Saturday, May 18, 2024

Be a part of the overtourism solution. Here are some ways

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Scott Hartbeck | TravelPulse (TNS)

Seemingly not a day goes by without a story about overtourism showing up in the news.

Just last week, the Acropolis in Athens became the latest place to wave the white flag of surrender.

To prevent the global treasure from being overrun beyond recognition, the Greek government has announced that they will now institute a range of new actions aimed at curbing the crowds.

These measures include the rolling out of new e-tickets, entry time slots, special entrance zones aimed at reducing bottlenecks and new access lanes intended to accelerate the movement of tour groups.

The Acropolis joins Amsterdam, Barcelona, Dubrovnik, Venice, Hawai’i and scores more places that have been pushed to the brink of being “loved to death” by (mostly) well-meaning travelers.

So what should we do?

Well, we aren’t going to stop traveling any time soon, right? I know I’m not and I’ve got a feeling if you are reading this, you aren’t going to either.

I’m definitely down with traveling a little differently though if it helps ease the pressure, and the following are a few of the little things that have helped me avoid the worst of the crush over the last handful of years. My experience has been in Europe, but these strategies apply anywhere.

Expand your travel map

At its most basic, overtourism is simply just the phenomenon of too many people being in the same place at the same time. So it goes to figure that if we expand the list of destinations that we desire to visit, then some of the worst bucket list bottlenecks will ebb.

Simply being open-minded to new places is half the battle.

When it comes to finding those new, less crowded spots, in addition to working with a travel adviser — whose job it is to know destinations inside and out — scour the local bookstore for travel memoirs, watch as many shows and movies with a travel theme as you can (or just content set in a captivating locale like my colleague Pat Clarke described last week). You’re bound to see a surprise name land on your radar.

Taking your hobbies with you on holiday and seeking out ways to experience them while on a trip will lead you to different destinations than other folks, too.

I mean, think about it for a second: we are all so unique, so how on earth would it be that we’d all want to travel to the exact same places?

We don’t, we just don’t know it yet.

Find lesser-known attractions

Cities around the world are home to hundreds of attractions, but most folks just stick to the “Top 5.” Wander away from the “Must-See” sights to the “Probably Should See” places and you’ll be shocked at how thin the crowds get.

And when it comes to picking attractions, always remind yourself to try and do things that genuinely excite and interest you, as opposed to doing them just because you feel like you’re “supposed” to do them. This may lead you away from the typical tourist trail.

Simply sitting at a table in Paris watching the world go by might prove as memorable of a travel experience as elbowing others out of the way at the Louvre. The same goes for watching locals play a game in the park or watching a sunset. These little moments of bliss that can be enjoyed far from tourist hotspots can end up being the highlights of your trip.

Take a chance

Rolling the dice on a new destination can be a bit scary, but it’s also rewarding. Time and time again, I have come back from a trip and thought that the surprises were the highlight.

It’s almost universally true that a destination that comes with a ton of hype around it is ripe for being a letdown. One with no expectations on the other hand? Well, that’s a recipe for a pleasant surprise.

2 out of 3 isn’t bad

Last but not least, why not pencil in a policy that says for every two destinations you go to that are “world famous,” you balance that out with a place that’s off the beaten path.

If everyone did this, then we just might start seeing some real progress.

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©2023 Northstar Travel Media, LLC. Visit at travelpulse.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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