The act of travel has always been a wildly popular idea by the general public. Why wouldn’t it be? Packing a suitcase, booking a flight and arriving at the destination we have dreamed of for the last year, ready to experience new food, visit incredible landmarks, meet new people and explore places we have never seen are all things the average person aspires toward. But travel has changed so dramatically over the years that it’s safe to say that what tourists experience today is worlds apart than what our grandparents saw decades before.
In many ways, traveling for vacation has gotten so much better because of the advancements in technology and the efficiency gains seen throughout the world. But with the focus on the world moving at a faster pace and becoming more digitized, the lack of personalization ramps up and the time we have to relax decreases, making travel not as great as the past. There are both pros and cons to how our vacations have changed over the years. These are the fifteen worse things about travel today and the ten best!
Long gone are the days when airplanes were filled with passengers dressed up in suits and dresses. The norm back in the 1960’s and 1950’s was well-dressed travelers who saw flying as a privilege that few got to enjoy, so it was a very one of a kind affair.
Unfortunately, in today’s world, flying has become somewhat of a jaded event for most with passengers seeing it as just another blasé event in their lives. Don’t expect to see anyone dressing up for the flight, considering it has become normal to see plenty of folks in their pajamas or dressed down sweats. It’s more comfortable now, but flying has lost much of the allure it had during its golden age half a century ago.
One of the greatest perks of traveling in 2019 is the profound improvement of maps. It was only a decade ago that people had to rely on a physical map to get around. Printing directions from MapQuest was a normal thing and even before that, it was necessary to actually purchase a real, physical map.
Today, we can pull up a real-time map of our current location on our smartphone and input our desired destination which gives us personalized directions and an accurate estimated time of arrival. Not only does it keep us from getting lost, but it’s an incredible timesaver.
Traveling is not something we all get to experience on a normal basis so you would expect most tourists to be fully invested in the activities and attractions they are paying so much money to experience. Unfortunately, it has become commonplace to see tourists constantly on their phones for a myriad of reasons, as they have become very much a part of our daily lives.
This doesn’t just mean photographing everything we see. Sometimes travelers are simply scrolling through their timeline, playing Candy Crush or checking the score on a basketball game, all the while ignoring the beauty around them.
During the golden years of flying over fifty years ago, airplanes were only for the wealthy back when travel was a pretty rare commodity. Nowadays, just about anyone can travel considering flying has become increasingly affordable with time. There are flights that can be purchased for way below $100 which is pretty incredible considering you don’t have to search too hard for them.
The competitive pricing between countless airlines has made traveling more affordable than ever, opening up a whole new world to people that otherwise would never have had the chance to travel.
Part of always being on our phones is our society’s current obsession with social media and it seems to ramp up even more when we travel. The need to document everything on our different social media platforms tends to become more important to us when visiting a foreign city. Wanting to check in at a world-class restaurant in Rome, show the world our selfie at the Eiffel Tower or that beautiful sunset over the Statue of Liberty becomes palpable.
This is great, but sometimes we need to leave social media out of it for a just a bit and take the time to be in the moment.
For some inexplicable reason, being labeled a “tourist” has become a bad thing. The word has become associated with some negative connotation as if being a tourist makes us less than a real traveler. It’s common for many to want to be associated with other words such as "world traveler" or "backpacker" which are commonly seen as more sophisticated for exploring the less beaten path.
The problem with wanting to get away from this connotation is the reality that these folks are missing out on great landmarks. Sure, it’s cliché to visit the Eiffel Tower when in Paris. Every tourist does it, but that doesn’t make it any less incredible.
Along with plane tickets becoming more affordable, other industries within the world of travel have followed suit and priced their services more affordably as well. Travel agents, attraction packages, and cruise line ships all offer incredible deals.
A perfect example of these great travel deals are the city pass type packages that include several of the most famous attractions for one low price. The attractions are popular picks and usually include entry into the most famous and visited landmarks.
Selfies have become engrained in our society, a part of our lives, probably becoming the most popular type of photo in the world now. Unfortunately, the need to take a selfie at every landmark imaginable can be a real problem. For starters, there are several documented cases of selfies being the reason for some serious damage to historically important artifacts.
According to thisisinsider.com, a tourist in Russia “attempted to take a selfie with the works of famed artists Francisco Goya and Salvador Dalí, knocking over an entire wall in the process.” This has become a fairly common occurrence at important landmarks across the world.
The days of having to choose between a limited number of hotels for a vacation are long gone. Nowadays, there are plenty of options available to travelers no matter the destination. Not only are hotels improving the quality of service and rooms they offer tourists, but new services like Airbnb and Homeaway have become a popular choice for people on vacation.
No longer limited to just one room, we are now free to rent out entire homes for very affordable prices that even compete with hotels.
Society should be grateful that airport security has become safer with each passing year, but with that intense scrutiny comes some plenty of hassle. More cautious and thorough security means much longer lines and times spent at airports. This can be seen as a pretty big setback for the average traveler who likely finds time in any airport stressful enough. The margin for being late and packing items that aren’t allowed are slimmer than ever.
Part of what makes all these new overnight stay options great is the ascension of Airbnb which has become a giant in the lodging industry that seems to only get more and more popular. The hotel industry is having a hard time competing because Airbnb can offer paying customers an entire house for a price similar to what is paid at a hotel for just one room.
No matter how nice that hotel may be, getting a house with a pool, an entire apartment with a view or a townhouse in the heart of the city are too great to pass on.
We’ve covered why Airbnb has been one of the reasons why traveling is better than ever today, but at the same time, it can also be one of the bigger letdowns as well.
