"I just want to travel, to see the world before I go to university."
So you plan your trip from the comfort of your parents’ house. Sitting on the sofa, clutching the laptop you were given for passing your AS levels. You’ve been inspired by seeing posts on Facebook, photos of distant sunshine and tropical beaches on instagram - you want to collect the same memories and experiences. So you plan your route, and petition your parents for the £.
You get driven to the airport by your folks and they hand you the *around the world ticket* and your passport. They know you so well, you’d probably have left them at home. Then they take a goodbye picture, *our little Holly/Jake about to see the world*, even though they’ve taken you around it three times on various holidays during your childhood… but this time it’s different. This time it’s just you… and their wallets.
You take your first trip to New York, because - well, that’s another part of the world right, and all of the TV shows that you grew up with were filmed there. Yellow Taxi into Manhattan. So cool, you walk around Central Park, try to find Central Perk, go to Macy’s… snapping all the way.
Next step, California, LA to be exact, for Hollywood… as above, but for films, celebrities, the star-walk. Photographing every step along the boulevard.
Then a trip down to South America to visit… Peru & Machu Picchu. You get a tour guide to take you up to the top. You pose for a photograph. Visit done. Now back to the hotel. Taxi to the airport.
Flight to Australia. It’s like a sunny version of England, with even more white people. Visit the big red rock that you still call Ayers Rock. Take a photograph. Hang out in hostels, drink with other students - lots of photographs.
Now for some real travelling, a trip to Thailand. You visit the tiger sanctuary, because all of your friends have photographs of themselves petting chained up animals. You get the same photograph. Off you go to the beach, and the clubs. The nightclubs. The drink. The photographs. A boat trip, on a boat filled with others like you, but slightly different. Different enough to be interesting, but same enough for you to never really leave your moneyed comfort zone.
Landing in Kenya, you head to the Giraffe hotel. Chauffeured all the way, by people whose names you never bothered to remember. A few nights in a nature reserve, to give you the true African Experience. Photographs of long necks and long tongues stealing food from your plates. A short video to share online. Now back to the airport, ignoring everything you could see through the tinted windows of the vehicle carrying you and the other tourists.
Stop over. A quick trip around the airport shops, knick knacks collected, on-board for the penultimate destination. Boarding selfie.
Touchdown on a greek island, does it matter which? You’re not there for the history - and the only epic you want is a tune. Nightclubs, drink, photographs of the same, but different, people, all living their lives through collated experiences. Swim with dolphins, scuba, banana boat, more pictures. Soak up some sun. Spend more money collecting memories.
Dive into the water, surface. Don’t question the impact of your tourism.
On the plane home, you flick through images on your smartphone. Each one a memory only validated once you share it. Only worthwhile it if’s liked. Are you liked? Or is it the lifestyle you lead that people actually have an interest in. What happens when the money’s gone?
Now to university you go, not for the education - but for the lifestyle. Three, or maybe four years of nights out, selfies, staged enjoyment… and everyone is acting…