The 2010s were the decade when travel became easier. The arrival of short-term lodging services, the embrace of “second cities,” and the rapid growth of budget airlines both shrunk our globe and made it more intriguing. And the siren song of social media sent us to far-flung corners in search of “authentic,” “local,” and “undiscovered” places, or (contrarily) to recreate influencers’ brilliant snaps.
But if travel became something of a competitive sport in the last 10 years, it’s starting to loosen up. As it turns out, trying to visit every country in the world before turning age 40—or simply checking off three bucket-list cities in a weeklong trip—is exhausting. The overwhelming number of booking channels and sources of inspiration has left travelers confused, too, struggling to figure out how to maximize every minute of their precious vacation days.