taylor and LittleMan La Push Olympic PeninsulaExample:  Forks, Washington – Did you see the Twilight Saga?  Yep, Forks.  Do people in Seattle like to take visitors to Forks?  Nope.  Do visitors find their own way?  Yep.  What is it about Forks that locals don’t like but tourists do?  Well, locals think of it as the rainiest place in Washington and just an old rundown logging town that was the setting for Twilight.  What do tourists think about visiting Forks?  There’s the treaty line of course (I’m team Jacob.  Is that still a thing?), but it’s also the gateway for the Hoh Rain Forest and some of the most epic beaches in the state.  From perfectly calm waterways for river kayaking to incredible lines of surfable waves, Forks is much more than too many Seattlites think.  

I just wish I had an honest stat about how many people from the Seattle area have ever actually visited the destination in question.  Fun activity:  ask somebody if they want to go to Forks for the weekend.  No takers.  Ever.  Except for us, because we know the awesomeness that is the land of the sparkling vampires.

Tip:  if there’s some place local that you haven’t been to but visitors always want you to go to or have questions about, maybe that’s the perfect getaway or day-trip that you have been looking for.  Just sayin’…

A destination can change

Taylor Family on Stone Mountain Park in Atlanta Georgia 1If there was one region of the USA that you’d think a gay family like ours wouldn’t belong or just would totally avoid, where would it be?  I’m just guessing you were thinking it’s the South / Bible Belt.  Know what?  It’s one of our favorite places to go.  It’s funny when people hear that we’re going to Georgia again… Yep, we love it there and we’re as welcome there as we are outside of any metropolitan area.  

Gay families belong everywhere and should travel out.  The people that would treat us poorly or try to cause us harm are so few and far between that we hardly take them into consideration.

Recently I wrote an article about what it’s like for an LGBT family to travel through the South.  The responses I got were mostly surprise and shock.  The gist of the article:  people are nice, we felt welcome, there will be crazies or bigots anywhere.  That shouldn’t keep you from traveling.Stately Oaks Plantation 2traveldads.com

I think if we were traveling with our kids to the rural South ten or twenty years ago we’d tell a completely different story, but in 2016 we feel as at home there as we do in the Seattle area.  True, the likeliness of running into another family like our is minimal in the South, but I know that we’re not alone.  

Tip:  if you’re not sure how your family will feel in a destination, research it.  That’s why us travel blogs exist:  to share our thoughts, experiences and opinions.  And most of us are totally open to questions and dialogue regarding our experiences.

Any destination is more than the drunk Instagram pics college kids post

Cactus Sunset Migrino Cabo Mexico 2traveldads.com“Dude, like, where’s your favorite place for Spring Breakin’ with your bros?”  “Cabo, man.  Sand and shots.”  Okay, that was my best impression of college kids taking a trip south of the border.

One of our favorite family destinations is Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.  Yes, this is the home of El Squid Roe (drunk college kids) and Cabo Wabo (wasted middle-agers).  But it’s also the home of pristine beaches, incredible hospitality and the gateway to all kinds of Mexican history.  

Mature adults that we discuss travel plans with always giggle at us for going to Cabo… and they usually roll out a story of “oh gosh, I remember going there right after I turned 18…” and they think they’d have the same experience now as then.

Taylor Family on Beach Playa Grande Cabo San Lucas Mexico 1If somebody’s had a very memorable experience, for one reason or another, or if a place has a strong stereotype, it can be tough to think of it as anything else.  Especially if they’re not willing to give a second chance.  We have been there as the irresponsible dudes and as the parents with young kids, and it’s perfect… for either demographic.

Tip:  go off the beaten path when you’re in a destination that’s clearly marketed for tourism.  You’ll find some incredible sights, unexpected experiences and genuinely wonderful people.  And the prices are usually a lot more reasonable too.

