Is travel overrated?

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I spent last year travelling around the US, Canada and Europe. I couldn’t tell you how excited I was to get away from boring Melbourne and venture out into the world.

I had seen so many pictures scattered over social media platforms, especially Instagram. All I wanted was to go to those locations and see the spectacular views and ancient artefacts for myself.

The first stop on my trip was Greece, known for its clear waters, its array of islands, its mythology and its parties. It was only a few days into the trip, when I arrived in Mykonos, that I decided it was all overrated. The island was tiny, there was nothing to do aside from eat and lie on the beach, and the party scene was poor. I thought to myself ‘we have better night life in Melbourne. I could have stayed home.’

It got to the point where I realised that I was thinking this everywhere. Melbourne had better coffee than Amsterdam, better pizza than New York, better pasta than Italy, better streets than everywhere. I never got used to the putrid smell of sewers in Europe or the rough-looking villages everywhere in LA outside of Beverly Hills and Malibu.

The views were disappointing. Santorini had the beautiful white houses I went there for in one tiny corner, but everywhere else looked tired. Every country’s artefacts were overcrowded with tourists and I became disheartened while trying to see them, as I thought of the pictures with pretty filters that I had seen where the Mona Lisa looked bigger and the Eiffel Tower looked more romantic.

By the time I returned home I felt angry. I had spent years dreaming of this trip and just as long saving for it, just to find it all extremely mediocre.

When people started asking me how amazing it was, I simply replied, ‘It was okay.’ I started getting looked at like I was crazy.

It got to the point where I found myself starting to lie, ‘Yes, it was amazing. You have to go,’ I’d say enthusiastically as I recalled my many underwhelming experiences and tried to  make them sound exciting.

Then one day, I got tired of the lies. I was talking to some girls who had been to Europe too and I said, ‘Look, honestly. I was underwhelmed by it.’ And they actually responded, ‘Me too.’ I couldn’t believe it. We recalled our trips and I discovered that they thought all the same things I did.

Once I realised that I wasn’t the only one who felt this way, I began to wonder if the people who did rave about their holidays were lying, and if so, why didn’t they warn me instead? I would rather not have paid $15,000 to find out myself. When I eventually realised that there were some people who had openly expressed their opinions on the internet, instead of faking the glorification of it, I thought, ‘good!’ When I was shown this video and read Oliver’s concept behind it, all I could think was yes. He was spot on.

http://https://vimeo.com/253334732

Cited: Oliver KMIA

“I came up with this idea last year while traveling in Roma.” He said, “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.”

As I read this, I imagined myself pushing through the crowd, trying to reach the Trevi Fountain. It took two days to reach my goal. The crowd of people sickened me, everywhere I turned there they were, overcrowding the city on a 35-degree day, making the air feel hotter.

Oliver thought the same again, “I was shocked by the mass of people walking all around the city, yet I was one of them, not better or worst. Like all these tourists, I burned hundreds of gallons of fuel to get there, rushed to visit the city in a few days and stayed in a hotel downtown.”

It was a similar story on my trip. Everyone was constantly holding their phones, waiting to snap the perfect picture and my friend fit right in, never living in the moment but through technology. We got to the second last day of the trip before I got so fed up with her incessant photo taking that I voiced my opinions. Needless to say, we didn’t speak for the rest of the trip.

Oliver couldn’t have explained how I felt any better, “During my trip, I felt that many people didn’t really enjoy the moment and were hooked to their smartphones. As if the ultimate goal of travel was to brag about it online and run after the likes and followers.”

The whole trip felt like a cliché, and  I felt myself wishing I was born in a different era, one where technology didn’t exist.

Social media has unlocked a new type of experience which lacks variety and has been over-ruled by homogeneity.

Yet despite all this, it was a month after I returned home that I found myself booking tickets to Bali.

I found myself print screening pictures on Instagram of places I want to go and asked myself, ‘why are you doing this again?’

I found my answer was that, I was lucky to be able to seek out wonders through other people, wishing to share the same human experience.

And my trip, whether I thought it was good or bad, was one that will stay in my memories forever, reminiscing all the new things I tried and realising how much I gained from it.

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