Updated: May 10
To travel the local pathway is to put minimalism into practice. Everything I need for a day trip fits perfectly into a single backpack. Whatever I need for a vacation abroad fits perfectly into my carry on. Basically, if it can't fit in a bag I can keep with me at all times, it's not coming.
Pack only the essentials
Have you ever seen those backpackers carrying their whole vacation on their backs? Don't be like them. The strain is never worth it. If you find yourself overdoing it, lay all items out on the bed and do the travel checklist. For day trips do you have one extra set of clothes, one pair of clean underwear, towel, phone and charger, wallet and maybe a freshen up kit (mini soap, lotion, shampoo etc.)? Then you're good to go.
Why are you packing that novel/reading assignment you know you won't get to?
If going on vacation for longer than overnight, then pack for the purpose of the trip. Going shopping? Pack for a day trip and travel with an empty suitcase to fill up. Baecation? Ladies, pack your outfits around one pair of neutral heels and Gents, substitute one t-shirt for a button down.
Make use of public transportation
"I don't have a car" and "I didn't have a ride" are the two excuses people make the most when I ask why they don't travel around Jamaica more. As if buses, taxis and boats don't exist. Public transportation has always been very dear to me because of it's relative efficiency and affordability.
To travel the local pathway is to pack a little patience and hop on a bus or taxi or boat that will take you where you want to go without costing you too much.
I find the overall experience of taking public transportation entertaining. The professional liars posing as loader men who claim they saved you a "good seat". The relationship troubles of the passengers unfolding over the phone while I shamelessly eavesdrop. The haphazard mashup of items being peddled by the vendors. Need refreshment? A word search puzzle? Power bank to charge your phone? Butcher knives? You're covered. But mostly I enjoy the preachers who seem to come in two types. Type A, the one who will pray for journeying mercies - my fave. I mean when was the last time a flight attendant prayed over your trip? Then Type B, the fire and brimstone preachers who tremble with the holy ghost as they explain why you should repent. You can't pay for this level of excitement.
Put your money directly in the hands of the locals
A hot topic in Jamaica is always where our tourism dollars go. Sensational headlines make the earnings seem plentiful but then you hear of how the Spanish chains are taking all the money out of the country. So what do we have left? Where does it all go? I have no clue. Neither does the average citizen. I could go on and on about trickle down economics but what it comes down to is Local Pathway's travel philosophy:
put the money directly into the hands of the local community of service providers in the tourism industry when you travel.
Buying a souvenir? Visit a local craft market and skip the wares made in China. Dying to try the cuisine? Ask the locals about their favourite spots. Booking a tour? Check out the businesses run by locals who have lived in the city their whole lives and are better able to give you that authentic experience instead of a watered down sightseeing excursion that pauses at each point of interest for five minutes so you can take a picture to prove you were there.
I know this sounds bad but hear me out. What do you normally do with a hotel room? Sleep. Shower. Store your belongings. Maybe eat a bit and watch some T.V. I don't see where you need the extra square footage. To travel the local pathway is to book a private room in a hostel only if you feel squeamish about sharing with strangers. I went to a boarding school where I had 17 roommates so being in an eight bed dorm is like nothing to me. But whether you book a hostel bed, a room in someone's home on Airbnb or a boutique hotel, never stay in a place that won't feed you in the morning.
Breakfast included is a must have when staying anywhere
I use that criteria as a filter for all places I'm thinking of staying. Maybe that means I won't be staying at the Ritz Carlton with a panoramic view of the city or whatever but with all the money I save not staying there, I'll be able to book a tour on a helicopter to get an even better view. So sleep cheap (and clean obviously) so you'll have more money to spend on experiences.