How to Not Be a Cliché Traveler

Jess: It's been awhile since I've introduced new voices here on Fresh Jess, and today I'm delighted to welcome Emma Eekhoff, another Twitter follow turned real-life friend. Emma is a firecracker of a high schooler, and I admire her determination and tenacity to grow her network beyond her peer group. You'll hear from her periodically here on FJ. For her first post, a few words on traveling off the beaten path:

Over spring break, I’ve seen many of my classmates travel to tropical locations, like well-worn parts of Hawaii or Mexico.

Since our generation feels the need to share every moment of their life via Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and the telegraph, I have been kept up to date on everyone’s happenings. Seeing all of the updates on social media, I've noticed that most everyone went to - how do I say this without sounding too pretentious? - a place I would describe as ‘safe’ or wealthy areas of these vacation cities.

Thanks to my parents, I've had quite the opposite of experiences traveling to new cities. I’ve noticed that the best memories aren't from staying on-course and going to the crowded resort beaches.

  Image via    Pinterest

Image via Pinterest

Since I was little, my parents made it a priority to provide my brother and I with a more enriching learning experience and traveling was just the solution. For example, at the shy age of 6 I remember my day trying to find an art museum only knowing the general vicinity. We ventured to the destination tacking on an extra 15 minutes in the hot sun, walking around lost and trying to locate the museum because who needs a map? Maybe I didn't appreciate my dad’s style of exploration back then, but during this detour, we discovered new parts of the city that we maybe wouldn't have ventured out to on purpose. 

I can remember the first time my family and I went to Europe. We had big plans of going to the Aquaboulevard one of the days we were in Paris. It was big water park in the middle of the city, like Disneyland. When we arrived we were disappointed because my brother and dad did not bring the correct apparel for swimming; only speedos were allowed. So my parents, with sad overheated-whiney children on their hands, came up with a quick plan B to go to a local park that had water fountains we could frolic around in. More than 10 years later, I believe I had more fun at the park’s fountains than I could ever have at the Aquaboulevard, because it was authentic and was filled with local people from the area.

Usually the most authentic and memorable restaurants, museums and other attractions aren't on main street. You have to explore to really be amazed by a new culture - and how boring is it to come back from vacation, share with your friends about an attraction you went to and not have it be unique?

When I see that the people around me aren't fully immersing themselves in the culture around them, it frustrates me a little because they have no idea what they’re missing out on. Life is too short to just got to the McDonald's when it's next door to a mom-and-pop bakery.

So next time you post on your Facebook, post something about how you meant to go to “The Best Shaven Ice in Town,” but instead ran into a Loco Moco restaurant that smelled and sounded way better then standing in line for 30 minutes for a mediocre ice icicle.

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Hello, I’m Emma Eekhoff. I’m a 17-year-old that would rather be networking for business than at a party with my high school friends. I’m not afraid to share my stance on something, whether it is an art form like music or recent events in the world. I’ve been writing in a journalist setting for only a few years, through my high school’s online newspaper, The Growl Online or for a music blog. I love to connect and network with new people in the worlds of business and music, travel to new places and eat new interesting foods.

Follow & connect with me on Social Media: Instagram / Twitter / eekhoffemma@gmail.com

View all of Emma's posts here.