tourist guilt.


On vacation and trips, I don’t usually do things according to standard. Whether that means, in Paris, spending more time in restaurants than in museums. In Indonesia, surfing and playing in the water for 5 weeks, without touching the ground of a single temple. In Andalusia, spending time with my friends, instead of exploring the insides of ancient churches.

On occasion though, a rare phenomenon takes place. I like to call it „tourist guilt“. It's that small voice in your head, telling you what a model tourist would do: “Hey, you’re in a new place! Go out and walk around! How about a museum? Take pictures! Meet people!”

Usually I am really good at ignoring that voice and doing whatever I feel like instead. That was, until my visit to ’s-Hertogenbosch last month. I wanted nothing more than to sit in that cozy café at the corner and read my magazine, while waiting for M’s interview to finish.

But never before have I been struck with a more serious case of tourist guilt. So I gave up, put my camera around my neck and, grudgingly, started walking.


With every corner I turned, with every photograph I took, my contentedness grew. Finding bright red berries hiding in bushes and stumbling upon an old man, fishing in the canals.

A two-hour walk through the streets of Den Bosch later, I did sit down in a quiet café overlooking the canals and pondered the experience. Looking down at my camera full of new pictures, I just felt happy.

At odd times, it can be worth giving in to the “tourist guilt”. After all, you will be rewarded with an adventure, entering the threshold of a new city with all its novelty and secrets still before you, waiting to be uncovered. ---

Have you ever experienced "tourist guilt"?