Because there aren’t complete regulations on the industry, this gives homeowners a lot of flexibility and leeway over the home they are renting out. In other words, what they advertise doesn’t always match reality, resulting in some disappointed paying customers, sometimes downright outrage.
With airplane tickets and hotel stay becoming more affordable with each passing year, tourism numbers continue to rise. With more travelers visiting popular destinations, it can sometimes feel like many of the world’s famous landmarks have become overrun with tourists. Overcrowding has become a norm at places like the Great Wall of China, the Eiffel Tower and Times Square. We can’t blame anyone as we are part of the issue, but it can take away some of the beauty of an attraction to an extent.
We complain about the hassle of going through an airport, but the truth is they are actually pretty efficient considering the number of people they service and the number of airplanes coming in and out of their gates. With millions of people flying every day, airports are more efficient than ever before.
The number of delays and cancelled flights is better than ever before while trip times continue to get faster with the advent of better airplane technology.
There are certain landmarks that we have wanted to visit our entire lives because they have connected with us on some personal level for a variety of reasons. We have access to so much information now that we can learn, see and digest everything there is to know about a famous attraction. Everything, except the actual real-life experience we get up close and in person. When we finally get to see that one landmark, we might have seen so much of it and perceived it in such a way that it lets us down.
The Mona Lisa has broken many hearts as the experience of seeing it next to dozens of other tourists pushing and shoving for a two-second photo op takes away the majestic beauty of it all.
With tourism growing exponentially in countries around the world and the number of foreign visitors increasing at a rapid pace, locals see this as a perfect opportunity to make extra money. The exploitation of unsuspecting tourists is an ever growing trend seen in many countries, especially those with high poverty rates.
The scams don’t have to necessarily be the cliché "pickpocket" though. They have gotten more sophisticated with scammers working together in elaborate attempts to get fast money. The Taj Mahal has seen locals pretending to be tour guides and taking money from tourists while showing them around the famous site.
One of the great perks of traveling today is the flight itself. It was only a few years ago that passengers were at the mercy of not being able to do anything other than two real options – sleep or read a book. Nowadays WiFi allows us to use our personal devices and if that’s not an option we want to take, many airplanes come equipped with incredible in-flight entertainment that is more than enough to keep us distracted for several hours. Music, movies, shows, and games are a few ways to stay busy while in the air.
Flying in an airplane was once a big deal and the unofficial rules of the plane were followed by all passengers. The years of the past have given way to travelers who are either unfamiliar with plane etiquette or simply disregard it. Everyone has heard nightmare flight stories, but over the years they have gotten pretty bad.
Don’t be surprised if you run into a neighbor on the plane who thinks it’s ok to turn up the volume on their tablet, put their feet up on the armrest in front of them or use your shoulder as a headrest for their long nap.
The entire point of social media is to essentially present yourself in such a way that makes you look as great as possible. So when our friends, family and the celebs we follow post a picture at a famous landmark, it’s going to be presented in a positive light. This tends to really hype up the well-known location and can create a false sense of what it truly is like.
Case in point – no one is going to post a picture of the gondolas in Venice bumping into one another while navigating the highly trafficked waters of the city.
Many travelers choose to stick to an itinerary to get the best out of their trip, but this doesn’t always necessarily account for the inevitable obstacles and surprise setbacks we are sure to encounter. When this happens in 2019, the entire trip doesn’t have to go down the drain. We are able to book a new activity in real-time or change hotels at the last minute, making our lives easier than ever. It’s simply a blessing that travelers today can take advantage of things that tourists of yesteryear never knew about.
There’s nothing wrong with millennials. In fact, the generation has brought a lot of fun and culture to the world in ways never seen before. But there is some truth to how the hipsters of the world have changed things in a way that isn’t the best. It seems like everywhere we visit, there are vegan cafes with acoustic music playing in the background.
That’s certainly a great vibe, but the hipster takeover at all of the places we visit can sometimes get a bit overwhelming when tourists are simply looking for a laid back down to earth activity.
Half of this issue simply boils down to a matter of time not being on our side. With each passing year, historical landmarks that have been standing for centuries, or even more in many cases, are gradually eroding. Our travel plans can get ruined as landmarks sometimes need to be temporarily closed for repairs or renovations.
Unfortunately, other times, inconsiderate tourists purposely deface these important sites, which has been a known issue for some time.
Decades ago if we wanted to travel to a city, we went off hearsay and word of mouth. Where we booked a hotel stay depended on what TV commercials sold us on. Today, with the click of a mouse, we can go online and read thousands of reviews and research countless websites to get a fairly accurate feel of that Airbnb we want to book, that restaurant we want to make a reservation at or that musical we want to purchase tickets for.
Reviews by our fellow travelers give us unprecedented insight into travel we never had before, putting us at ease with the choices we make and the money we spend.
Being on our phones has already been covered, but this entry is about our need to always be connected to technology no matter what part of the world we are visiting. Sometimes we bring our work with us, Google every single thing we come across and stay connected to the web, nonstop.
There are times when we should just disconnect entirely and let ourselves get lost in a new city or roam around the woods without the need to be tuned into the internet.
According to cntraveller.com, “people have always made journeys alone – but increasingly, it’s how we choose to travel. A recent Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) survey found that one in nine holidaymakers had taken a holiday on their own the previous 12 months, double the number compared to six years previously.”
This is a testament to how travel has changed significantly over time with the stigma of traveling alone going away. It’s no longer considered “weird” or “odd” to book a vacation for a solo trip. In fact, it is seen as more enlightening and enjoyable by many now!
Sources: This Is Insider, CN Traveller