The Ugly Face of Tourism

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 A Journal Entry written while traveling in Peru 

 (Ollantaytambo, Peru)

It's so sad looking around me... the little old lady with her sidewalk stand selling little cheese sandwiches, mate, coffee, etc honestly for one sole. Smiling at passerby's. All around are numerous restaurants catering to tourists, large signs written in English, "American Breakfast". These restaurants selling the same little cheese sandwiches and coffee, yet on nicer plates and fancier chairs, for ten times the price. And the mindless tourists looking for the comfort of home. Those tourists who travel for the sites yet never look at the culture and beauty that lies right around those sites. Those who balk at the "uncleanliness" of local food. At the little lady that washes our coffee cups with her little bucket of hot water on the side of her little sidewalk stand instead of in a large commercial mass produced dishwasher. The tourists keep flocking in like sheep to their massive tourists restaurants eating and drinking for ten times the price, throwing their crisp bills at these money hungry tourist restaurants, surrounded by other gringos and closing their eyes to all that surrounds their closed little perfect world within mass tourism. All the while the little old lady catering kindly, honestly, and patiently to anyone that wants to stop and share a story or two or listen to a few tales while eating their cheese sandwiches and drinking hot coffee. Locals and tourists alike, treating all the same, complaining about the cold, scolding us like a sweet grandmother for not finishing the last drop of our "pachi" (hot mashed bean drink) because the last part has all the vitamins... honestly and kindly with her worn and torn shoes, constantly with a honest, sweet smile on her face.

Please share similar experiences below! 

Why you should travel with a baby

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We have now taken Leila our 20-month-old to 11 countries traveling with us. She has been on 28 planes, couchsurfed, hitchhiked, countless trains, buses, taxis and motorcycles, played with children in villages, been passed around during traditional ceremonies, celebrated Ramadan, blessed by a Hindi holy man, and much more. She will not remember it so why take her?

 Before we had a child, everyone said, “just wait, once you have a baby you won’t be able to continue traveling like you do”, “kids are expensive”, “kids are difficult”. So other than just wanting to show people that yes, it is possible and yes you can enjoy it we also want to continue experiencing the world its sites, nature and people so why wouldn’t we bring her with us?


Here are just a few reasons to travel with a baby:

1) It does not cost more. Under 2s are almost always free. They do not cost that much extra especially if they are breast feeding. Transportation they are usually free or way cheaper, they do not have to pay entry fees or need an extra hotel bed and they really do not eat much,

International plane rides are almost free just pay taxes and fees and usually people will accommodate you to have an entire row! 


2) You are less likely to get ripped off. People love babies and toddlers and are more likely to help, give up their seat, etc. and very rarely going to charge you more.


3) You will make friends with locals. When you have a baby, people are curious. They want to say, “hi”. Having a child with you removes a barrier and automatically gives people a reason to come chat. If kids are around your child will automatically be drawn to them thus throwing you in with the locals. If you, like us, want to travel to understand the culture and life of locals this makes it so much easier.

Not only are babies free in transportation but you get lots of free babysitters (aka locals super excited to play with the baby)


4) You will see things differently. You do things you would not normally do- stop at playgrounds, stop so a local can tickle your baby, stop at zoos. You see things through their eyes and your joy also comes from seeing their joy.


5) You will take it slow. With a baby you slow down, look at the little cat or flower, stop for naps, etc. You will also get more time to enjoy your little one.


If you want to travel with you kid(s) do not let the naysayers convince you otherwise. It is possible and it is worth it!


Only negative part of traveling with a baby: It's harder to take pictures and hold a baby
Only negative part of traveling with a baby: It's more difficult to take pictures while holding a baby