We’ve all discovered lots of supposedly ‘secret’ places that we fell in love with because someone wrote about them on social media.
I, for one, love to get off the beaten path and find relatively unknown spots far from the maddening crowds. Of course, it is tempting to share these spots so that others can enjoy them, too – but what if that means they are not secret anymore?
So, just how specific do YOU get when you tag a location in a post?
An Italian affair
Last year, I was wandering around Italy. A mesmerizing road trip, the sea breeze stroking my skin, a view of endless olive trees, and the scent and taste of aromatic Italian food made it an unforgettable adventure.
And, of course, we saw tourists. A shit load of tourists (pardon my French). Especially in Instagram famous spots as Cinqueterre, Capri and Florence.
Merely eight minutes after arriving at the city center of Capri by cable train, I muttered: “I CANNOT do this, I need to get out”. Then, I promptly turned my back on Capri and took the next cable train back to the boats.
(Alright, alright… it wasn’t quite as prompt as that. You see, you need to queue for almost half an hour to actually get back on the cable train!)
I know what you must be thinking: “What did you expect, Charlotte? It’s high season and it’s Italy?” Here’s the thing: by the time we got to Capri, we had already been road tripping through the country for three whole weeks and never had this kind of horrific experience anywhere else.
Why? Because Italy has lots of hidden gems. You have to get off the beaten track, explore the unknown regions and ask locals where you should go. This will result in some of your best travel experiences… and you know what will make it even better? You will be able to hear your own breathing when you arrive, instead of being pushed into a massive crowd of loud tourists.
I am one of those people who literally cannot enjoy the great Goliath statue in Florence or the famous Duomo di Sienna when surrounded by an army of selfie sticks. You will see me literally jumping up and down in excitement when we spot a small lake in the far distance and find no one else there when we arrive. These moments are pure happiness. Not having to wonder which selfie stick or Ipad (who even takes photos with iPads, for crying out loud?) will block my view is bliss.
A menace unlike any other
So it comes down to this: I hate extremely touristy places when I travel. Not that I don’t like to be surrounded by many people, like on the busy streets of Indonesia, during festivities in Bangladesh, or even a festival in Belgium. But over-tourism is a different kind of menace.
So I rebel. I rebel against over-tourism.
Over-tourism can destroy fragile ecosystems and turn peaceful getaways into crowded nightmares. I would hate to contribute to a wave of people damaging a place I love.
And yet, on the other hand, when I see a beautiful picture on Instagram or Pinterest and the exact location isn’t tagged, it sometimes drives me nuts.
This is why I genuinely want to know what you think about this. Super specific geo-location tags so people know exactly how to get to that ‘secret’ spot, general country tags so travelers have to seek special places out themselves, or something in between?
Share your thoughts, rebels. It’s a discussion truly worth having in this time and age.