As we refined our itineraries, I did a lot of research on various travel sites and search engines to get some ideas about countries I was less familiar with than Europe. I would broadly search for three weeks in Thailand? or 1 month in Peru?. Most of the time, the first few hits were forums from the most popular travel sites, such as Fodors, Lonely Planet and TripAdvisor. I was delighted to discover that I was not the first traveler to ask the internets these sorts of general questions, forums are filled with such threads. Usually the first responders prompted the poster to think a little more carefully, do a little more research and come back with a specific itinerary or questions about a specific region. ‘We’d be happy to help!’ the internet masses would respond. ‘Oh, how lovely, I thought, ‘this seems like a supportive community who might help a newb like me out.’ More often than not, the original poster came back to the thread and shared their plans.
I can say, as someone who has spent a fair number of hours humming and hahing over multiple routes and options culled from guidebooks, Pinterest boards, city-data sites, maps, blogs and brochures, the presentation of The Itinerary is quite a big step. That is to say, you’ve put effort into it…you’ve really tried to get it right.
Unfortunately, here’s where I started to loose faith in the online travel community. As I continued to read through the message boards, I was dismayed to discover the majority of posted itineraries were met with contempt and ridicule from the more ‘experienced’ nomads.
‘You are wasting your time there.’
‘Why on earth are you spending so many days in that city?’
‘If that’s what you want, you may as well sign up for a bus tour’
‘That won’t be the real -insert country here- authentic experience’
‘You’ve got to get off the beaten path’
If I got this type of feedback every time I answered the question ‘where are you going?!?’ I think I’d quit completely. It’s hard enough to plan a big trip to a place you’ve never been, on a scale you never thought possible, without getting points taken off for not being authentic enough. Now I have to worry about being cutting edge on my adventure? Other than having to visit a city full of the French, is there something intrinsically stupid about wanting to see the effing Eiffel Tower?
I’m glad I’m not the only one who feels this way. To all you travel snobs out there…it is going to be authentic for me, because I’m going there. You can’t get more real than that.