Smartphones, tablets, laptops, macbooks etc have all made it so that the world is quite literally at our fingertips. While absolutely positive and advantageous in many ways, this can feel slightly problematic at times…
Königsee, Wolfgangsee, Hallstatt, Nationalpark Hohe Tauern, Krimmler Waterfalls, the Rauriser Urwald, Vienna (and ahem Paolo Nutini- a sight worth mentioning in himself surely), Munich, Dachau…..Just some examples of the standout adventures that I got to go on before the Christmas markets were even stocked of their Glühwein, Maroni and sparkling ornaments. It’s odd that something as simple as listing where you’ve been can offer such a (smug) sense of satisfaction. It’s like checking off a cultural scorecard.
As a girl who loves any excuse to go on an old excursion, there inevitably comes a point (usually when faced with a delay or an unforeseen complication) where I begin to lose the ability to pinpoint exactly why it is that I set off in the first place.
What compels us to travel?
The answer is simultaneously endless and ineffable, usually so difficult to verbalise that the questioned party can only opt for an eloquent shrug of the shoulders in explanation. At least, that’s what I do.
The world is growing ever smaller as transportation becomes an increasingly cheaper and easier medium to launch you from your own reality to someone else’s. Unfortunately, the result of belonging to a culture in which you have’t truly been somewhere unless you’ve taken the picture and shared it with all your friends (I know, I know, I’m guilty too) means that social media and the internet in general seem to be regurgitating the same photographs on repeat.
Don’t act like you haven’t noticed.
The exotic is at risk of rapidly becoming mundane if the only thing changing above the like button is the face and the name of the person posting.
Also, we really need to infuse some more originality into tourist photographs (people with a ‘holding the Eiffel Tower’ or ‘leaning against the tower of Pisa’ pic, I’m looking at you in particular).
Last week I was discussing my experience of the Krampuslauf (a tradition in which an Orc-like individual beat me on the legs with a branch all in the name of Christmas; would NOT recommend to a friend) with an Austrian family. They were disappointed at the particular parade that I had been brought to and lamented the fact that I hadn’t experienced the true character of the festivities. So it turned out that the tradition I had happily been fed wasn’t an authentic one at all.
I then began thinking about the value that is placed on the notion of authenticity. In truth, it is the holy grail of most travellers. Many of us try to delude ourselves into thinking that we have drunk from the cup but the fact of the matter is that authenticity is an impossibility for the outsider-let-in.Well-meaning as we may be, package-holidays advertising themselves as ‘a slice of the authentic’ is enough to convince me of the futility of these efforts.
Yet on we continue with our respective games of intercontinental Bingo. So, what is the driving force behind this ‘wanderlust’?
Escapism? Curiosity? A sense of adventure?
All of the above and so much more- travelling is a wonderful thing. Ultimately, I think the key to having an unparalleled experience lies in doing just that, not comparing it with others and no longer trying to convince people of what a good time you’re having. (Says the girl who is blogging about her Erasmus experience, oh the irony).