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Thursday, November 26, 2015

Travel Mobs

There are a lot of great places to travel. Information about trips and destinations has never been more easily accessible. With a little research it's possible to get more than enough information to plan most trips.

At one time the intrepid traveler would be lucky if the destination bore any resemblance at all to the published guidebooks. Now it's possible, in the comfort of one's own home, to call up pretty decent satellite photos on a vast array of electronic platforms. We've also got great maps, charts and GPS navigation.

In spite of that people pay outrageous fees to attend seminars and to hire guides. One time some family members and I went for a short hike. There's a spectacular view from cliffs about a two hour hike from the road in northern NH. The trail is pretty much a straight shot from the parking area to the top.

We were enjoying the view when a good sized crew of people joined us on top. After talking to them for a while it became clear that they were all part of group from Boston. They had paid a significant fee for a guide to take them on that hike -that 2 hour straight shot up the hill hike. Maybe it's because I've never had much money to throw away, but that seemed crazy to me. Anyone who could not follow a wide straight trail for a couple hours probably had no business in the woods in the first place.

Then there was the time when a favorite canoeing spot was featured in a premier glossy outdoors magazine. The author pointed out how underutilized that section of the river was. For the next few years that river was nothing but underutilized. Eventually the crowds went off to new places recommended by the magazines.

Now I dread opening up sailing magazines. They are putting on expensive seminars and guiding trips for places I've been and places I want to go to. That has the effect of overwhelming some of the more fragile places. It's one thing if a place is visited by individuals and small groups over the course of the year. It's something else when everyone shows up at the same time. Vegetation bounces back if a few people hike over it. When hundreds do in a few days, it gets wiped out. A few people can ease into an anchorage and view wildlife. Many people and all they can see is each other. It's not the total number of people so much as the fact that they are all there on the same day.

What is it with people that they feel they need to be led around by the hand? Some may think it's safer to travel in groups, but often it isn't. As an individual I can decide the conditions aren't very good so the trip gets postponed a few days or weeks. No problem. However, a scheduled trip is a scheduled trip. It would take a hurricane to make they cancel and have to send all the checks back. A large group brings problems of their own.

There are many many organized trips guiding people all over the planet. Woe be it to the individual traveler who follows in their wake. By the time he gets there the locals are sick of tourists, prices are higher, and some of the good stuff is ruined. Locals will interact differently with a few travelers and you can really experience the area. A large group has its own dynamic where they mostly experience each other.

For me, there's two big issues at play here. One is the high price of these services, the other is that you are traveling in a mob. Those articles about guided trips are very useful to me. I can find out when those big guided trips are and can then avoid them.



  1. Being part of a large mob seems very counter-productive to me. Hard to enjoy the peace and quiet of a place with a large crowd of folks all talking at once.

    Natural beauty should be savored slowly, not gobbled up by a crowd all at once!

  2. I think getting "away'' is to exactly that - getting away from people and enjoying the world's wonders without beings surround by tourists being told what to look at.
    May you and your family have a blessed Thanksgiving, Sixbears.

    1. Thank you. May you and yours have a good one as well.

  3. Being alone in Nature in different weather and times of day and night are THE only way to really experience it.

    1. You have to be part of it to experience it.