Travel and the Stages of Gentrification

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Disclaimer, this is an utterly non-scientific, liquid-centric, take on the phases of the gentrification of a neighborhood. I am the problem. Without a doubt, I’m contributing to one of the most potent forces in nature. I’m talking about gentrification, of course. Whenever I’m planning a trip, I’m often looking for new trendy spots or up-and-coming neighborhoods. I want to be on the bleeding edge of cool. Through my many journeys, I realized that there are distinct phases of travel and gentrification with easy to spot signs. These principles can be associated with a city or a neighborhood within a city, the stages are no different. So, let’s begin.

Phase 1: Beer and Wine

The first and most innocuous of the three is the beer and wine phase. Likely, each city has a beer or wine culture firmly rooted in its history. Maybe it’s beer in Prague or wine in Paris. It’s probably cheap, utilitarian, and beloved by all who live there. If there are any red flags, perhaps it’s just a little too much appreciation of the local craft. Often, you’ll see some younger generations trying to connect with their roots through a new brewery or wine bar.

Phase 2: Coffee Shops

What does everyone need after a few too many pints or glasses of that delicious red? Coffee, of course. Walking through the streets, you’ll probably start to see some coffee shops popping up here and there using words like “single origin.” Or maybe you’ll notice some reclaimed wood benches outside. Eventually, though, that smell of freshly roasted heaven will break you. But when that tatted up, beanie-wearing barista hands you that cup of coffee, you’ll just ask yourself, “how the fuck do they make it so good?”

Phase 3: Craft Cocktails

And finally, the coup de grâce: craft cocktails. Once you reach this phase, your city and or neighborhood is likely fucked, and there’s no going back. Luckily though, this may be the most apparent trend to spot. The harbinger of this stage will be too much waxed-canvas or mustache wax or really wax of any sort, circling your neighborhood. You’ll start passing bars with hipster-ass names made up of random nouns separated by an ampersand, like “Wood & Sparrow,” to create a hipster logo. And then you’ll pass another bar nearly identical to the first. And then another. When you see this, fly, you fools.

So, there you have it. Yes, this is mostly satire, but it is essential to understand your place in a city as a tourist. Don’t get me wrong, many good things come with tourism and the money it injects in cities and countries. But that’s not without its drawbacks as well. Travel and gentrification are inextricably linked, and I hope to be a better steward of the places we adventure.

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