The Tourist Bias – Revised

Location independence is not a luxury anymore, it’s a necessity. It’s part of a lifestyle built on top of remote working, geo arbitrage, digital first economy, and a few other abrupt developments, more or less accelerated by the latest global “black swan event”, also known as a pandemic (these tendencies existed before the pandemic, the COVID clusterfuck just pushed them forward).

During last month I spent a significant amount of time in Romania – not because I wanted, primarily, but because I had to (logistics, paperwork, etc). Being here, after living as a location independent individual for more than 3 years, felt weird. Not emotionally charged, not bad or good, specifically, but weird.

In a way, I had similar symptoms with the happy tourist bias, only slightly different. Not that happy, but stil touristy.

For instance, I revisited places which were part of what I called home: the block in which I lived for 4 years before leaving Romania, the park close to it, where I ran marathons and ultra-marathons all by myself, the coffee shops in which I used to work. They all seemed like tourist attractions now, they were devoid of their “homey” feeling. My attachment to them disappeared, and it was replaced with a new perspective.

I also met with people that I used to know, and with people I met online first, while I lived in other countries. Both of them seemed changed. The ones that I used to know seemed more tied to the general “vibe” of the place (which isn’t a very happy one, to be honest). They were still my friends, I could connect with them ok, but they seemed more like “locals”. The ones that I met online, briefly, seemed more alive when we interacted in real life, surprisingly.

All in all, the time spent here was just another trip, not a “coming back home to solve stuff” kind of traveling. Didn’t feel at home.

And that gets me back to the tourist bias. If we keep living as tourists, if everything is experienced as a continuous trip, with no place that we call “permanent” home, then life has a different dimension. It’s richer, more flexible, more exciting.

Being a tourist doesn’t mean you don’t have a “home” at all. You have more like a base from where you jump around, and you negotiate that base taking into account whatever needs and wants you have at that specific moment. Should they change, the base will change too.

But in this process, you remain a tourist, you are a traveler, open and fresh, ready to be surprised.

Some surprises are better than others, some places have a nicer vibe than others, but, as long as you remain in the tourist role, they will all be just part of an amazing journey.

Photo by Andreas Wagner on Unsplash

2 thoughts on “The Tourist Bias – Revised”

  1. Yeah I felt the “local” vibe too when I was in Bucharest. I no longer felt belonging to the place any more, even though I have friends, a flat and still remember well the city. It is like its soul in what I used to believe is lost. I felt clearly that is just another city on the map of Europe and I have no longer a longing to come back for quite some time.

    I am on the same page with you with the tourist bias, I feel like some places for me are always fresh and new, other a bit dusted. I like to live a life of discovery, whatever that may be

    • Yeah, Bucharest felt exactly like this, its soul, or its vibe, energy, is no longer there. I guess we associate places with people more than with stones and roads, so when we don’t have access to those people anymore (or when they change beyond recognition, which is also part of life) then we feel alienated. It was a gloomy experience, not looking to repeat it, although I might have to for a few more months.


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