The older I get, the slower I find myself traveling. No longer do I wish to spend 24 hours anywhere. It’s just not long enough to enjoy much, besides a good meal. I find most “instagram-worthy” spots are usually over-hyped and packed with people that visit only for a photo so others will know they were there. (*yawn*) I’ve even taken a step back from my own blog to figure out what exactly I’ve been promoting. “Travel” has changed a lot for me these past few years. I found it hard to write about the last 8 countries I’ve visited. Away We Stray has a grand total of 0 articles written about Italy, Andorra, Spain, or Peru, and only 1 about my time in Colombia. Every time I sat down to write about the things I did and the places I visited, I cringed and avoided it. Over 9 months of travel, I’ve written 5 articles….mostly about programming. Doesn’t that speak for itself? My most recent trip to Bali, Indonesia solidified my resignation as a travel blogger. My travel blog focus has changed.
***Note: This article does not apply to all bloggers and travel bloggers. This is a generalization post regarding the trends I see in the industry and my own experience***
My Resignation Letter
Dear Friends, followers, and community worldwide;
I’m finished with travel blogging.
Travel Blogging is Inauthentic
The Travel Blog community is often shallow and self-serving. There are thousands of blogs that follow the same itinerary, offer the same tips, destinations, and photo-ops. I don’t want to regurgitate an article thats been written 50 times before, with varying levels of skill or grammatical issues. I’m sick of seeing the same generic white girl doing her makeup and taking a second outfit from her bag for her over-edited photos at a pretty location. It’s so fake. To Ms. Travel-wander-vagabond: You are inauthentic, and misleading. You are the reason I’m choosing to leave this community.
My instagram feed is full of the same perfected shots: the back of a woman’s head with a ‘wanderlust’ hat, a bikini bod without an accompanying face, etc etc. These photos often have thousands of likes, real or not, that play into the facade. Ms. Generic-travelblogger-with-an-equally-generic-name: You did not wear that to hike. You spent the entirety of your hike to the waterfall on your phone snap-chatting everything, changed, took all your photos, then left. Ugh. So frustrating.
Travel Blogging is Unoriginal
Choose any country or city in the world, and I could vomit out a Top-10 listicle about the location. It’s overdone. It’s lazy writing. It’s unoriginal and its boring. Seriously, if you google “Top 10 Barcelona”, how many renditions of the same article are you going to find? (I’ll give you a hint…the first 4 pages of google are travel blog articles with this title) The industry has trended this way because that shallow bullshit is what readers want, I guess. I’ve made the decision that I don’t give a rats’ backside about anyone interested in listicles. Google it instead.
Travel blogging has become so lazy. There are so few blogs that I follow that are worth something. Every time I click through a Pinterest travel-related thread, I see beautiful photos linking back to the same boring, generic content. Which is probably why I haven’t been able to write very much the past year. (I mean, sure, I’ve gone down another path and became a digital nomad another way, but I still have a passion for the written word!) I didn’t know what I needed to do, but my Travel Blog wasn’t resonating with me anymore. It wasn’t me.
Travel Bloggers Lie
I’ve seen so many articles where the author self-proclaims to be an expert despite having spent just a few days in an area. How can he/she know where “the best” noodle shops are, if they only ate at one of them? Spoiler Alert: You can’t. They aren’t telling the truth. They are giving you exactly what they did in 48 hours, potentially copied from a previous author, who may or may not have had time to do their research.
In this hyper-competitive market, a lot of bloggers with review whatever they can get their hands on. Which means that amazing hand lotion/cafe/backpack they are reviewing…was sponsored (i.e. money or free shit for the author) and potentially not as great as they said it was. That blogger is writing a review, a marketing campaign, for these products/services. Its hard to be 100% genuine when you are moonlighting as a sales person. I can guarantee a lot of sponsored posts are exaggerated. My instagram inbox and email account are both filled with companies offering me things in exchange for publicity.
You don’t even have to go to a location to write about it. Travel Bloggers….a.k.a People That Blog About Their Travels…are literally promoting things and places they’ve never travelled to. Let that sink in.
Here’s an inconvenient truth: airplanes are bad for the environment. Cruises are TERRIBLE for the ocean and for plastic consumption. The travel industry is causing a large negative environmental impact and ruining the places we are seeking to visit.
Need further evidence? The Philippines shut down the island of Borocay because of environmental damage. There is literally too much human poo going into the waters. EEW.
How Travel Blogger Hurt People
The wandering blonde/brunette/redhead/vagabond/traveler/wanderer/” blogs show how “cheap” or “unique” locations are, all while ignoring, or more likely, being ignorant of the socio-political situations that the locals live in. These shallow articles hurt people.
