Ignore the Travel Tastemakers and Explore

Nicaragua Big Corn Island

That place is so 2015…

“Iceland is done.”

“Myanmar was last year’s story.”

“Nicaragua’s not hot anymore.”

“We can’t cover Albania yet—there’s nowhere to stay.”

These are all actual reasons an editor stated when rejecting a pitch from travel writers I know in the past six months. Add to that “We’ve done enough about Canada.”

For editors of the big travel magazines, the newspapers that still have a travel section, and the big corporate websites, what’s new and hot matters more than anything. If they gushed about it last year, they can’t gush about it next year because, well, they’ve done that already. If it was on their list of “17 Fab Places You MUST Visit in 2015” then in 2017 it is, of course, “Done.”

If you don’t believe me, check out this hot list from Conde Nast Traveller for 2016 then this same list from the next year.

2016: Cuba, Quito, Boracay, Lisbon, Ireland, Zanzibar, Nepal, Iran, Rio, Barbuda

2017: California, Cambodia, Denmark, Hampi, Paphos (Cyprus), Canada, Maldives, St. Helena (UK), Belize, Chile

Destinations in common: 0

Lisbon Portugal travel

2,500 years old, but last year’s news.

Go Your Own Way

We frequent travelers know this is silly. Downright stupid really. Places don’t change very much in the course of a year unless there’s a war or a coup. The main reason these magazines justify what’s hot or not is whether there’s a new flight route (preferably from an advertiser) or a new luxury hotel there (preferably from an advertiser).

We can ignore all that and just go places that are worth visiting. If we’re slow travelers not zipping off for a weekend, a connecting flight isn’t going to kill us. If there’s not a luxury hotel there, I think we’ll manage. We wouldn’t spend that much on lodging anyway.

Boracay in 2017 isn’t much different than when I visited last year. You should visit Canada this year if you can because it’s their birthday and all the national parks are free. But if you go in 2018 instead, it won’t be “done.”

travel to Canada

Apparently there’s a party going on here.

Cambodia has been in my World’s Cheapest Destinations book for several editions and I visited Hampi in 1994. While I was wandering among the rocks and temples, I guess I should have known that it would take 23 years for a glossy travel magazine to deem it worthy of a visit. After all, CNTraveller says, “The drawback was that, until recently, there were few appealing places to stay…”

Apparently now we can stay in a place where “Suites are huge, with canopied beds and sculpted windows and decidedly un-14th-century Jacuzzis.” So now the area is worth visiting. Because you go all the way to India to soak in a hot tub in your hotel room.

The next time you see “must visit,” “hot destinations,” or a number and “best” in a story about where to go, just move along. Save your attention and your clicks for researching where you want to go.

  1. Keith Mundy

    So well said, Tim! And if Hampi is now going to be swamped with luxury travellers, then it’ll be a place to avoid rather than cherish. That said, I doubt whether that many of those fragile people will venture into the wilds of Karnataka, thank god.

  2. Daniél Lecoq

    This explains why I read about Denmark in every newspaper. I’d rather go to Sweden or Norway though.

  3. Doug

    It is silly to not visit a place because it’s popular, but I think where to write about is a little different. Everybody should see Paris and London, but it’s common knowledge what’s worth seeing there. Cameroon and Bangladesh don’t get any coverage, though, so nobody can make the comparison on which one they’d rather see.

  4. Christine

    I love this post! It’s easy to get caught up wanting the visit the so-called ‘hot spots’ and missing out on great destinations. Our travel plan is simple – if we like it, we go there!

  5. Ben Harper

    Nice Article! This will help a lot of travelers like me. Even though, that’s the only way I could afford all the trips.

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