“My favourite thing to do is go somewhere I’ve never been. And, if I’m not doing this you’ll find me helping others achieve it because that’s the next best thing.” – Alyse.
Hi, I’m Alyse – The Invisible Tourist
As a serial destination visitor, inspiring travel content creator, proud author (and freelance graphic designer), I’d like to thank you for visiting my little corner of the internet and wanting to learn more about The Invisible Tourist.
It’s the first and only blog in the travel niche to focus on how “blending in” and being a responsible tourist benefits visitors AND local communities.
Straight off the bat, you might notice there aren’t any pictures of me on this blog. This is mainly because I like to remain invisible (see what I did there?) and secondly, because I believe in recent years travel has become more focused on the individual and profits, so I prefer to let experiences speak for themselves.
I’m hoping to help curb the negative effects of overtourism with my responsible travel blog so if you’re new here, I’m sending you a warm welcome and I hope to inspire you to be invisible, too!
As travel is my biggest love and I highly value my time, I don’t hold back in going where I want and paying for it as I go. After all, I travelled for 9 years before starting this blog! On occasion, I work with companies I genuinely love who share my travel philosophy. Because I travel for the love of travel (and not for freebies), I am highly selective about the partnership opportunities I choose to accept.
You can see my collaborations and where I have been featured over on my Press page, or find my work on socials:
Facebook | Instagram | Pinterest | TikTok
This guide to my responsible travel blog will cover:
This post contains affiliate links, at no extra cost to you. I may earn a small commission if you click through and make a purchase.
Video: The Invisible Tourist summed up in 60 seconds
TL;DR If watching a video is more your thing, I’ve summed up my blog in 60 seconds below. Psst, if you can’t see it below, simply disable your ad-blocker:
What is this mid-range, responsible travel blog all about?
According to the Cape Town Declaration of 2002, Responsible Tourism can be defined as making “better places for people to live in and better places for people to visit” – a win-win for everyone.
From as early as I can remember, I’ve always been passionate about travelling in a responsible, culturally sustainable way. Through my blog I hope to inspire and encourage my readers, too.
Everything featured on my blog has been designed with my readers in mind to help them be more mindful, invisible tourists to support local communities of the destinations they visit by:
- Increasing awareness about overtourism: Issues caused by & how to avoid contributing
- Encouraging responsible, sustainable tourism in a simple way
- Sharing my personal tried-and-tested, day-by-day itineraries & travel destination guides
- Exploring off-the-beaten path & alternatives to popular spots in destination-specific cultural guides
- Recommending authentic, cultural experiences to help local communities by keeping traditions alive.
In saying that, where does my responsible travel blog fit?
With travel becoming accessible to more and more people, there’s also been a rise in the number of blogs dedicated to it. Now, let’s go back to early 2017 when I was researching travel blogs. I noticed there were loads of blogs about backpacking on a budget on one end of the spectrum and luxury travel on the other.
Although, I couldn’t seem to find any blogs about how people can avoid looking like tourists when abroad and how we can still travel without contributing to overtourism issues.
There was another grey area in my findings, something was missing: Where were the blogs about mid-range, responsible travel for organised people who…
- Need a dedicated site for travellers with a mid range budget, prefer to stay in 3* – 4* hotels and spend money on meaningful experiences that reflected this?
- Want to travel independently and take their time at each destination while getting the most personalised experience?
- Wished to be prepared and efficient, both before and during their trip?
- Hoped to be almost invisible amongst locals by speaking with and learning from them?
- Want to combine the above points to travel in a sustainable way to minimise any negative impacts tourism is having on locals and their communities?
Why The Invisible Tourist? And what is Invisible Tourism?
This grey area is why I created The Invisible Tourist. I’ve gone into more detail in an article about why I chose this apparently “undesirable” name for my blog.
I’m here to help if you’d like to learn more about what I like to call invisible tourism (which can also be referred to as responsible tourism) and you:
- Dream of travelling more with your mid range budget as mentioned in the graphic above but are unsure of where and how to start
- Would like to save money by booking flights and accommodation without the help of a travel agent, avoiding fees and leaving more cash for the good stuff (you can discover how to do that on my Travel Resources page)
- Have determination to ensure you get the most personalised experience on your trip by being be your own tour guide, efficiently seeing the sights independently and doing amazing activities at your own pace
- Prefer staying in 3* – 4* hotels with creature comforts but don’t want to feel completely disconnected from the experience of local life – all without using unregulated homestay accommodation services such as Airbnb as these contributes to overtourism issues
- Want to learn more about local customs, culture and how to overall be respectful of others when travelling.
Is all this possible?
