A lot of mainstream travel companies tout ‘local experiences’ as their offering. Do you have an opinion on that?
I feel the terms ‘authentic’, ‘adventure’ and ‘local experiences’ are bandied around a lot nowadays, as they know that’s what people are looking for and therefore, it’s what sells. It’s only when you follow through with some of these experiences that you realize a lot of it is bullshit. In some cases, locals have been roped in, told to smile and put on an act, and when the tourists leave, it all changes. The TVs come out, the internet is back on and life continues. I think doing it this way is incredibly disingenuous, fake and unfortunately, all in the name of making a quick buck.
Something else I’ve realized recently is that people know deep down that it’s not a real adventure or experience, but that’s fine with them and they just want to tell others that it was. And with the world of social media, with people constantly comparing themselves to each other, I believe this will continue. The thought of a real adventure may not sit well with them—that means that they may actually feel uncomfortable at some point and it might even be a little difficult, but I think people are getting softer and increasingly choosing the easy option.
What do you think stops people from going out on their own? Fear? Doubt? Is the world really such a scary place?
I genuinely think it’s down to a variety of reasons, most of them totally natural. I think time, money, family and work commitments, lack of confidence or knowledge and fear—the media can also make the world sound far scarier than it really is. But all these fears can be overcome.
In terms of the world being a scary place, I honestly believe that 99% of people on this planet are nice, genuine people who want the same basics from life that we all want, and without encountering any problems while pursuing these. Obviously, there are always a few areas where you’d be more cautious, but I think that careful planning and research can even make those places accessible.