I was lucky enough recently to take a week-long vacation to Maui.
It was my first trip outside Canada in a few years, and my first to a warm, beach destination in many years.
I won’t wax on about the warm weather, sandy beaches, and poolside lounging (or, at least, as much “lounging” as a toddler will allow). Rather, I kept having one realization that’s relevant to Whistler: tourists really do kind of suck—but that includes me, you, and everyone else while they’re on vacation.
On our last full day, we decided to do a little hike through a lava field, winding along the coastline. As we walked from our vehicle to the trailhead, a man in a truck that was clearly not a rental slowed and rolled down his window.
“Where you guys from?” He asked, somewhat randomly.
“Canada,” we replied.
Ever the polite guy, my husband added, “Are you from here?”
“Nah,” the guy said. “I’m from Canada, too.”
The guy was clearly messing with us for his own mild amusement, but coming from a tourist destination I realized I kind of understood.
On a Sunday morning, the parking lot was already packed with rental cars, and he was driving around aimlessly seeking a spot for himself.
The day before, on a trip to the adorable surf town Paia, there had been next to no parking in the entire town.
How much does it suck to be a local who can’t enjoy their own very expensive backyard? Well, loaded with insight into that, I knew the answer: a lot, sometimes.
This winter, with epic backups on the Sea to Sky Highway every weekend, I’ve deliberately avoided travelling from Squamish up to Whistler on Saturday or Sunday for any reason whatsoever. It’s just not worth it, in my opinion.
All summer long I steer clear of any of the Squamish lakes unless it’s a weekday, too.
Do I resent it? Yeah, I actually really do much of the time, especially having watched tourism boom out of control over the last 10 and a half years living here.
But, here’s the thing: my short time as a tourist re-infused me with insight into the plight of the tourist, too.
It also really sucks to shell out a bunch of money, take vacation days, find dog sitters, make sure your work and bills and house are under control, only to arrive at a destination—maybe your only trip of the year or for many years—just to wait in lines, discover no parking, or have your dream itinerary otherwise dashed.
Yes, I realize this is the realm of the privileged, but it can also be the realm of the regular person who saved up money and is looking to spend a nice week or two with loved ones and escape the daily grind. (And, to be honest, I don’t even include many Sea-to-Skyers in this category, as we get to have a good time in our backyard on the regular.)
While I did have a great time in Hawaii, at every turn, I found myself thinking about the workers in the busy grocery store, the lifeguard over his megaphone shouting out instructions on how to not drown in gnarly waves, and the flustered restaurant servers.
Like us, they live in paradise, and that means paying the price of dealing with clueless tourists.
So, as we head into spring break, the tail end of winter, and what’s sure to be another busy summer ahead, let’s all remember that sometimes you’re the annoyed local, sometimes you’re the dumb tourist, but most of the time we’re all just doing our best to try and have a little fun.