Absolutely! In time, I plan to fill this responsible travel blog with lots of tips and tricks, inspiring travel snippets and share my personal experiences which I hope in turn will encourage you get the most out of your next adventure. With my different perspective on travelling I’d like to think I’ve discovered the most effective ways to tailor an itinerary where each and every part of the trip is my favourite part.
Armed with a little research and the right tools at your disposal, becoming your own travel agent and travelling independently in a sustainable way where possible is easier than you think. Along with ad-free PDFs of my popular itineraries for use on the go, I’ve literally written the book to about how to better “blend in” on your future trips, too!
Get to know The Invisible Tourist
Staying in a hotel and travelling with a suitcase rather than a backpack doesn’t have to mean you’re disconnected from having an authentic, personalised travel experience.
Where I’ve Been
I’ve visited 260+ cities, 32 countries and 5 continents! Head over to my Where I’ve Been page to see where I’ve adventured around the world in more detail. You’ll find a lot of content on my blog about Japan, because it’s one of my favourite destinations in the world and I’m always planning another trip back!
My Travel Philosophy: Quality over Quantity
To really get the most out of a destination, I believe quality over quantity is key. Learning the local language and being my own tour guide whilst exploring at my own pace allows me to gain a deeper understanding of a destination and its culture that can’t be covered in a fleeting visit.
I thrive on discovering what makes a city and its people tick, admire architecture from centuries long gone and will always strive to achieve an authentic local experience where possible to help local jobs and businesses.
Staying in a hotel and travelling with a suitcase rather than a backpack doesn’t have to mean you’re disconnected from these things (which many people seem to think)! I’m hoping to break this stereotype through my guides and itineraries you’ll find on this responsible travel blog.
I like to give back to locals in other ways by shopping where they do, taking public transport to support local jobs and booking activities through them directly, rather than the large tour companies where the money doesn’t trickle back down to the local community.
One of the most helpful tools for travelling is learning enough of the local language – it’s crucial in getting you what you want and where you need to go.
My Travel Style: Mid-Range, Responsible Travel
For the past 14 years, my travel style has been made up of two parts:
1. Travelling with a mid-range budget
In terms of budget, I’m a mid-range traveller as I tend to steer away from low-budget style accommodation like hostels. I don’t use cost comparison websites to score the cheapest flights. On the other end of the spectrum, I don’t stay in full-blown luxury accommodation either. You’ll find me in the middle.
Travelling in a sustainable way is not always the cheapest option, and I believe as tourists it’s a price we are obligated to pay as a guest in a foreign destination. Again, I don’t endlessly search for the cheapest flights possible because many don’t show direct flight options. I prefer to book direct flights to my destinations 99% of the time despite any extra cost, rather than opting for multiple cheaper flights that take longer. I prefer to spend that extra time exploring!
My mission on every trip I undertake is to slow down at my destination, take it all in and truly enjoy the experience whilst getting the most bang-for-buck. I constantly encourage my friends to do so, too!
Here’s a complete list of all the mid-range travel resources I use (and refuse to use) when planning my travels.
2. Travelling independently or as a small, sustainable group
I can also be defined as a responsible traveller as always strive to blend in as much as possible amongst locals when travelling in order not to contribute to overtourism issues (which is why I won’t use Airbnb and use these ethical alternatives instead), so I will usually travel independently with my travel buddy or on my own.
When recommending travel options to others I won’t always rule out a small, organised tour group in certain circumstances – when time is very limited and there is too much to see. Small, locally-run group tours help your tourist money go directly back into the local community, where larger tours tend not to.
In saying that, I have travelled as part of a large tour group twice – On my first trip to Europe, which was a huge learning curve and turning point in the development of my travel style and again a few years later on a cruise of the Greek Islands and Turkey. To be completely honest, I would not travel on another large cruise again because of the negative consequences these are having in European port cities.
Although usually a cheap option, travelling as part of a large tour group is not a sustainable option in this age of overtourism, so I would no longer partake or encourage them.
Quirky facts about me
- I’m a language hoarder. I know little bits and pieces of a few different languages, none of which I am fluent in, though! I speak elementary level French (albeit rusty) and I’ve learnt the basics of Japanese, Spanish, Italian, can read some basic Greek and I’ve recently started learning Russian. Give me a foreign alphabet and I’m determined to master it, even if that’s all I end up mastering. I believe one of the most helpful tools for travelling is learning enough of the local language – it’s crucial in getting you what you want and where you need to go. More info how I easily learn language for travel here!
