There has recently been published an article by one David Landsel in which he disbands the popularity of several pretty famous travel destinations for some pretty horrific reasons. The article has gained quite a bit of popularity on the internet, and has been shared a considerable number of times over social media. As a fellow travel blogger/writer, I obviously have absolutely nothing against travel critiques that are negative as long as they are honest and based on sound reasoning. In fact, I welcome such reviews even if personally I prefer writing mostly positive reviews. It is always a welcome change when an article points out the negative alongside the positive aspects as it can bring your expectations down to reality when the time comes for you to embark on your vacation. It’s nice to know what to expect in terms of weather, how much money to bring, what social mores to look out for, how much crime you should prepare for (if any) when on vacation.
However, this logic only applies if there is common sense behind the critiques which are well-founded and realistic and come from an educated outlook. For example, it is worth pointing out that Toronto (what up, hometown!) may not have the same plethora of gorgeous medieval buildings as Bruges – fair enough, good to know so that you don’t go there if a medieval vibe is what you’re after. On a budget? Some cities are naturally more affordable than others – from personal experience, I’d never advise anyone to go to London for a week if you don’t have at least a couple of hundred pounds to spend. Want a relaxing warm vacation for the entire family? Maybe don’t go to Moscow. Not altogether positive descriptors but, you know, helpful!
Pretty straightforward, right? The key is to assume from the get-go that every place and every individual there is of intrinsic value and has aspects to offer the likes of which you will not find elsewhere. If those specific features are not for you, then based on such a critique you can make a reasoned decision to go elsewhere. However, it just isn’t smart to assume that you can speak for everyone.
Now that THAT is off my chest, can we please just take a moment to appreciate how uninformative, biased, and, at times, frankly quite racist Mr. Landsel’s piece is?
- “There are places worth a thousand dollars in airfare. There are even places where eleven hours of flying is a small price to pay. Then there is Buenos Aires. The steak and wine are cheap, the ice cream is outstanding and — children, cover your ears — the sex is even better.” Instead he suggests we try Rio de Janerio because it has a bigger impact, although on what he fails to say. While Landsel may pick his vacations based on the availability of steak, wine and sex – all good things, don’t get me wrong – can we just go ahead and assume they are not universal measures by which vacations are assessed?
- Berlin is “an awkward teenager of a city, brimming with potential.” Now this one made me splutter tea all over my keyboard as I wondered if maybe the author was referring to the Town of Berlin, Connecticut? Because he sure as hell cannot have been talking about the the beautiful city of Berlin, capital of Germany, founded in 1192 AD?? He casts it off as a viable European destination because “Berlin is too modern, too sterile, too expensive and too unsure of itself to merit much of your time or money.” I’m just going to leave you with these images, Mr. Landsel:
Instead Landsel suggests we try Prague, which is sort of like saying “Don’t like cheesecake? Here’s a paella.” Moreover, he recommends that if you are “civilized” you avoid eating in the heathen savage state of the Czech Republic head over to Budapest pronto, where the eating habits of the locals will be much more civil and to your liking. He’s probably right, I mean, just look at those savage Czechs!
Landsel suggests we all avoid the Caribbean islands (because, gross!) and instead just go to Mexico which is less of “an expensive and time-sucking nightmare to reach” and is actually fun. (Can you imagine if Landsel ruled the world? The mind boggles) He also suggests we ignore San Francisco and head over straight to the Bay Area, go to Houston, TX instead of Austin, TX, visit Portland instead of Vancouver, Utah instead of Colorado, Hawaii instead of Costa Rica, and Detroit instead of Chicago. Not only does Landsel seem to have an irrational dislike for most of the Spanish-speaking Latin American countries except for Mexico, he is barely able to justify his suggestions which are, to put it softly, confusing.
Overall, his article is an excellent illustration of how NOT to write a travel piece. Not only does he not shy away from being blatantly offensive to local populations, he doesn’t recognize that people travel for different reasons and that not everyone in the world likes the same things (even if most of us do appreciate good wine, steak, and sex).