Last night while packing I caught this interview with Rebecca Jennings, whose recent trip to Positano, Italy, taught her something important about travel in the Instagram era:
Positano is blessed with a mild Mediterranean climate and a proximity to luxury and wealth; it is home to one of the most famous and majestic hotels in the world and provided the backdrop for Diane Lane’s whirlwind romance in Under the Tuscan Sun. Twenty years later, the town has become synonymous with the grandest of influencer travelscapes, clogging Instagram with photos of beautiful people on boats, staring back in wonder at the skyline behind them.
It is also the most unpleasant place I have ever been.
The problem of travel at this particular moment is not too many people traveling in general, it is too many people wanting to experience the exact same thing because they all went to the same websites and read the same reviews. It’s created the idea that if you do not go to this specific bar or stay in this exact neighborhood, all the money and time you spent on being here has been wasted, and you have settled for something that is not as perfect as it could have been.
A vacation is not, or at least shouldn’t be, a to-do list, something to be optimized with meticulously timed reservations months in advance, though increasingly this is what travel is: Unless you’ve secured a reserved time slot, the must-see museums of Florence and “you have to eat here” pasta spots in Rome are inaccessible for those unwilling to spend hours in line or so cramped that being there is no longer enjoyable.
I agree with Jennings, but she hasn't exactly gone to uncharted journalistic territory here. This sort of column or essay comes up all the time: a young person discovers something that has always existed, attributes this to a new technology or something unique to her generation, and gets accolades from her cohort. I have once or twice followed the herd while traveling, but usually only because I got to the museum too late to see the interesting bits.
Why do you think I prefer to go to Europe in March and October?