- Love collecting hand-crafted, traditional souvenirs from each of the places I travel to. These are mostly mementos I turn into Christmas decorations so I can relive my travel memories every year. Here are some of the best souvenirs in Japan I found!
- You won’t catch me staying in a backpacker’s dorm or travelling without my suitcase. As I’m an Australian and flying anywhere other than New Zealand means an 9+ hour flight, if I’m going somewhere it’s gotta be at least two weeks. Let’s face it, it’s always nice to travel with a few extra luxuries from home that help you feel like yourself. Not to mention the extra space needed for shopping to boost those local economies!
- I’m a self-confessed chocolate addict. If it’s there, it’s pretty much impossible for me to resist.
Being a responsible travel blog pretty much sums me up!
When I’m not travelling, I’m dreaming about it. When I’m not dreaming about it, I’m talking about it. You could say I’m a little bit obsessed with finding out more about this wonderful world we live in and to help best preserve the cultures of the places I visit. I have tonnes of research and material for places I am yet to travel to because I am determined to get there someday!
Finally, as I’ve already mentioned you won’t see a picture of me because, well, I like to remain invisible! If you’re a mid range traveller and would like to be an Invisible Tourist too, feel free to follow me on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and Pinterest for your regular travel fixes and travel advice from a unique perspective. Thanks for visiting my and I truly hope my responsible travel blog helps to inspire you convert your travel dreams into reality!
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Fully support any type of sustainable tourism. However, your remark that “Airbnb and home stays contribute to overtourism” is categorically untrue.
In fact pensiones and home stays have been around for generations and have been a way for locals to make autonomous money for many many years before Airbnb or similar websites ever existed (and long before you were born). The mere fact that you eschew them in favor of larger hotels (which are almost NEVER locally owned), is laughable and arrogantly irresponsible.
I have been traveling for over forty years and have stayed in many private homes, notably in areas where no other form of accommodation exists.
If you choose to be an “influencer” (i.e. the newest scourge of our society), then please do so responsibly and not with callous disregard for other humans on this planet so you can “create content.” Thank you
Yes, you’re correct, pensiones and home stays have been around for generations. And the point you are missing is they have not caused issues because they are regulated. I have included “unregulated” in that sentence about homestay accommodation. Regulated services such as traditional B&Bs, motels, ryokans, and other locally-owned services are completely fine.
If you’ve read my article about Airbnb problems citing multiple sources, you may understand this issue from a different perspective.
Here on my blog I highly recommend staying in locally owned accommodation, as large international hotel chains contribute to economic leakage. Locally owned accommodation can still be 3-4* hotels. I’ve talked about this in more detail in my guide to being a responsible tourist and in my book.
It’s a shame you think I am just one of the many dime-a-dozen “influencers” who don’t stand for anything. If you take the time to read more on my blog before commenting, you would see that is far from the case. Perhaps you are not as “Seasoned” as your name suggests 😉
Well said Alyse!
Thank you, bronros! I appreciate that 😊
We’re exactly the same type of traveler it’s uncanny!! I feel really happy to know there are people out there like you (and maybe others) that travel similarly. I’m a language hoarder too / mid-budget, and I prefer getting a feel for living there as opposed to just being a visitor. I’ll definitely follow your blog! 🙂
Yay, I am so pleased to hear that! It’s comments like yours that make me happiest and drive me to keep creating content to help “invisible” tourists like us 😃
Thanks so much for following along, I really appreciate it 🙌
Thanks a lot Alyse for the wonderful post.
This is the first time i came across the topic of invisible tourist. It’s interesting.
Please keep on posting such informative article.
Let’s hope for the best.
So glad to hear that, thank you! 🙂
Nice post Alyse. I also share these sentiments!
So glad you agree, Saptarshi!
I’m a student at Ohio State University in Columbus working on a student project dealing with millennial travel and souvenirs. Would you mind if I asked you some questions on the subject?
Nice blog. Thanks for sharing this
Many thanks and so glad you think so!
Thank you for this blog which is really rich in information to help travelers!
Cheers Lbaz, glad you think so!
Thank you Alyse. Keep it up. Your information is so helpful.
Thanks, Tamal! So glad you think so 🙂
Thanks for this very informative and helpful article. I hope that you will continue sharing this kind of blogs.
Thanks, so glad you think so 🙂
At last, there is a website that I can relate to!
I’m so glad to hear that, Betty! I knew there must be more of us out there 🙂 If you have any questions about your travels I’m here to help!
Haha.. language hoarder. I think I’ve finally found a way to describe my sub-standard language skills in languages I wish I was fluent in.
Yes! That’s exactly how it is, Bertahan. It’s better to give it a try and not be completely fluent than to never try at all 🙂