By Jeralyn Gerba and Pavia Rosati—the duo behind the popular travel website Fathom—Travel Anywhere (and Avoid Being a Tourist) is a 192-page guide to exploring places without interrupting them. Gerba and Rosati started Fathom in 2011 to make the wonderful places they’d been to or wished to visit more accessible through intimate storytelling, product tips and personal anecdotes. The culmination of all of that led them to make this book, an extension (but also a standalone project) of the website.
Traveling consciously requires planning as to not impose oneself on any destination—traveling for the sake of immersion shouldn’t come at the cost of the people, culture or environment you’re stepping into. The negative connotations associated with the term “tourist” convey a few things—unpreparedness, naivety and, on occasion, ignorance. By being any of these things results in a disservice to travelers themselves as well as locals.
“Nowadays, feeling like a local is considered the travel ideal and we agree. But being a tourist isn’t all bad, if we define a tourist as someone who puts herself in a new and unknown situation and place—and approaches it with curiosity and an open mind,” Rosati says. “If we’re defining ‘tourist’ as someone who boards a double-decker bus in New York City to visit a Bubba Gump Shrimp in Times Square, well, then we’re talking about someone who is missing out on much better options just a few blocks away. That’s the downside of traveling as a tourist cliche: you will miss all the really good stuff.”
“Travel seems to have moved in popular consciousness from an indulgence to an essential. On the one hand, the world seems to be getting politically crazier and scarier, with borders closing and foreigners being demonized as too different, too unrelatable, too threatening. These are nationalistic trends, and it is not good, to put it mildly,” Rosati says.
As a counterbalance to political xenophobia, traveling is very good
“On the other hand, on an individual basis, we are traveling more. The economics of the industry make it easier to travel for less money, and the trends in hospitality steer us toward experiences that help us feel like locals in those foreign places. ‘Authentic’ is the holy grail of travel right now. Why is that? Because the results are better in the end: your horizon’s expanded—mentally, emotionally and physically. You saw things that were interesting, beautiful and challenging. You made new friends who may or may not speak your language, but you still managed to communicate. As a counterbalance to political xenophobia, traveling is very good.”
The book is a melding of all the adventures and experiences that the Fathom team has had collectively over a decade and is “organized around the concepts that reflect both our travel philosophy and the current travel zeitgeist,” Rosati explains. “For example, when we discuss where to go, we suggest both ‘trendy’ and timeless destinations, because both have their appeal. But it doesn’t seem like a massive list. It feels like a tight edit.”
It’s filled with glorious destinations all around the world—places for escaping, some that welcome volunteering, and others where food is the driving force. From Australia‘s Top End to hot springs in Madaba, Jordan, Fathom explored the world and listed their favorite spots—many that are off the beaten path.
“Yes, this book will give readers specifics about restaurants to try, hotels to book and experiences to have. But because Travel Anywhere touches on the whole world and doesn’t favor any one destination, we hope it acts as a manual for how to think about travel,” Rosati says. “So many of the topics that we cover—like wellness, voluntourism, combining work and travel, and the whole culture of hotels—are timely, written in response to how people travel (and want to travel) right now, as well as in their travel dreams.”
Travel Anywhere (And Avoid Being a Tourist) is available on 16 April from Hardie Grant.
Images courtesy of Fathom/Travel Anywhere (And Avoid Being a Tourist)