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Experimental tourism is a novel approach to tourism in which visitors do not visit the ordinary tourist attractions (or, at least not with the ordinary approach), but allow whim to guide them. 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 - leave your front door, turn right, turn left at the next intersection, turn right at the next, etc., alternating each direction, until you are unable to continue because of an obstruction.
  • Cecitourism - in which a tourist is blindfolded and allows a friend to escort them through the city.
  • 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.

Other ideas do not have particular names:

  • Follow friends on their vacation without their knowledge and take photographs of them, to show to them upon their return.
  • "Tour" your 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 you are visiting with you, go to 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, do the same with the bartender there, and continue.

The concept was developed by writer Joel 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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