Book binding

Use your hobby to travel and experience a place from a different point of view

When you travel, it is often easy to get trapped in the same tried and tested tourist loop. You’ll check out the must-do sights, you’ll do the must-do activities, you’ll eat the must-eat food, and so on. There’s nothing wrong with this – after all, any form of travel still puts you in a completely new and foreign environment and that in and of itself is a great experience. But – what if you want to go off the beaten track?

One way to do this is to use your hobby or passion to experience a place from a different lens. For example – if you’re into painting, you don’t have to limit yourself to just the must-do sights. Maybe you can take a local painting class while you’re traveling and meet locals who’re also into painting when you do this. Maybe you can visit local art supplies shops and come across interesting and new forms of supplies that you might not have seen before. Maybe you can check out local art galleries and discover new artists you can learn from. Or maybe you can simply be inspired by the local art, and think about how you could apply some of these techniques to your own art 🙂

What I’ve found is that some of these excursions, interesting or not, end up exposing us to a different part of the city, and we might end up discovering hidden gems in the city that might get overlooked otherwise. For example – in my case, I’m into bookbinding and I love making handmade journals. On a recent trip to Tokyo, Japan, I spent some time exploring the city purely from a bookbinding perspective. I ended up visiting art supplies shops, journal stores, and antique book stores that were so much fun to check out, and gave me so many ideas for things I could experiment with myself. In this process, I also ended up discovering neighborhoods in Tokyo that I would have completely missed otherwise, neighborhoods that I really enjoyed and ended up visiting multiple times thereafter (For ex – the neighborhood called Nakameguro in Tokyo was such a great find!)

Or for example, I was on a trip to Istanbul in Turkey recently. This was my first visit to Istanbul and of course I did the usual sight seeing and soaked in the rich culture and history of the city. But thanks to my interest in bookbinding, I also ended up visiting local art stores, art galleries and antique shops that I’m not sure I would have visited otherwise. I visited the old books section of the Grand Bazaar, walked across Istanbul to get to book stores that had been recommended, purchased some really different looking leather journals from a wholesaler, and ended up experiencing the city in a slightly different way, than purely as a tourist.

If you’re going on a trip, see if you can explore the place a bit from the point of view of your hobbies and interests. You’ll be amazed at what you will find, and come out with a richer travel experience 🙂

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