On the Road, Travel Stories

Why STA and their Tours Suck

Why STA and consumer travel sucks.

I bought a discount student ticket once and now I can’t get away from STA’s spam mailing. Besides tickets I guess they make money selling tours for thousands of dollars to rich American college kids.

Here’s an excerpt from their latest round of crapola:

Just picture this: You’re riding around Cambodia on the back of a local’s moped, giving high fives to native children who are so excited to see you. You’re hearing about the history of the Khmer Killing Fields from someone who survived, but whose family did not. You’ve just jumped to the front of the line in Venice for the gondolas with all of your friends, experiencing firsthand a priceless interaction between the gondoliers. You’re dining in an authentic Italian restaurant filled with locals, not tourists, completely off the beaten path. This isn’t backpacking. This is a tour.

I almost vomited reading this. To too many people travel is just about crossing off the highlights of a place listed on the first page of the Lonely Planet and this kind of selling feeds off of that. Riding a moped in Cambodia, check. High fives to native children, check. History of Khmer Rouge from someone authentic, check.

How in the world can you offer truly authentic experiences as part of a package deal?

How when your tour group is ‘dining in a restaurant filled with locals’ is the restaurant still filled with locals? Does your 25 person tour not count? WTF!

Please, please university kids don’t buy into this crap. When you go to travel, just buy a ticket to a country that you’ve read about and sounds interesting. On your own you’ll find way more ‘authenticity’ than you ever would have on a tour. Plus you’ll have a couple thousand extra bucks to spend while you’re at it.

If you think Road Junky is being unfair and you disagree, we’d love to hear about how a tour changed your life.