Experimental travel

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Experimental tourism is an approach to tourism in which visitors do not visit the ordinary tourist attractions (or, at least not with the ordinary approach), but are guided by other means. It is an alternative form of tourism in which destinations are chosen not on their standard touristic merit but on the basis of an idea or experiment. It often involves elements of humor, serendipity, and chance.

There are a number of approaches to experimental tourism:

  • Aerotourism, in which a tourist visits the local airport and explores it without going anywhere
  • Alphatourism, in which a tourist finds the first street alphabetically on a map, and the last street alphabetically, draws a straight line (or any other figure they desire) between them, and walk the path between the two points
  • Alternating Travel, in which a tourist leaves their front door, turns right, turns left at the next intersection, turns right at the next, and so on, alternating each direction, until they are unable to continue because of an obstruction
  • Blindfolded tourism or Cecitourism, in which a blindfolded tourist is escorted through the city by a guide
  • Contretourism, in which a tourist visits a famous tourist site, but turns their back on the site and takes photos of, or just examines, the view from that direction
  • Erotourism, in which a couple travels separately to the same city and then tries to find each other
  • Monopolytourism, in which a tourist takes the local version of a Monopoly board with them and visits places on the board as determined by a roll of the dice
  • Nyctalotourism, in which the tourist only visits tourist attractions between dusk and dawn
  • Sagittatourism, in which a person throws an arrow (often a dart arrow) on a map, and travels to the place the arrow hit on the map

Other ideas do not have particular names:

  • "Touring" a home town: stay at a youth hostel, backpack through town, meet new people, do not go home until the vacation is over.
  • Take a map of the town being visited, select a random map grid, and explore every bit of the grid.
  • Visit a bar, ask the bartender where their favorite bar is and what they drink there. Visit that bar and order that drink, do the same with the bartender there, and continue.

The concept of experimental travel was developed by writer Joël Henry, the French director of the Laboratory of Experimental Tourism (Latourex).

In 2005, Lonely Planet published The Lonely Planet Guide to Experimental Travel, which formalised and developed many of Henry's ideas.

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