What is an authentic travel experience?

Ponte Vecchio
The Ponte Vecchio in Florence, Italy, was built in the 14th century and replaced older bridges. It was not destroyed during World War II unlike other bridges in the city. (Photo by Todd DeFeo/The DeFeo Groupe)

ATLANTA (defeo.biz) — People today are often seeking an authentic travel experience. Or, at least that’s what I am told.

But, what does that even mean?

I love websites or companies that promote such a travel experience. By what definition are they promoting an authentic experience?

Say I decide to visit the suburbs. Am I permitted only to shop in chain stores and eat in chain restaurants? Will I have to sit in traffic as a part of my commute since that is what people who live in the suburbs often do on a daily basis?

Presumably, these authentic travel experiences are more about going somewhere exotic, eating at crazy restaurants or seeing the places that are not in guidebooks. But, what happens when too many people seek out these places on their vacation? Does it become less authentic?

Take the Road to Hana on the island of Maui. It is an incredible experience; it is beautiful, treacherous and exotic all at the same time.

The road is also filled with tourists and locals alike. Is that an exotic travel experience? Or, is that a cliched travel experience when on Maui?

In my book, both Maui and the Road to Hana are worth the experience. Just ignore the tourists and enjoy the beauty. A place can still be beautiful in spite of tourists.

I supposed authentic is defined, at least in part, based on the destination. That can be found in the culture, the food and the history.

Take Curaçao, for example. The Caribbean island is one of the most beautiful places in the world.

Its beauty lies in the people. The people are the ones who make the food and who keep traditions alive. They can be found in places like Plasa Bieu (Old Plaza) in Curaçao selling goat stew.

Find that place even if the locals grab lunch at an American chain restaurant.

I guess what I am saying is who cares what someone markting an authentic travel experience says? Make an experience something that is unique, exucational and fun. The more people flock to authentic travel experiences, the more they become the same.

Todd DeFeo
About Todd DeFeo 67 Articles
Todd DeFeo loves to travel anywhere, anytime, taking pictures and notes. An award-winning reporter, Todd revels in the experience and the fact that every place has a story to tell. He is the owner of The DeFeo Groupe and also edits Express Telegraph and Railfanning.org.