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Why Travel TV Shows Suck

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Conde Nast Traveler
Conde Nast Traveler

I love travel.

I love dreaming about travel. I love planning for travel. I love maps and seeing all the different places I can go. I love movement and the anticipation of what's next. I've tried to make a life out of this love.

But I hate travel shows.

I hate the boppy hosts. I hate the fabricated situations. I hate the idea that travel is about stuffing as much food in your mouth as possible. I hate the fake tension and the stunted story lines.

My hatred for travel shows stems from one source: the fact that what I saw on television never mirrored my own experience. Travel shows are made for vicarious living -- to experience a place, a culture and a populace that you may not otherwise be able to visit and see for yourself. And when that vicarious living turns out to be empty, a hollow manifestation of what the locale actually looks and feels like, then disillusionment towards these productions quickly follows.

I understand that travel shows are made for entertainment. They are made to excite and inspire. I completely support this goal, but not when it sacrifices authenticity and truth for sensationalism and tension. Call it the Eat. Pray. Love. effect. Travel will change you. It will open your mind to possibilities, cultures and lifestyles that you never imagined. But it's not all roses and butterflies. It's not all rainbows and Lucky Charms (yum). You may not find love. You may not have an inner awakening. You may have to shit in a bucket on the side of the street while your bus starts pulling away down the dirt road (hey, it happens). But you will grow due to the people you meet (and not just Italian romances) -- and, ultimately, that is what makes travel special and potentially life-changing

Travel shows have not been able to tell this story well. The story of the people you meet and how they live their lives in their own cultures and countries. I cofounded Humanity.TV because I wanted to bring these stories to life -- to change travel content from the boppy hosts of the past to more authentic experiences.

Humanity.TV is short-documentary series that tells authentic stories of locals all over the world. We interview locals about their culture, their life and their country, giving viewers an in-depth look into the lives of people from every corner of the globe -- from an elephant sanctuary founder in Northern Thailand to a hip-hop DJ in Japan.

I believe that a new age of travel shows is approaching. More and more viewers are watching their favorite shows online or are looking to independent producers for their travel video fix. Just look at the amazing travel offerings on creative video sites like Vimeo to get a taste of what's out there.

There is a new age of travel shows fast approaching, especially in these two areas:

1. More short form videos made for emerging mediums -- namely, tablets and smartphones. Just like receiving their favorite magazine, travelers want to immerse themselves in the travel experience, and tablets have the power to not only showcase beautiful HD travel shows, but also harness the power of interactive videos, maps and editorial, giving the viewer a more immersive experience into the lives of others.

2. A move towards more authentic, local travel content. Less about the best luxury resorts and high-end restaurants (totally fine if that's what you're after) and more about the experiences that make travel special: the people you meet, the culture you surround yourself with and the experiences you have. At Humanity.TV, we want to put the power of storytelling into the hands of the locals, giving them the power over the message so they can dictate what makes their culture, cities and lives unique and fascinating.

The new movement of authenticity and short-form video has arrived in travel. We hope you'll not only join us in our quest to revolutionize travel shows, but set off on your own to do the same. You've already got some allies.

Kerrin is the cofounder of Humanity.TV, a documentary series focused on fascinating locals all over the world. They want to bring authentic, local travel back into travel shows.