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3. SIT Country/City/Sites: (full)

SITs have maximum freedom & flexibility to design their most desired itinerary mix of countries, cities, and sites, from Tier 1 major sites to the remote or obscure.   Limited only by their imagination, research & planning, physical well-being, prudent judgment, and initiative,             SIT travelers can go almost everywhere. 

While tours & cruise excursions are usually limited to the ‘nearby’, SIT travelers can go wherever a local is willing to go. In most places, if you’ll pay,  a local will take you anywhere.

     Anecdote: In Ollantaytambo, Peru:      I wanted to visit an old Inca ruin far up the mountain and then hike. back down to town through the Inca's vast terraces still being farmed.

A man with a beat-up car & I agreed on a price to the ruins. We bounced up a bad dirt road best for 4-wheelers. I got there & he made some money. Win-win.     

                                                              Anecdote: China’s Longi Rice Terraces:  Returning at dark to the small town a few miles down the mountain from Dazhai village where I began my long hike over the rice terrace, I needed a ride back to Dazhai village, but no more buses

I finally talked a young village man into taking me to Dazhai on his motorcycle for an agreed-upon (high) price. Halfway up, in the dark, he stopped and advised he would go no further unless I paid him more. I did.   Win a few,  lose a few. 😃.       

    A. My travel aspirations: 

I always wanted to see & experience everything in a country that tickled my curiosity. My guidebook & Internet research revealed much, but that broad aspiration went even deeper.

Not content with the obvious sites, I wanted to discover unnoticed, underappreciated nuances of sites & experiences with my mind & video camera.

    Anecdote 1:  Normandy, France’s walkabout:    I also focused on small cast figurines
used on dwellings to keep exterior shutters in place. 

Anecdote 2:  Montenegro’s Durmitor National Park

Anecdote 3: India’s Patwa Mansion’s:      elaborate cartoon-like wall murals & detailed painted interiors & exterior havelis.                                         [ytlk: jaisalmer: Patwa haveli ???]





B. Sites & experience RESEARCH?

Many of my sites & activities came from a lifetime of education, MSM media, periodicals: National Geographic Mag, Archaeology), and TV & videos.      

Like tiny rose buds under fresh spring snow, these near-infinite ‘Travel Buds’ are potential travel ideas lying asleep in your mind waiting for you to turn them into a travel adventure.      Your mind is filled with your own Travel Buds, if you look for them.

I now call those travel tidbits …’Travel Buds’. Throughout our lives, we are bombarded with  Travel Buds. 


    Anecdote: Movies & College Art Class

        1) For me, Audrey Hepburn’s ultimate romantic European travel fantasy,
“Two for the Road’

        2) & much later, Russel Crowe’s “Gladiator Coliseum would
prompt my Rome visits.

        3) Brad Pitt’s “Seven Years in Tibet.” triggered 3 mo in China.



    Anecdote: My college Art History class:      exposed the intentional optical illusion of  Athen's Parthenon slightly bowed steps & bulging columns in Athens, Greece.    

OTOH, I spend months researching a country’s guidebook & internet sites to ‘discover’ every potential Travel Bud I might want to see & do because at my advanced age, I had no intention of returning to that country or city. 

Very few Travel Buds can NOT be safely visited. You only have to discover them & decide how & when to make your goals a “genuine probability rather than just a mere day-dream fantasy”

So how do you do you DISCOVER  your Travel Buds? This can be an exciting research adventure in itself.  Really!

   C. My Approach:  

This is how you might start to choose where you want to go & how.
    a. make a list  of your Travel Buds arise from time to time:  

I have a “Future Travel” document on my computer [pplk: Future Travel list] that I constantly update with any interesting Travel Buds I run across.     The 1st Column has countries of interest while 2nd column has Travel Buds by city.

Eventually, I would notice a lot of Travel Buds accumulating for a specific country. I would casually research a little deeper out of curiosity, but as I delved deeper I became more & more captivated, imagining what those country’s sites might be like. 

Soon, I would start roughing out my itinerary. The process itself was exciting, with enthusiasm building on itself.

    Anecdote: Italy’s Renaissance Art trip:  22 years ago after late spring back surgery,  I read Rick Steves' “Europe 101: History & Art for the Traveler.”, researched what interested me, created an itinerary & a couple of months later booked a flight.

I spent a month exploring Italy’s Renaissance art & architecture in Rome, Florence & Venice.  [ytlk. Italy: ]




    b. Travel Buds searching:   
        1) If just starting to accumulate your travel buds, in addition to the above, I suggest the following:
            a) Ask yourself: “What have I always dreamed of seeing?  Add these ideas to your Travel List.  

            b) Watch some travel shows: ONLY list the sites/activities that really excite you.

                          Going: “ 50 of the Best Travel-ish Shows to Watch … 

            c) Explore Travel blogs. (Don’t search “Travel websites” yet cuz mostly tour company adverts.)

                          FeedSpot: ”100 Best Travel Blogs To Read”:

            d. Google Search your Travel Buds deeper to confirm or inspire, or not. 

        (2) If you seek more Travel Buds for a country you are already focused on:
            a) Obtain that country’s most recent guidebook.      If a European country uses Rick Steves, guidebook. Elsewhere, Lonely Planet. Occasionally DK guidebook for its beautiful illustrations. 

           b) Thoroughly read every guidebook page for each section that interests you.

           c) Literally remove all ‘NON-interest’ pages with a razor-knife so it doesn’t distract & waste time ‘thumb’ing & re-reading. NOTE: don’t remove general info like ‘Translation” Index etc. 😃

           d) Thoroughly read Pages of Interest while ‘X’ing out sections that hold no interest, so you don’t waste time re-reading.                  EX for me: High-end hotels, B&Bs, etc. 

           e) Start filling in your Personal Itinerary outline structure with cryptic notes. [pplk; Itinerary]  

    c. Free City Tours: Many cities offer, college student-led, free city tours once or twice a day giving you an informative walkabout that orients you to the most culturally & historically interesting part of the city; often it original Old Town.Free Tours by Foot:

VIDEO: I almost always take these tours and then later I retrace with my video camera spending ‘deep time’ on these sites.

"Shop Steering" visits: 

'Shop-steered' visits are "unnecessary, unannounced, seemingly impromptu, but ‘forced’ visits to leather & silk tailor shops, souvenirs, diamonds or a market or factory presumably because they are an interesting cultural insight. Often, just wastes your time or worse, involves illegal or immoral activities.

In fact, tour & shore excursion companies & their guides make 'shop-steered' visits BECAUSE they can be an immense source of added income. You are almost guaranteed that prices are may be 10-15 times than usual, ….  even when you bargain

Fordor’s Travel Talk Forums:

SIT (solo independent travelers) can avoid all 'shop-steered' visits because solo travelers totally control their itinerary EXCEPT on a day tour when guide may slip one in. You can still visit for the experience and then go back to the van and watch TikTok videos.

    Anecdote: On one occasion in Vietnam, I let my tuk-tuk driver take me to a silk suit tailor shop just for the experience.  The owner was polite and graciously accepted my rejection. Worthwhile SIT insight.                           

NOTE: If you REALLY want to buy a silk suit etc, Google search where they are commonly sold & visit several shops —- bargaining.          [pplk: Safe: Soft - Bargaining]


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