Actually, we know better. We dream of lonely beaches and undiscovered sights, explore adventurous hiking trails in the mountains in our imaginations, stroll leisurely through the streets of an Italian port town and enjoy the dolce vita in peace and quiet. And then we actually go on vacation – and are mainly busy pushing our way past other people. At the hotel buffet, on the beach, in the old town and in front of the attraction that we had been looking forward to for weeks. We just wanted a little break in the sun. But thousands of others want that too…

Anyone who has experienced it first hand knows: mass tourism is no fun. There are hardly any lonely beaches in popular holiday countries such as Italy, Spain or Greece; instead, a beach holiday is more like an involuntary cuddle party in the sand – including a race for the free beach chairs. The dream of a relaxing break by the sea at a bargain price is increasingly becoming a reality. Especially when we choose travel destinations that offer cheap package holidays in hotel castles. But the price still often decides where our next trip goes.

However, the locals at many travel destinations are slowly starting to get fed up – they are no longer interested in tourists taking over their home every year and they are just supporting actors in the center of their lives. So they protest against tourists and increase taxes and fees for overnight stays. And we? We still travel there – preferably in the high season. Always with the hope that there will perhaps be a little less competition for the best place by the sea this year. However, the current figures show that our favorite holiday destinations will likely become even more crowded in the future.

But collectively avoiding crowded places cannot be the solution. Aside from all the protests, the local people are partly dependent on tourism. So there needs to be a middle ground. That means: your heart beats for Mallorca, then the next trip goes there again. And if that’s only possible in summer, then so be it. There are many reasons why mass tourism is such a persistent phenomenon of our time – limited vacation times, budgets and uniform travel destination preferences are just a few of them. But the truth is that it annoys us all – and it’s up to us to improve the conditions for everyone involved.

A more respectful and attentive treatment of the people who make the travel destinations of our dreams the places that are even worth visiting is therefore the minimum. This also means that we don’t leave our manners at home, but that we remember when we’re on vacation that you clean up your trash, a smile doesn’t cost anything, and a crop top and hot pants might not be the best fashion choice for visiting a religious building.

And don’t get me wrong: we should definitely keep traveling to Italy, Spain and Greece. It would be a shame if we left these great countries off our bucket list. But perhaps it’s worth it if we broaden our horizons – both in the temporal and local context. Traveling to tourism hotspots in the off-season might even give us a chance to actually experience the sights, rather than crowding into the place that looks the most empty for a selfie. And the world is big, there are still many travel destinations that are not overcrowded. If you think outside the box, you may discover your new dream travel destination in a place where you would never have expected it – perhaps in Albania, Montenegro – or just around the corner in Germany.

Most of us probably don’t enjoy visiting the Pantheon or the dream beach and only being able to imagine what it might look like without the crowds of other tourists. Vacation shouldn’t mean crowds or noise pollution. It’s much more fun to discover the world in peace, to really get to know the local people and find out something about them and their culture, rather than just dully taking part in the mass migration from one photo spot to the next in order to make the whole thing as idyllic as possible Stage social media. So let’s at least travel a little more consciously in the future. Because let’s be honest: we actually know better.