What’s the meaning of “indie travel”?

What’s the meaning of “indie travel”?

As part of Bootsnall’s Indie 2012 project, I’m answering these questions today: Are you an indie traveler? What do you think makes someone an indie traveler?

Well – the first question is easy: I fit my own definition of an indie traveler so heck yeah I am one!

But onto the harder question, what makes someone an indie traveler?

Oh, so many things.

First, and most important, the desire to travel.

Not everyone wants to travel. My wanderlust runs so deep that I can’t understand it, but it’s true. And that’s okay, for them. Then there are those people who kind of want to travel, might sign up for package tour of Europe once in a lifetime or take endless Caribbean cruises. And that’s okay, too. I’ve done the package tour of Europe and those Caribbean cruises actually look kind of fun.


And then there’s that strange breed of people who want to travel so badly it feels more like a need that a want. These are the people most likely to become indie travelers. They can’t help it. No matter how far or how often or for how long they travel, they always want to go deeply into another culture. Skimming the surface of a place is insufficient. Give these travelers all the details and don’t skip anything.

Second, indie travelers are people who are comfortable being uncomfortable.

These people are most comfortable doing new things that make most people a bit uneasy. These are people who can sleep on buses because they feel ever so slightly homey with their reliably uncomfortable seats covered in ugly fabric. A person who likes going new places in her hometown despite having a cache of favorite hangouts has a bit of indie traveler in them – they’re looking for that new experience, that travel moment, even though heading to a favorite diner is a reliable and fun entertainment option.

If you go on a trip to a swamp and a catfish is pulled into the boat and left to die right in front of you, gasping and writhing, is there a touch of amazement mixed with that uncomfortable and queasy feeling? If you’re an indie traveler, they’re probably is…and it might even lead you to explore that moment in a creative way like writing or painting.


Third, and finally, indie travelers make travel happen.

Travel is not an easy thing to do. There are barriers to just getting out your front door with your wallet. Taking an overseas trip, whether long or short, is a commitment. Indie travelers hurdle over obstacles and travel anyway. They take the trips they want by setting goals and just going for it. My friend Tess and I both love traveling in Europe. It’s a pricey place to travel and we’re young women with lots of ambition and not a lot of money. But we regularly make European travel happen anyway. Tess got her Master’s degree in England. We went to Denmark and had a great time on one of our broke-est trips ever. We travel when we’re sick or injured, even when it’s a stupid idea, just because the opportunity presents itself. Last year, I hid cough drops in my shoes and hauled around a nebulizer because I had pneumonia the weekend I was in my friend’s wedding. Last year, I made my boyfriend haul my backpack around Ireland because I’d had unexpected surgery only a month before and we’d been planning his first trip to Europe for well over a year. In 2008, I walked who knows how many miles to take a guided tour of Berlin with my brother after falling down the stairs and injuring my ankle the night before (I paid for that one with six months of physical therapy, but it was worth it).

In short, indie travelers are independent, slightly odd people who are addicted to new experiences and will do anything to make them happen. Yeah, that’s me.

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