I don’t see many blogs talk about the problems and struggles of the areas they visit, and the issues that tourists cause in the community. I guess that doesn’t make for a gorgeous Instagram photo. I’m sick of seeing the same photos all over social media, proclaiming how “amazing” each place is. Yes, travel is addicting and awesome, but I’m skeptical of the social value that travel blogging provides, and frankly, a bit cynical of the value of travel itself lately.
Its time we travel bloggers take account for the damage we cause (and caused). By ignoring or being ignorant of social-climate in the places we travel to, we hurt our readers by not telling the whole truth. We can change this by speaking with locals and community members and learning about their struggles, their aspirations for their community. Without doing so, we hurt those communities. We ignore their stories, and only share a bland, white-washed version…our truth needs to become part of their truth: the whole truth. When we share the entire story, tourists can begin to make more informed decisions about their vacations: like not riding an elephant, visiting an “orphanage” or spending thousands of dollars to build a house that could have been done by someone in the community.
Shallow Articles = Shallow Stereotypes
I’m tired of travel bloggers writing about their personal experiences of a destination without considering the bigger picture. Just because you didn’t get robbed at your resort in Cartegena doesn’t mean that it’s going to be completely safe for everyone. This also means that just because touristy Cartegena is safe, the rest of Colombia is exempt. Just because you were harassed in Flores, Indonesia doesn’t mean it’s a bad place to visit. Perhaps you were just ignoring the customs/religious events happening in that particular moment. For example: I saw many foreign women walking around in bikinis from beaches into town in the Gili Islands….during Ramadan. This leads me to another point:
Shallow Cultural Understanding = Lack of Respect
When did it become so normal to disrespect the cultural norms/religious rules/archeological integrity of an area? Here’s a list of articles where bloggers (of all types) do just that:
- Sitting on ancient artifacts and bragging about there being no one to yell at him for doing so
- An entire FB page dedicated to getting naked around the world…
- Travel Vloggers repeatedly hurting nature at YellowStone National Park
- Jake Paul shows Japanese Suicide on camera
- Blogger photoshoot at Holocaust Memorial
I could continue, but I think you get the point. It’s not just travel bloggers, but we have a large role in this issue. And other issue at hand:
Travel Blogging Ignores Diversity
WHY is it that most travel bloggers are white? (Myself included) Where is the diversity in the crowd? Our experiences as white folks will be completely different from LGBTQIA folx. Did you talk to a traveler that wears a hijab? Did she feel safe? What about the local queer community? Are they safe or are they vulnerable?
Why are these narratives not as prevalent? We need to open our eyes to the stories of disabled travelers, non-cis travelers, Muslim and POC travelers.
I Refuse To Be Part Of The Problem Anymore
I’m fed-up. Finished. Through with the Travel Blog Community. This is my resignation letter. I don’t want to be a part of the shallow, listicle-creating regurgitated-article travel blog community. I don’t want to write inauthentic marketing posts for companies. I don’t want to be a part of a community that has perpetuated this idea of a “perfect life”. It’s not good for anyones’ self esteem…..My travel blog focus needs to change. I already have.
The Future of Away We Stray
What is going to happen to Away We Stray?
I have been pretty silent on this platform for the better part of this year because I wasn’t sure what exactly I wanted. I’m aiming for something more. I want there to be purpose in my writing beyond helping another privileged traveler find their next destination.
I’m Redefining my Purpose
So I’m redefining my purpose. I no longer want to write about what to do in/around a destination. You can google that. I never want to write another listicle again.
I notice when I travel that there are things I can do to improve the community. The longer I spend in a new place, the more I see there are things I can do as a tourist to improve the lives of community members. There are ways I can support education, small businesses, recycling practices, the health of wildlife, and even the beauty of the environment.
I want to write about which companies you should support that are making headway for their community.
I want to write about which companies have anti-plastic initiatives, and which don’t. (…and thats why you should choose to spend your money at one bar/restaurant over another)
I want to write about how you can reduce your carbon footprint while traveling.
I want to write about how to find cheap, healthy vegan food, or how to make it with limited supplies.
I want to write about how to change your lifestyle to support a healthy environment.
I want to write about sustainable fashion choices.
I want to write about sustainable travel practices and how to implement them.
I want to write about things that I learn from local community members and how it impacted my view of the area.
I want to write about beautiful nature and where to find it.
I want to help women travel, and I want to inspire people to live a more ethical, sustainable life for us all.
Away We Stray Travel Blog Focus
- How to Alter Your Environmental Impact (Vegan Travel and Sustainable Travel)
- Socio-Political Conversations (Travel Education)
- Sustainable Lifestyle Advice….and Sustainable Travel Advice (Sustainable Travel)
- How You Can Help Local Communities (Responsible Travel)
- My Adventures Abroad (Adventure Travel- DIY Travel
So this is it, folks (and folx). The end of an era of being a #basic. From here on out, my Travel Blog is a Sustainable Travel Site, designed to help anyone I can reach make decisions that will positively impact communities at large and our home, Earth.