Travel should experienced, then snapped
It’s the most beautiful place I’ve ever seen, but I’ll always remember it as where I was slapped in the face. Plitvice Lakes National Park in Croatia has 16 lakes – with almost hypnotically turquoise water – linked by a chain of dramatic waterfalls, all among a Jurassic jungle.
But the trouble is that up to 15,000 people a day visit, and it’s crowded.
My appreciation for the place was slapped out of me by a selfiestick, as a woman in front of me swung her phone around with an impressive golf-like swing, and hit me in the face. Introducing the selfish selfie. But what surprised me the most was what happened at the next waterfall. The same woman backed into the crowd, launched her stick in the air, snapped a photo, then left – without even looking at the towering waterfall – probably the most beautiful in the park.
I’ve seen so many incidents like this. In Cambodia, more than 1000 of us lined up in front of Angkor Wat – pushing and shoving – to capture the sunrise. It had all the ambience of a crowded shopping centre, jostling for a place in the Christmas wrapping queue.
In the Maldives, more than 100 people from 12 boats chased a whale shark to get pictures. Kids were crying as people thrashed around in the water to get their GoPros close enough for a shot.
The main motivation of travel used to be about experiences – whether it’s culture, smells or sights.
Today, it seems the priority for many is Instagram – with culture, smells and sights a mere backdrop. Out to prove you’re having a great time actually means you can miss out on having that great time.
Take a look at my Instagram, and your phone may spontaneously combust from irony. Yes, I know: hypocrite. And I find the balance of being in the moment and enjoying it a really difficult one.
That’s why a recent glamping trip in the South Island was such an eye-opener. No power, limited reception – just me, my significant other and nature. So this is what travel was like in an era I call B I (Before Instagram). I quite like it.