There is something in the travel blogosphere that drives me absolutely mental. I tend to avoid reading many other travel blogs for precisely this reason that makes my skin crawl, and induces a great need to projectile vomit on the authors.
Okay, who on earth are travel blogs aimed at? It seems to me that, with the exception of quality content on topics that are difficult to locate elsewhere, such as in depth info on hitchhiking in Myanmar, or obtaining visas for the Stans, travel blogs aren’t aimed at travelers. No, the content is geared at those sitting in their cubicles, dreaming of the escape they’re perfectly able to obtain this very second, but never will. They’d rather look at pretty pictures of the beach, and dream about how absolutely perfect their lives would be if only they were ON THAT BEACH, than actually get to said beach.
And as they read these marvelous stories they are filled with a sense of joy, of wonderment, of friendly jealousy towards those who manage to live this life. They see a world filled with opportunities, excitement, and sheer happiness – a happiness they can’t obtain because they’re stuck in both the physical and figurative cubicle.
Here’s the thing: it’s all a load of bullshit. All of these blogs that are so inspiring to you, that make you crave travel, that make you dream of the “better life”, it’s all a big fat lie.
Don’t get me wrong, I love my life, and I wouldn’t turn back if you offered me a million dollars. Really. But my life isn’t always happy. My life isn’t always exciting. Some days my life really fucking sucks. Sometimes those days string together into months.
Travel bloggers like to claim that traveling solo is positively amazing, and that you’re never truly alone. Okay, give me a break, guys. Sometimes you really are completely and utterly alone. At times it’s due to circumstance; when I’m hitchhiking I meet people for an hour, and then our bond is over. Forever. Gone. I hop in the next car, and we start again. Then, as the sun begins to go down, I hide somewhere nowhere can find me to camp.
I get lonely as hell. And I’m here to tell you that one hour car rides very rarely provide you with a feeling of anything more than being totally alone.
Okay, fine, but what about people staying in hostels? There are always people to befriend at hostels! You poor naïve saps. I used to think this was totally true, until I spent the better part of three years interacting with these hostel characters. At first I was patient; I’d chat with everyone in my previous state of utter extroverted madness. I would weed through the idiots and find the good ones, though my threshold for stupidity has certainly diminished over time. The thing is that those I actually connect with are few and far between, and I just don’t have the patience to spend every day attempting to look for them. And I feel far more alone among people I have zero connection with than by myself.
Take what these travel bloggers write about with a grain of salt. That time they did a several day trek? Their feet were so blistered and bleeding tears came to their eyes at every step. That magical story of love on the road? Someone got their heart shattered. That gorgeous photo you’ve set as your desktop pic? They spent fifteen hours on a cramped and sweaty bus, bored out of their minds before getting that photo. That deliciously exotic meal they got for pennies? They were hugging the toilet bowl for two days afterwards.
Sometimes they’re miserable. Other times they feel a type of loneliness that you can’t even begin to comprehend. They’re often sick. At times they are terrified. They get frustrated and confused. Some suffer anxiety, depression, and countless other mental issues just like everyone else does. In short, they feel the whole range of human emotions, rather than the tiny percentage of sentiments that induce your envy of their lives.
So if you see a photo of me lying in my hammock, happy as can be in the best office in the world, know the reality of it. In truth, I’m sweating my ass off, it’s too hot out to go get food and my belly grumbles all fucking afternoon, and I haven’t spoken to another human being other than those who run my hostel in weeks. I have no friends even slightly close to where I am, and I sit around watching Netflix all evening, every evening. I smoke weed to turn off my brain after working because it’s the only way I can without human interaction, and it makes me anxiously dash to town at supper time, snatch up my food, and retreat back to my hut. I’m not unhappy, but I’m certainly not in that land of utter glee that travel bloggers like you to think they permanently live in. I’m at a steady medium.
Let’s face the truth here: most travel bloggers are more so bloggers and less so travelers. Do you have any idea how much work it takes to create a successful, popular blog? Sure, if I worked on this site for 60 hours a week for months on end, strangers would probably know my name. Most of the big names out there are not on the road permanently, they just don’t tell you when they’re at home working their asses off to make their blogs big. Why would you read that crap? You wouldn’t. You don’t want to know who they really are. You want only the fantastic tales of triumph. You want to imagine this paradise world in which your life is utter perfection, and in your mind it happens on that perfect white sand beach (which, by the way, is actually filled with a shit ton of other people, and a bit of garbage, but the travel blogger managed to capture it at just the right moment so that it looks isolated and serene).
There is no perfect life. There is no perfect place. There is no perfect person.
There is only different.
So stop craving the life that any of these people lead, because the life you think they have is an unobtainable fiction. Your life rocks as much as mine does. Your life sucks as much as mine does. We just rock and suck in completely different ways.
Fortunately, there are some bloggers out there that tell it like it is. Check out Freeborn Aiden’s article on Atrocity Tourism.