 

Even in a crowded place, you can still relaxHTH Tower of Terror from Bugland

“We’re waiting until the kids are older to go” or “Disneyland is for children.  Do you actually enjoy it?” or “There are just so many people.”  When was the last time you were in a Disney park?  It’s totally true that Disney parks have huge crowds, but it’s also true that not every time of year or every day of the week is that way.  And do you know what?  There are actually places that you can sit and relax and people watch.  Taking kids to Disneyland is an awesome experience, and yes, it is crowded, but that’s easily dealt with.  While I’m not here to hand out travel tips at the moment, here’s one:  ask for help finding a quiet spot when you just need a break.  The Magic Kingdom or Disney’s California Adventure have some nice areas tucked away.  And if you’re lucky, you might even score a glass of wine (but not everywhere).

Rob Taylor and LittleMan Alice in Wonderland DisneylandThe same goes for traveling to cities.  All around the world there are wonderful parks and green pockets in cities.  If you’re worried about taking kids someplace where they don’t have play space, take a moment to research and see if that’s actually the case.  If you’re waiting until your kids are teenagers to visit historical and cultural sites, um, why are you?  Start kids with experiencing all kinds of environments early so they can be aware of the many types of people and places in the world, densely populated and not.

Tip:  the resources for making the most of a Disney Park visit are countless.  Use them!  The parks themselves also have created resources online to be helpful.  And there’s, of course, us bloggers to check with!

Tip 2:  be thoughtful in your lodging choices in a city, as small kids are tough to occupy happily in a concrete jungle.

Just go see for yourself

Taylor Family at Lighthouse Cape Flattery Olympic Peninsula 1Stop judging our travel choices.  We will enjoy wherever we go despite what people think.  We can deal with crowds.  We’re not going to take the kids to a tourist bar so they can learn about taking shots.  We’re going to travel to unusual places with varied cultures where WE will be the minority.  We’re going to see for ourselves if a place is worth visiting.  

Since all of the sudden I am in the mood to hand out free advice, here’s a nugget:  don’t discount a destination or somebody else’s travel desires; everybody finds their own value in where they go.  If you think somebody’s making a poor choice about visiting somewhere, maybe you should go with them and see for yourself and maybe you too will see that all parts of the world are worth exploring.

22 Comments

  • Liz

    Totally agree with this. I have seriously never been to a place that I didn’t like. Not because I avoid going to some places, but because everywhere I go, I manage my expectations. I don’t go to a party island and then expect to have a relaxing time. I go to a party island and have fun! And my pet peeve is people giving advice on where NOT to go without having actually been there. I think every place has a special something and the challenge is going there and finding it out. 🙂

    February 21, 2016 at 10:36 pm
  • Henar

    Haha I have had the same experience over and over again, And when you ask why/why not? You can’t really get a straight answer. I guess is the lazy way out in us, once we hear something about a place or a person from someone else, it’s easier to accept that as the truth than to go there yourself and challenge those opinions! Hopefully it will change soon or a lot of people are going to miss out on a lot of wonderful places ^^

    February 22, 2016 at 4:33 am
  • Shelly

    I totally agree, I have ever been anywhere that I have absolutely hated. I have even visited places that I remember as a kid as having a bad rap and loving the place. I thinking about you Buffalo, NY! Get out there and see the world, even if it’s in your own back yard.

    February 22, 2016 at 5:16 am
  • Anshula

    “Any destination is more than the drunk Instagram’s college kid’s picture.” This is so true. I feel like I can’t just write off attending Oktoberfest in Germany just because I’ve seen way to many of those kinds of pictures. We can’t really write off destinations when we haven’t experienced them ourselves. Love this post!

    February 22, 2016 at 6:34 pm
  • Anne

    Some of my favourite places have been the least expected and places I was advised not to go like Philadelphia for instance.

    February 22, 2016 at 7:22 pm
    • Rob Taylor

      We always joke about Pittsburgh being a place not to go… but then it’s so cool! What is it about PA cities?

      February 23, 2016 at 6:05 am
  • Ami

    I so agree with most of the points. To me ….seeing is believing. A lot of people have shared opinions about some place that they haven’t liked and so far whenever I have been there, I have so loved them. Best way to form an opinion is to experience it.

