I don’t like resorts …

Let me clarify.

Doing nothing all day and lounging around is relaxing. It’s nice to have your basic needs taken care of by a group of people that aren’t you. There is a lot to be said for getting to eat all you want and drink all you want (when it’s all-inclusive). Activities are planned and a schedule is of options is prepared for you daily, a nice break from planning your life.

Ok, so I take it back … I do like resorts.

Does this really count as going to Mexico?

But, when I say “I’ve traveled to XXXX” or “I want to go visit XXXXX”, these resorts don’t count. If I’m traveling somewhere, I need to have some local experience. I want to eat food people from there eat. I need to hang out where they hang out. I need to struggle with the language. I need local currency.

Resorts are an artificially created environment, catering to where you came from and not where you are. A resort in Mexico feels like a resort in the Caribbean and reminds me of a resort in India. There is a pool, there is American and European food, and the staff wants you to feel comfortable when they can by speaking in your foreign language (almost always English). If there is a beach, there is a boat trip and jet skis. If it’s cold, there is skiing.

A street market in Chiang Mai. Something you don’t see at a resort.

Basically … a resort insulates you from the new culture you traveled to. It’s a calm retreat (which you can do anywhere) as opposed to an experience to visit a new location and get a taste of a new culture.

So, I implore you. If you are going to take the time and effort to go to some far off place … skip the resort. Hop onto Wikitravel or grab a Lonely Planet Guide and relish in the fact that you aren’t home and doing something different.

*caveat* If you are just looking to relax, then by all means find the nearest resort and relax. But don’t do something crazy like travel halfway around the world to never leave the security gate of the Riu grounds.