“Do it for the instas!” Sadly, that seems to be part of the travel experience these days. And if you’re not careful those photos end up looking an awful lot like the images of so many others prior. Undoubtedly, those who come after will produce similar shots as well. With a bit of spare time and some photo editing chops (as well as likely violating copyright on every single image included since the Instagram credit isn’t given) Oliver Kmia put together this video showing off many of the photo themes.
I came up with this idea last year while traveling in Roma. I wanted to take a look at the popular Trevi Fountain but I never managed to get close to it. The place was assaulted by hundreds of tourists, some of them formed a huge line to get a spot in front of the Fountain. Needless to say that I was very pissed by this sight and left for the not less crowded Pantheon.
I feel that. Truly. I had a similar thought when in Luang Prabang, Laos a couple years back (and I understand it is way worse these days).
Most of the people I saw respected the rules, the monks and the sanctity of the event. But there were enough who did not that it made me feel guilty about being there, watching it happen.
I was part of the problem there, taking the photos, though certainly not flash photos nor interfering with the procession. Still, I wondered if I was really having the “correct” experience at that moment.
Read More: Monks on parade in Luang Prabang, Laos
Similarly, I’ve taken many of the same photos that Kmia calls out his video. There’s a segment at Maho Beach in St. Maarten, for example. I’ve definitely been there and snapped plenty of shots. Airplane wingtips and a passport shot with the next flight are common for me, too. Less with the bikini selfies, fortunately for everyone.
Does that mean I’m traveling wrong?
Does that mean I’m not “experiencing” a destination?
— Seth Miller (@WandrMe) June 26, 2017
At a conference I attended last summer a representative from AirBnB suggested that the company allows people to “live like a local” rather than be a tourist. As though one is better than the other. But as a short-term visitor to a location I generally am a tourist. I certainly am not a local. I can ride the metro or bus, eat at the corner restaurant and even buy groceries to stock my room. That doesn’t make me a local. And it shouldn’t.
There are certainly destinations where I feel more comfortable. I’m pretty good at navigating the Hamburg metro system, for example. I even mostly understand the ferries there. And I have a few “regular” restaurants I try to hit up when I return each year. But I’m still not a local. I’m a visitor.
That doesn’t mean I’ll fight my way through the crowds to see the Mona Lisa at the Louvre. I’ve been in Paris a half dozen times and chosen other museums to frequent. Because that’s my prerogative. But I also went to Sacre Coeur and watched evening settle on the city. Like hundreds of others on that afternoon and thousands that month.
Those shared experiences are not necessarily bad. So long as you’re doing it because you want to. Travel, and really life in general, should be about exploring yourself, not performing for others.
Unless you’re an actor. In which case get out there on your stage. Just please don’t call yourself an influencer. Because that’s disgusting.
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