    February 22, 2016 at 8:10 pm
  • Hung Thai

    Agree with your strategy to go to both touristy destinations and off the beaten paths. Touristy destinations are touristy for a reason – they have something to offer

    February 22, 2016 at 8:18 pm
  • melody pittman

    You don’t need to tell me twice! I totally agree, what works for some people may not for others, and vice versa. At least give it a try and form your own opinions. I like to try anything once but if I didn’t enjoy it, I’m sure as heck not wasting any more of my time. Forks…of course #teamedward would be the only reason I would have known to go there. LOL 

    February 22, 2016 at 8:18 pm
  • Tarah Vongbouthdy

    So agree with you! I think its so important to just go and experience a place for yourself. People are always going to have their own opinions, and I think most of the time it isn’t even based off their own experience but by what they heard or maybe saw on the news!

    February 22, 2016 at 10:16 pm
  • Heather

    Every place has something to like or learn from it…one just has to have an open mind. Shoulder season or off season are great times to visit usually crowded places. And who doesn’t like Disneyland at any age?

    February 23, 2016 at 4:55 am
  • Natasha

    What a great post!! I personally feel as if it’s always easier to make excuses for anything in life — then to make a plan and go do something!!! I think sometimes that’s why we get these types of questions about destinations.

    February 23, 2016 at 7:32 am
  • Lies

    I completely agree with everything you’re saying! I don’t really care about what people say, if I want to go see it, I’ll go see it. One that annoyed me the most was about South Africa, we were going for two months, and the first thing everyone would say is: “Is it safe for you to go there?”. I still went and it was an amazing holiday. And I love going to Disneyworld, even though I’m 29 😀

    February 23, 2016 at 11:48 am
  • Patricia - Ze Wandering Frogs

    Everybody is different and will experience the place differently. Plus people will like for different things. Some might be the rainy day, some the quaint feel, other the quiet time. Just go and try it out. You might even like it so much you would go back 🙂

    February 23, 2016 at 12:01 pm
  • Menorca

    True! Different people will have different opinions based on their own experiences..but no one should really hand out advice before they have even visited the place themselves! Best is to just go wherever you want to and see for yourself whether or not you’d like to get back!

    February 23, 2016 at 12:12 pm
  • Stephanie

    I agree with this! My home city Liverpool often has a bad rap. It’s actually an amazing city with beautiful architecture, a great nightlife and friendly people. Many people told me not to go Vang Vieng in Laos, I absolutely loved it! Experience somewhere for yourself and don’t always listen to others 🙂

    February 23, 2016 at 2:45 pm
  • Voyager

    Travelling in many ways is also a kind of self expression and exploration and needs to be viewed in that perspective, keep travelling and enjoying life, that’s what life is all about 🙂

    February 23, 2016 at 10:10 pm
  • Ajay Sood

    My travel does not take any review/reputation into consideration. It is completely independent of that. I agree with your views completely!

    February 24, 2016 at 6:45 am
  • Marianne @ Mum on the Move

    Absolutely – I have been guilty in the past of not going somewhere because ‘it’s rainy season’ or ‘too busy at that time of year’ – but then you end up never going! Just go and make the most of what you can do when you’re there. You’ll never regret going somewhere, but will in all likelihood regret NOT going.

    February 26, 2016 at 5:53 pm
  • Cynthia

    You brought up some really good points! Different people will experience the same place differently. I completely agree that we shouldn’t not visit somewhere just because others had something negative to say about it.

    February 29, 2016 at 5:32 pm
  • samiya selim

    That pretty much sums up how we feel about travelling to popular destinations and places where people give us strange looks as to why we would want to go there! I wouldn’t totally agree about the crowded part, as we have done the really popular places like Venice, Disney and Rome during off season and peak and really enjoyed the off season times more, BUT would not stop us from going there for sure! I feel the same about local places , people tell us Auckland must be so much better than Sheffield, England, but honestly we loved all the local places we visited back ‘home’ as well and I don’t see it as a comparison. Let’s not even go into why people say why we want to travel in Bangladesh?! Spot on ” We’re going to travel to unusual places with varied cultures where WE will be the minority. We’re going to see for ourselves if a place is worth visiting” 🙂

    March 1, 2016 at 12:35 pm
    • Rob Taylor

      Exactly! I think living in and visiting places that others would consider ridiculous or second rate is such a wonderful experience, as you just truly never know what surprises you’ll find.

      March 1, 2016 at 4:08 pm

Leave a Reply