Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Before I struck out on my own, I was travel-blog obsessed.
I was also very self-loathing. Come to your own conclusions.
I’d spend hours, trolling The Blonde Abroad, Nomadic Matt, Girl v Globe, Alex in Wanderland and dozens of Instagramer, trying to fill myself with enough travel envy so I could distill that envy into raw nerve.
Once I started traveling, I’d comb through these blogs for places to go and pictures I needed to take. They touted the Best 8 Things to Do in Rio and 5 Things You Have to do in Munich. As a habitual list maker, I was all about their to do lists and set out to accomplish everything. Was I getting the full experience if I didn’t?
I tried to start my own blog-life, trying to decided what the best and must do things were. I wanted my life to be blog-ready and my person for be Instagram-perfect, and everything sucked.
This is not a unique issue to me. Everyone struggles with the gap between what we read online and what we witness happening in our lives. I’m sure the travel-expectations are nothing compared to the pressure Mommy-Bloggers can digitally put upon new parents.
So I made a decision that I recommend everyone copies: I unfollowed all those accounts and stopped trying to plan my life to look like someone else’s. It took a lot of work, and I went dark online for awhile (I still go dark sometime, just to enjoy the silence).
Now that I’m on the other side of my toxic way of thinking, here is my opinion of travel blogs:
- They are unrealistic. Everyone remember that. Put a post-it-note on your screen to remind yourself while you surf. Delightful though they be, they are illusions that don’t highlight the times the blogger wasn’t the best version of themselves. For better or worse, they try to make it look easy. But it’s not.
- The superlative language is click-bait, so don’t buy into it. 17 things you have to do? Fuck that. If you go to Bali and just want to sit on the beach for a week and eat tacos from the same food cart every day, you do you, honey. Don’t let anyone else’s trip or travel experience have any kind of bearing on you. Life is not graded on a curve, so it does not matter how everyone else is doing.
- You think that girl’s outfit is cute? It is, I 100% agree. But just remember it costs about $40 to check every bag.
- These travel bloggers are amazing. They put together some great content; it’s the reason we all just memorized by their lifestyle. But don’t forget that they are human, too. They fart. Yeah, they do. They accidentally stay up until 4am binge watching Netflix. They fight with their mothers, their best friends, and with people at the airport. What you see online is their best selves, their most edited selves. And that is fine; it’s good business, but just don’t compared their best-selves to your true-self. They need just as much therapy, filtering and coffee as you do. Don’t worry!
I probably sound bitter as hell, but I’m not. Maybe it’s turning 30, but I finally live in the headspace that doesn’t need to compare itself to others (well, doesn’t need to as much). I’m tired to bullying myself into perfection, or measuring myself with someone else tape. What I need in my life is gratitude, and the precursor to gratitude is acceptance. Just as you can’t be grateful for food until you’ve taken it, we can’t be grateful for life until we accept our life as it is.
My blog isn’t going to have fancy design or amazing images, and it’s not going to be a one-stop-shop for all your travel needs. This blog is just going to be me, embracing the world I reside in and sharing that with anyone who cares to read it when they are bored. I will accept my life as it is and do my best to show you the less-flattering side of travel and of myself. The world is not scary and it’s not a well-lighted photography set. It’s somewhere in between. Like I am. Like you are. Like everything else. And that space in between is pretty damn beautiful. Have we forgotten that in the technological age?