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Thinking about: BEING A TOURIST

I had a special visitor in town last week- my “brother” from across the pond, Liam, dropped in to visit Florida and have a very well-deserved holiday. Since I haven't seen him in 5 years and had the ability, i took the whole week off from work to spend time with him and go adventuring around my new home.


Y’all know I moved to Florida back in December- holy crap, It was actually exactly 3 months ago? I just realized that literally as I’m typing. Wow. Shit.


Anyway, I moved out of our apartment outside of Cincy on Saturday, unpacked the uhaul, and on Thursday I started working 5 days a week. Adam had even less down time than I did and we’ve basically been playing catch up ever since. We’ve had minimal time (honestly, minimal extra funds too after the move) to go out and adventure, even close to home.


So this past week, with Liam as a partner-in-crime (see also: excuse) to go run around and go to these new places, I had literally the best time!! Only one day was truly good enough for a beach day, so of course we did that seeing as I live on the Emerald Coast. We drove all around the Okaloosa and Walton counties over the course of the week- exploring state parks, dipping our feet in springs, getting splashed by dolphins and spotting loads of alligators (including the one who lives in the pond behind my condo). We had incredible food from local hole-in-the-wall spots, and from obvious tourist favorites (but even those were still great for the price!). I even made sure Liam tried WhatABurger, obviously- it’s a Florida staple.


So all of this really got me thinking about how it is so frowned upon to be a tourist- or to act like a tourist, if you’re a local. But the thing is, there’s a good reason some things are tourist favorites- they’re cool! They’re nice spots to go to, or they have something interesting and different going on. But we just ignore them when we live near them, because people from out of town like to visit? We so often don’t appreciate what the place we live in has to offer just because we’re scared of- what? Being judged? Being mistaken for a tourist by another local?


I posted about this on instagram and got a thoughtful response- really, the bad perspective on tourism probably comes from tourism using a space at the expense of the land, people, and resources that exist there anyway. Mostly, the negativity comes from not taking into account how their presence is straining the people who make their homes there; think Hawaii, for example. Locals and even public officials have begged tourists not to visit in the past few years. In spite of the fact that the economy is obviously heavily influenced by tourism, there was a massive strain put on the area due to tourists exposing the island to covid and their hospitals being overwhelmed, as well as environmental disasters like contaminated water (caused by US military presence) being stretched to the breaking point by continued overuse by the tourism industry. This is just to name a few of the problems tourism has created there, honestly- check out Hawaiian native creators on tiktok or instagram because they’re the ones who can really speak to this.

So anyway, this is not what I’m calling for. I’m encouraging my Thinkers to get out and experience the things their town, area, region, state has to offer that y’all might tend to take for granted. There’s nothing wrong with being a tourist as long as you’re being respectful and not being annoying… and ya know, for all my travelers out there, I guess this goes for you, too. Don’t be afraid to go to the touristy spots, because a lot of the time they’re actually really cool. Just don’t be an entitled jerk or slow traffic down too much!!!!



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