Maybe Consider Not Traveling to Europe This Summer

Instead, go literally anywhere else

Tourists crowding the Archaeological Park of Pompeii.
Tourists crowding the Archaeological Park of Pompeii

Traveling to Europe is a rite of passage — a return to the motherland for many, and merely a mark of personal accomplishment for others. Thus, destinations like Barcelona, Rome and Paris, to name a few, have come to exist under a near-constant blanket of tourists. This is the case now more than ever. Per a new report from CNN, the number of Americans traveling to Europe this summer is expected to increase by 55% over last year. That number is significant in its own right, but even more since last year’s number was 600% higher than in 2021.

It’s made summer travel to the continent damn near unbearable. Last year, following a trip to Positano, Rebecca Jennings from Vox said of the crowds, “Like seemingly everywhere else in Italy, they are rampant and inescapable and at times contribute to a sense of claustrophobic doom so great that the only way out is divorcing yourself from your body and disassociating until you finally reach open air.”

Still, it won’t deter everyone from making the pilgrimage to Italy’s famed coasts this year. In fact, thanks largely to the second season of HBO’s The White Lotus, searches for flights to cities in Sicily have skyrocketed this summer, with searches to Messina and Palermo up by 335% and 180%, respectively. One traveler told CNN that Palermo was already “absolutely insane” and that people were “spilling onto the street like it was Mardi Gras.”

But that’s hardly unique to Italy. Cities in Spain, France, Ireland, Greece, Iceland, the Netherlands and Portugal are also exploding with unprecedented numbers. People are lining up at landmarks and popular attractions everywhere, and hotels are at full occupancy. And, even worse, are you traveling on a tight budget? Not to Europe you aren’t. Roundtrip tickets to the continent are currently averaging more than $1,200, up $300 from this time in 2022.

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Now, listen, I love Europe. I love the history, the food, the proximity of one great city to the next. But I also can’t think of anywhere I’d less like to be than Europe in the summer (with the exception of a place like Andorra, which has considerably less mass appeal). I was in Rome for a work trip last July, and,while it is without question one of the greatest cities on Earth, the throngs of tourists were debilitating. You couldn’t get within feet of the Trevi Fountain, where they stand in ranks like an infantry battalion. A few months later in Croatia, I was met with much of the same.

Some will argue that the uptick in tourism is a good thing, particularly coming out of the pandemic. Good for small businesses, good for the economies on the whole. It’s all true to an extent. But you can’t have that conversation without also acknowledging that many of these ancient cities — Venice for example — lack the infrastructure to support such an increase. Any increase that crosses the threshold into overtourism is an objectively bad thing.

There are six other continents and 150 other countries in the world outside of Europe, the vast majority of them no less deserving of a visit this summer. For my part, I just snagged a roundtrip flight to Guatemala for $300. In 2022, Guatemala welcomed 1.8 million tourists all year long. It’s not a perfect comparison, I realize, as Italy is almost three times bigger than Guatemala, but Italy recorded 50.5 million arrivals last year.

All of this is to say: Consider going somewhere else this summer. Literally, anywhere else.


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