As I'm writing this post, I'm currently sitting in a cafe in the design district of Milan.
Coffee and espresso orders are being shouted in the most affectionate way that I think only Italians can manage, as the morning commuters hurry along outside to the nearest Metro station. Less than 12 hours ago, I wasn't entirely sure if I would be extending the last part of this jaunt through Italy before hopping over to Paris for a last minute press trip. It's a funny thing, having "unplanned" time during a trip and it's something that I think most of us dread, especially when traveling alone, as I will be for the next few days. Between social media influencing our vacation planning decisions and the seemingly endless accommodation options on AirBnB, the very thought of leaving certain decisions to chance seems reckless. Careless even? Or just plain unprepared. Why leave some decisions to the last minute when there's infinite trips being shared online all the time, with the perfect vantage points, the perfect cafes and the perfect restaurants that have essentially made the decisions for you. Takes the guess work out of traveling, so to speak.
Don't get me wrong. I don't mean for my perhaps sarcastic tone to be misinterpreted. In a lot of ways, I think social media has been an incredible gateway through which we can not only see the world but EXPERIENCE it as well -- taking the foreign and making it familiar -- encouraging us to just go OUT and GET IN IT. Heck, I owe much of my career based in traveling for a living to the democratization of travel on social media and there isn't a day or a trip that goes by that I don't feel incredibly thankful for that.
I suppose where it gets me though, is the slippery slope we find ourselves on now, myself included -- in which the very curiosity and exploration factors of travel are being homogenized. Think about it. How many times have you seen the rocky, colorful hillside of Positano this summer from the influencers you follow? Or Capri? Or Paris? Or Morocco? 4? 5? 20? And each time, I'm afraid to say, there isn't much variety in the photos shared. It's the same balcony shot, it's the same restaurant doorway, it's the same umbrella and rocky beach shot, and while I think there's beauty in sharing those gem locations, it makes me wonder what it's all for -- to experience something or just to prove something? If we don't get those exact same shots, were we even there? As someone who is certainly guilty of all of the above on previous trips and has even gone out of her way to get certain perfect vantage points all for the 'gram usually at the cost of a few grey hairs, I'm now starting to realize as a content creator and consumer, I'm exhausted and quite honestly, to put it lightly, bored.
"Trips gives influencers a chance to create unique, beautiful imagery, but it’s often the same thing over, and over, and over, and over. Same landscapes, same boat shots, same doorways. These posts gloss over the quiet in-between moments, the new things you’ve never seen before, the times you were a little scared or lost in awe. They begin to look the same and followers can’t distinguish one from the other.
You can manufacture a lot of things but in-real-life experiences should be about wonder and joy and discovery and you can’t manufacture those things."
I'm still sitting in the same cafe as before, now moving onto my afternoon espresso, killing a bit of time before my train to Florence leaves. I'm very aware that you all have seen plenty of Italy and Paris this summer on your Instagram feeds so I won't sit here and pretend that my content is somehow revolutionary -- it's not. But what I do hope to do more of, especially in the days ahead as I travel alone, is to share the sense of wonder that we all desperately look for when traveling -- the good, the frightening, the majestic -- and if I can't seem to document it in a photo, well then I certainly hope a good story will suffice.
After all, we all love a good story, right? I know I do.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a train to catch. Arrivederci!
OUTFIT DETAILS: Carolina Herrera ball gown skirt (picked up at their sample sale, love this current style here) // Zara halter top (similar style here) // Sergio Rossi heels // Jacquemus hat // Chanel earrings