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Have Influencers, Bloggers & Social Media Skewed Our Travel Perceptions & Enjoyment?
Sometimes you write something with an idea in mind but it doesn’t fully get fleshed out until later. Sometimes others reactions to that post or their comments allow you to better realize the point you were trying to make. I think my post why you will never see a trip report from me to the Maldives falls into that category, at least for me it does.
I said in the article that the post was not about the Maldives so much, and it wasn’t, it was more about why the Maldives were so popular. There were many amazing comments from readers, I encourage you to check them out, and they helped me fine tune what I was trying to say. Some may have even said it better than I could so I wanted to share some of those with you and go into a little more detail on the topic.
Are We Being Influenced Too Much?
If you have watched the amazing documentaries on the Fyre Festival then you can see where I am going with this. I would also encourage you to watch this YouTube video. It does a great job of breaking down what types of issues we are dealing with in today’s culture and how something like the Fyre Festival could happen.
The linked YouTube video talks about the Aura Phenomenon that is happening in our culture. This is essentially people going to a place or an experience to be a part of the aura. The point is to document them being there versus going there for the actual experience that happens when you get there. My point was that I feel like the Maldives has become that for many people. Look at Maya Bay for further evidence of this happening, which the film The Beach made famous.
Now there are people who go to the Maldives for the amazing snorkeling etc. like Andy and John commented on the post. But I don’t think those are the reasons it has become as popular as it has. I think social media and bloggers posting about it have built up an aura around the place. I think Nancy had a good comment about it.
My Own Experience
I myself have fallen victim to this. When the Park Hyatt NYC first came out that is all we heard and read about. We heard how nice it was and what kind of value you get from the redemption etc. So when I took my wife to NYC for her first trip there where do you think I decided to book my stay? The Park Hyatt of course. It wasn’t because it was the best location for what we wanted to do or because it was the best fit for our needs. It was because it was close to $1000 a night and I felt like I needed to get maximum value for my points.
Well our feelings on the property were much like Shawn’s. I have been to NYC around 10 times over the past few years and I usually stay somewhere else each time. Staying at the Park Hyatt was probably one of my least memorable experiences. I made a decision based on influence rather than just doing what was best for me. It is a beautiful property but is it 10,000 points better than another Hyatt in NYC? Nope. Would I rather get a 3rd night essentially free in NYC by taking the lessor property? You bet! And I think that may be why it didn’t quite feel right to me.
Has This Aura Phenomenon Made Us Less Happy Travelers?
Another amazing comment in the post was by flybyFIRE talking about how their view has been skewed some by social media and travel blogs. And they don’t get the same simplistic joy out of travel that they used to.
I have seen the nasty side of this in Facebook Groups and on FlyerTalk etc. Where people are shamed if they take simple trips with miles and points because the value is so much better used for first class flights to Europe etc. We have become so beholden to value and keeping up with the joneses that we sometimes lose sight of why we got into this in the first place. The goal was to see places that we couldn’t afford to see otherwise (at least that is the case for me).
I don’t think many people thought they had to fly first class everywhere starting out. Don’t get me wrong it is amazing and fun to do but there is nothing wrong with an economy flight to Europe either. Before all of this I would have just been happy to be in New York City, the way I got there or where I stayed would not have mattered much to me.
My Personal Experience
Most of my flights are in economy because I want to stretch my miles and points and I hate paying for travel. I will be flying lie flat to Amsterdam in May and while I am excited about that I am actually more excited for my economy trip to St. John’s Newfoundland. That is because the city looks amazing and the countryside looks breathtaking. The destination is my true goal after all.
I think sometimes blogs and readers fall in love with getting to a destination in the best way possible and forget about the destination. Has anyone been tempted to go to the Middle East just to fly Emirates? If you answer yes, I know I have thought like that before, the real question is why do you feel that way?
I know there are some serious AV geeks out there and that means that they probably enjoy the getting there as much if not more than the being there. But I don’t think that is the case for a lot of us. But with these trip reports and IG posts we feel like if we don’t fly Cathay Pacific first class we are not a real traveler etc.
Shawn took his family around the world for many months living in hostels and motels riding buses and trains. He has also traveled in some of the better first class products out there. Shawn loves his comfy seat for sure but I also know he cherishes the memories that he made on that budget around the world trip. I have rarely looked back at a vacation and thought about how great the suite was etc.
I hope I did a better job expressing my thoughts this time around. And I want to thank all of the readers who read and commented on the original post. Even TNT who I know doesn’t agree with me on this (him and George had a good back and forth which was too long to post here). I just hope when you plan future travels you pick a place that works best for you and don’t be afraid to miss out on the “aura” if it doesn’t line up for you.
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