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Travel-Writing Cliche – “Exploring”

Iceland, hiking, Wandering Justin, Landmannalaugur

Remote, rugged, even dangerous. But not unexplored ... the interior highlands of Iceland.

If there’s one thing I can’t stand, it’s when my blog reads like some half-baked travel brochure. I’m trying really hard to watch what I say here to guard against it.

One of the sacrifices to the cause: the word “explore.”

It’s become a mindless cliche. And I’ll admit I’ve used it carelessly.

Look … I’ve been to some rugged, remote and super-cool places. But I haven’t explored jack. Every place I’ve been … someone’s beaten me to it. By a long shot.

So I’ll leave breathless exhortations to “explore our pristine forest preserve” to the silly travel magazines.

And travelers: we do the same thing. We’re a self-aggrandizing lot, we are. We peck at our less-traveled friends, colleagues and relatives. We tell them to take a closer look at the world beyond them. We tell them to ring up some frequent flier miles. And we tell them to “explore.” As if they’re going somewhere that doesn’t have electricity and flushing toilets.

I suppose you could argue that people can explore any spot that’s new to them. But damn, that is really weak sauce. It dilutes the mystique of exploration into a thin, lite-beer gruel.

And really, there’s nothing wrong with not being a true explorer. Just ‘cause you’re not first doesn’t mean you’re last (right, Ricky Bobby?). I don’t mind a well-marked hiking trail. A trail with a system of huts with water? Freakin’ bliss. Amenities like that mean someone else got there first.

Look around. Check the world out. Push your limits. But just remember: You’re no explorer.

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