Second hand tourism and the rise of the selfie stick

SelfieOn a recent trip to Venice I noticed the staggering number of people using selfie sticks. These had become the top choice of must-buy Venice kitsch. Say no to plastic carnival masks or gondoliers’ hats and spend your hard-earned holiday money on an old car aerial with a clamp at the end.

As a keen photographer, I’m only too aware of the dangers of experiencing new places through the viewfinder and seeing the world in terms of exposure and composition rather than simply being there. But selfies mean that you don’t even look at the Grand Canal, Grand Canyon or Renaissance cathedral directly, you experience it with your back to the view you traveled all that way to see.

This led me to wonder of there was a new form of tour company that catered for people who wanted to go to a county but have second-hand experiences.

Welcome to Vicarious Tours. “We have the experience, so you don’t have to”

Vicarious Tours will be founded on the principal that getting to the place is tiring enough but having to actually listen to the concert, get up at sunrise or queue for the art gallery is actually a waste of your valuable time. So we’ll do it for you.

Here are some of the tour option.

Culture Vulture: You want to impress the folks back home that you actually saw all that art and culture rubbish, but need proof. We will lovingly Photoshop you into shots featuring the top three museums and against at least one world-class painting. In the evening we will attend a concert for you (please state preference classical/religious/ethnic) and take six minutes of shaky hand-held video on a camera phone. If you buy Culture Vulture Plus we’ll even write a Facebook post for you explaining what was played at the concert and how moving/crazy/magical/awesome it was (please state preference).

Food Lover: Let’s be frank most of the food abroad just isn’t McDonalds. In France they eat offal, in Japan poisonous fish and you don’t even want to think about rural Chinese food. So why not let Vicarious Tours have dinner for you. We’ll go to all of those restaurants the local visit and order the most weird and disgusting food imaginable and then photograph our plates. You can then tell your friends that you ate sweetbreads, Fugu and chicken embryo and have the shots to prove it. For our premium customers we’ll post on Instagram with a suitable caption. (No vegetarian option)


Vinophile Delux: As it’s a sunny day you’d rather to be sitting in a cafe having a beer but everyone says the wine here is great. So do you spend the afternoon in a cellar sipping indifferent wine? Why not let us do the tedious tasting for you. We’ll take various blurred shots of wine labels and even put two bottles of undrinkable local plonk in your suitcase to take home and bore your friends with.

Lazy Boy Special: You’re on a cruise and arrive in a port at 6am. Do you really want to get up, disembark, get on a coach with similarly jaded,fellow shipmates only to be carted off to a series of whistle stop photo opportunities at the local ruins. Of course you don’t. You can have a lie-in, gorge yourself once again on the lunchtime buffet and have a well earned afternoon nap knowing that the crack team from Vicarious Tours is doing all the hard work. We’ll take the tour for you and upload pictures to your phone (password required). Package includes  a set of ten images of you and your partner lovingly Photoshopped into the most popular sites. It’s just like being there!

So there we have it. Vicarious Tours will make even the selfie sick redundant and I can get back to looking at the world through my viewfinder.


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