Counterintuitive Travel Tip #4: Be lazy

Tip #3 was “Go where the tourists are”–to which I add:

…But skip the big sights.

Or, more precisely, skip anything that involves standing in line for more than, oh, 10 minutes. Also consider skipping most things that involve trudging around in the blazing sun.

By this logic, you might miss the Empire State Building. Or worse: the Pyramids in Egypt! This is pretty harsh—but going to the Pyramids in 90-degree heat, only to be chased around by camel drivers, is a recipe for hating Egypt forever.

Even after living in Egypt, I only got around to appreciating the Pyramids for the first time ever last fall, when it was a balmy 80 degrees, and thanks to everyone being scared away by the revolution, I didn’t have to push my way past mobs of underdressed Russian package tourists and squadrons of camel touts.

(Theoretically, the “hide in the mob of tourists” logic of Tip #3 should work at the Pyramids, as a way of avoiding the souvenir vendors and camel touts, but somehow the number of hustlers magically expands to match the number of tourists at what feels like a 16:1 ratio in favor of the hustlers.)

Just about the acceptable level of tourists at the Pyramids, fall 2011.

Anyway, you’re on vacation. Why would you spend it standing around waiting to see the Mona Lisa? Those mega-museums and those impressive tall buildings – they’ll be there a very long time. You’ll probably have another chance to see them, on a less-busy day. Right now – enjoy your time off, and just wander.

Unless, of course, you wake up freakishly early because of jet lag, and it’s raining. That might be a great time to go to the Louvre.

(If you’re thinking I’m a terrible cynic about the Pyramids, consider that no less a terrible cynic than Anthony Bourdain went to Cairo and skipped a trip to Giza. Instead, he had a nice boat ride with my excellent friend Hassan.

Hassan is a great guide, and he says the Pyramids drive him and all his clients crazy, and he would love to see the system improved. Here’s my post on the subject from earlier this year. Any advice?)


  1. Klary says:

    I remember I got a lot of criticism when I mentioned on a food-forum-that-shall-remain-nameless that when travelling the South West US, I had enjoyed my time sitting in little diners sipping coffee and watching the world go by, more than the hours I spent watching a lot of tourist watching the Grand Canyon. So, yeah, agree with you 100 %!

  2. Zora says:

    Hmm, might that be because that food-forum-that-shall-remain-nameless is run by aggressive type-A people? Here’s to sipping coffee and watching the world go by!

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