Michael Strickland's blog on all things travel: news, deals, destinations, dreams and more.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Sometimes a picture is worth only a few words

As I was paging through Scuba Diving magazine, an ad for Mexico caught my eye. It showed two people strolling along a beach underneath the distinctive arch in Cabo San Lucas, much like the photo pictured below. Such a picture is possible only once or twice a year, during an extreme low tide. The rest of the year, it looks like this.

This got me thinking generally about misleading travel photos. How many times have you been awed by glossy tourism shots of a destination, only to find the real thing is not the same? Sometimes, it's an image showing a place in a state you're not likely to see it—such as the Cabo shot mentioned above, for example, or a scenic panorama of the Forum in Rome without a single person to be seen.

Other times, it's the things a picture can't reveal, such as a shot of a pristine beach, which you find is infested with sand fleas or near a smelly storm drain outflow. Or a photo showing a relaxing hammock strung between two palm trees at a resort, which turns out to be located next to a noisy construction site.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not suggesting that you should distrust every travel photo you see, or complain to management when reality fails to meet your expectations. Quite the opposite. Instead of letting such photos set your expectations, use these photos for what they are: fuel for your imagination, inspiration for making plans, building blocks for realizing your travel dreams.

And when you get to your destination and things don't quite match up with those glossy tourism photos, enjoy what you're experiencing instead of missing what you expected. In my case, there was no beach at Land's End, so I swam through the arch instead of walking—which was much more exciting.




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