Iconic sites and touristy attractions are the Three O’s: Overrated, Overseen, and Overwritten about
I have no problem visiting overrated, overseen, and overwritten about sites – or as I’ll refer to them, the “three Os”. Just because 95% of the people who go to Rome visit the Colosseum doesn’t mean that I have seen it for myself. And when I want to see something for myself, I want to see it for myself.
Touristy attractions are a good thing for kids. Don’t let travel cynics stop you from giving kids something relatable. The iconic images that they’ll see in their textbooks and in movies are part of the fabric of travel that will connect their memories with what they’re learning. It will get them to continue to be interested in seeing the world. And that’s ok.
Ways to make a visit to the Three O’s a pleasant one for your family
That said, I do think there are some positive and negative ways to handle visiting the three Os. So, here are some things for your consideration.
- Research it in advance
- Learn the story
- What’s the history leading up to the creation of this iconic site?
- Why is it still so popular today?
- What are some tidbits that may be interesting to your kids?
- Consider the responsible tourism angle
- One of the problems with overrated sites is that they’re crowded. In the short-term, this is bad because no one wants to spend a lot of time in line visiting a place that’s over crowded. In the long-term, it can have negative effects on the resources in the community. Find out when high season is – and do your best to avoid it.
- Make a plan to visit the site in a responsible way when considering any hotels, tours, and even souvenirs you may purchase.
- Figure out the logistics
- How can you maximize your visit? Is it better to buy tickets online to avoid the long wait, or do you have to book a tour to get decent access?
- What’s the best way to approach the site? The first time I visited the Eiffel Tower, we drove right up. It wasn’t quite the “moment” I was looking for. The next time, we took the metro at night and I turned a corner and all of a sudden – wow! I mean, I’d already seen the thing before, so you could imagine my surprise to actually be wowed by it.
- Know your kids. If you’re visiting a field in the middle of nowhere with a bunch of old stones jutting out of the earth and touching those stones is illegal – are your kids old enough to understand this or will they be tempted to touch? Find an alternative place to see.
- Think about the length of your visit. Know that you may have to cut it short if the kids get antsy.
- Make sure everyone has eaten before you go.
- When’s the best time of the day to visit to avoid the crowds?
- Do they offer guides (people or audio) that are aimed towards kids?
- What else is there to do in the area that would be interesting for the family?
- Learn the story
- Share the information with your family
- Talk about the history of the site leading up to the trip. Look for those popular images in movies and books.
- Talk about the history the day of your trip as you head to the place. Remind them of what life was like back when this was made and why it is still popular today.
- Encourage them to look out for something that they’ll only see there.
- Remind them of the things they should do to be responsible travelers, especially in these places that get so many visitors.
- When you leave, give them some time to reflect on what they saw.
- Don’t do too many of the Three Os in one day. The key to enjoying the uniqueness of some of these destinations is to balance it with something completely different.
Thee Getaway Gal is talking travel in her A-to-Z Challenge. In fact, within this challenge she’s issued a fun Instagram Challenge to encourage everyone to travel locally. I love it (and I’ll be launching a separate site soon focused just on the local-to-me travel opportunities, so this is close to my heart. Please visit her site and join the challenge.
We go to lots of the three Os, but not all. Sometimes we just stop by for a quick look and never go in, like the Louvre in Paris. We just skipped it a s the queue was almost 2 hours long.
It’s sort of impossible not to do the 3 O’s (good name btw), but they never are my favorite things for all the reasons you mention. I think your list of pre-planning is spot on.
We completely agree! How can you go to Rome and not see at least 1 one of the most famous sites?
We were recently in Barcelona and did not get a chance to go inside La Sagrada Familia as the wait was long and we left it to the last day. We did however really enjoy it from the outside and sat at a cafe and enjoyed an espresso as we took it in. Great point about the history- I sometimes find the history more interesting after the fact 🙂
Such a fab pre planning list, I am not sure if we’d do all of the O’s….. yeah, prob not.