Lonely Planet Writer

Zombie Travel

For what shall it profit travellers, if they visit the whole world without experiencing it fully?

The Lonely Planet community has always been about Independent Travel. Our success is being able to empower curious people to get to the heart of a place, whether by getting around on public transport, getting beyond the tourist traps, supporting local businesses, or relating to the wonderful and the everyday in every destination. But a lot of travellers are unaware of the benefits of Independent Travel, and instead support Zombie Travel.

Sure, go here, but then walk away and find your own Rome.

What is Zombie Travel?
It’s a part of the larger Zombieconomy. Harvard Business Review describes the Zombieconomy as being 'built on McMansions, Hummers, and $5 lattes'. In other words, it is the products and lifestyles that don't add value to our lives. In fact, they take away value. They destroy our standard of living, the environment, and minority cultures, and distract us from adding real value to our lives.

So Zombie Travel is the vacation spent all day, every day on the beach getting skin cancer, instead of learning even a little about the local culture and history; it is drinking at Irish pubs in France instead of finding a family run brasserie or cafe; it is staying only at cloned five-star international hotel chains, instead of trying a locally owned guesthouse; it is going on an air-conditioned coach tour of a city, rather than creating your own walking tour.

Cheap, clean, and walking distance to loads of sights.

In short, Zombie Travel is typically luxury without value.

  • Of what value is staying at expensive hotel for all of your vacation when travellers spend 95% their waking hours outside experiencing a foreign culture? A clean bed and bathroom are more than enough.
  • Of what value is a suntan, if all it leaves to tell one’s grandchildren about a place is that 'I had to get up early to claim a beach chair'? I like to relax on a beach with the best of the sun worshippers, but I’ve found more peace learning about Ra in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo than on a Thai beach.
  • Of what value is a standard tour of a city, if it is a substitute for the ambulatory ambience of a personal connection?

We all like to spoil ourselves now and again. And we are more inclined to spoil ourselves when we are on vacation. However, spoiling ourselves too much can ruin the primary reason for travelling: experiencing the real texture of a place. Save your money and help preserve the planet for future generations by not travelling Zombie-style.

Phú Quốc, Vietnam: Don’t forget to visit a fish-sauce factory while you are here.