Who can deny it… Instagram makes you want to travel. We rogues are just as guilty as everyone else. That emerald ocean pic pops up on our feed and suddenly we’re down a rabbit hole of “where is that”, “how do I get there”, “are there pics on Pinterest”, “I’m going to google it”… It’s endless! Let’s face it, who doesn’t want to end up somewhere majestic and beautiful? But the real truth of it is… the most majestic places are the ones that are unexplored.
Have you ever been to Times Square in NYC? If you haven’t I’ll try to paint a quick picture for you. Imagine the biggest shopping mall in your city or town. Then, imagine it outdoors with giant LED billboards on all of the stores. That’s about it. If you’ve ever seen a GAP, or a Disney Store before in your life… well… you already have the gist of Times Square. I’m not trying to put down my hometown right now, but I’m trying to clarify the expectations. Tourist traps are generally the same everywhere.
Now, can you imagine the Beaux Artes Mansion on 35th street? Probably not. No one stands in front of it to look cute on Instagram, yet the block it’s on it full of beautiful historic mansions, right in the heart of NYC!
Some photos may look like paradise, but behind that sparkling beach is a resort and a McDonald’s and probably a GAP or a Disney Store. If this is your kind of trip, then by all means, go do your thing! But if you’re looking to find the real magic, it’s in the less popular places – the places that aren’t frequented by tourists more than they are by locals, and more often than not you won’t even find these places until you’re there. That’s why it’s so important to talk to locals, fellow backpackers and explore. One of our most magical stops, Flores, Guatemala, was a desperate attempt to find sleep on our route South.
But let’s be real… We’ve all seen a McDonald’s before. Why pay all that money to go see one elsewhere?