The Reality of Travel and Blogging

It’s time. More than time.

For months now, I’m ashamed to say it but, this space has fallen on the backburner. I started writing more for others than for myself, made some grown-up decisions about work, and shifted my priorities to make way for some new creative projects.

So much has changed since my last post, last fall (seriously its been way too long), but it’s not over. Far from it.

I’m going to continue blogging again–starting now, but it’s going to be different.

While there are still tons of amazing travel stories, photos and tips I’d love to share with the world, I’ve decided to change the direction of this blog a little bit.

 

travelreality8

Change is the essence of life. Be willing to surrender what you are for what you could become.

 

In the beginning, this blog was meant to serve two purposes: to share my travel experiences with the world, and to act as a record for when I’m a crinkly hunchback who can’t recall a thing beyond this morning’s breakfast.

I also wanted to write about work, creativity, millennial life, etc. which I know I haven’t touched on at all.

But when Essena O’Neill came out awhile back about quitting social media for good, it got me thinking. A lot.

It mostly got me thinking about real life, and how the people we see online, over the internet or on social media, are not who we’re seeing at all. There’s a backstory we’re not seeing. A backstory that could be filled with tragedy, loneliness, health concerns… the parts of our lives we don’t share with the world because it’s in our nature to hide our weaknesses and failures.

The reality of travel and blogging is no different because there’s so much more that goes on in that 10,984-liked Instagram shot, or the author of that popular “this is why you need to go to X, Y, and Z” blog post.

There’s so much pressure these days to be the best, look the best, strive for the best, to do whatever it takes to achieve the best.

And while it all looks glamourous and perfect online, sometimes it’s not.

Sometimes travel is ugly. Sometimes it sucks. Sometimes people blog to make money by promoting a company or product. Sometimes they come off as genuine posts, but it’s hard to always be 100% genuine, right?

And then sometimes, those of us who aren’t travelling all the time, come down with a bad case of the FOMOs because we get this unrealistic glimpse of what someone is experiencing since all we see are sunshine and rainbows.

 

travelreality1

One of life’s great pleasures is doing what people say you cannot do.

 

Travel is tiring, expensive, uncomfortable, and we’ll likely come across some major douchebaggery that we can’t do much about. But will we recount those moments publicly? Unlikely, but maybe.

I recall a time that should have been perfect. It was my last day at Angkor Wat, and what better way to say goodbye than to watch the sunset over the Cambodian plains.

The reality is that I didn’t know there was going to be a thousand other people at Phnom Bakheng with the same idea. While I knew there were other less crowded and more preferred spots to watch the sunset, the tuk-tuk driver had the final say since he ended the day here.

Well, as I wandered around trying to find a space where I could graciously ask people if I could kneel down in front of them to get a shot or two, this mother came out of nowhere and told her teenage son to “hurry up and get in front of that Asian” among other choice words. Me being “that Asian” and barely five feet tall, this kid could stand behind me and still get a shot of the sunset. I could probably be jumping and it still wouldn’t have mattered.

Anyways, maybe she thought I didn’t speak English, or maybe she had a tough day and just wanted to leave. Either way, it still bugged me but I didn’t say anything because I was a little taken aback.

This is something I feel that’s often not talked about or seen in photos… disgruntled people, hordes of sweaty people, or the waves of Asian tourists from tour bus after tour bus.

While I always want to try to get the best shot possible, and enjoy the moment, let it be known that travelling = a ton of people everywhere, not just at popular attractions, but mostly. At the end of the day, you gotta be okay rubbing elbows and sharing soup splatter with the person next to you (literally and figuratively).

 

travelreality9

Attempting to reach the gate of Sensō-ji Temple (Asakusa, Tokyo) like everyone else. The gate, not even the temple yet.

 

So I guess the question is where, and how, do we draw the line between knowing what’s real or not online when it comes to travel.

Well, I think it’s by sharing the good, the bad, the boring, and the exciting–or simply, the full story.

When people are real, when they can relate, when they understand where you’re coming from, it’s easier to see the bigger picture, and trust what you have to say.

As much as I would absolutely love to travel full-time, I’m not. I’m even revising this post for the 30th time now, slouching in an over-sized office chair that has always been as uncomfortable as fuck.

But even though we all know people travel for so many different reasons, some people are comfortable staying right where they are. And some people simply can’t travel for all the reasons those perfect photos or blog posts are preaching, and that’s okay too. Not everyone has the desire to reach the summit of Mount Everest, or can afford to swim with mystical sea dragons.

But for those who’d like to, or think about it often, then that’s where I’m going to jump in and say that you can. Start small. Really small. Start in your own backyard, your own city, your own state or province, your own country, then any other country you can dream of.

 

Migrant Muse: Cesky Krumlov

Doors are always meant to be opened first before they are closed.

 

Travel is my muse. Travel fuels every other aspect of my life so I make it a priority, and I make it happen as often as possible. I may not be frolicking with baby penguins or trekking across the Gobi desert yet, but I’m carving my own path to see the world, one small trip at a time. In my own way, in my own time.

Because even if some people are crossing off countries more often than we’re crossing off our daily to-do lists, I believe we shouldn’t take travel for granted. When it has the power to change perspectives, our lives, we should savour each trip–not rush through a city, fire off a few selfies, buy some trinkets, and move on.

For me, travelling will always be a privilege, a gift full of memories I never want to forget.

So I never want travel to feel like a burden or a routine. I want to make sure it’s special. I want to get to know a place on a local level and remember what I experienced, which means spending more than a day there and venturing further than just the hotspots.

I want to collect life-changing moments. Not passport stamps, plane tickets, or souvenirs. Who’s with me?

 

Migrant Muse: Prague

Embrace uncertainty with open arms.

 

So now the question is, what can I blog about that will help or inspire other people? Well, I’m gonna try and be real. When I say I travel as much as possible, it usually means one big international trip a year for at least three weeks, taking advantage of long weekends for a mini trip out of town every-other-month or so, and going for day trips or weekend jaunts close to home.

In my opinion, it’s not a lot of travelling, but it’s a start. It’s a fine balance too with real life because in between, I have a day job and a side hustle, and every so often I have creative projects on the go.

Someday this may all change but for now, this is my day-to-day. FYI I’m also likely blogging months after I’ve returned from a trip (like this Portland blog post I‘ve had sitting in draft since October).

So even though I want to make this blog a priority this year, forgive me if real life gets in the way.

Maybe I’m just your average Jody as I can’t say I’m an expert in one place or topic (except for maybe my birth city), but I’m going to share my thoughts and experiences on this blog with the intent of looking back on all the memories, failures, or triumphs while also being a resource to other occasional travellers and creatives out there.

My hope is for these stories, words, or thoughts, to resonate or inspire you to make a change, to travel more, to start that creative project, or to say “yes” more often to whatever churns your stomach.

That’s my reality.

That’s my intended goal for this blog, for now.

 


What’s your reality when it comes to travelling, blogging, or life?

Migrant Muse

 

  • Sarah Blumenfeld

    I love that you are being honest, and you are right..life is not all smiles and the perfect pictures on the perfect beach. It’s sitting on a smelly bus, with smelly people too. Write about what makes you passionate about life. Just be you.

    • Thanks so much Sarah for you thoughts and wise words! I’ll take your advice in stride as you’re right too about writing what we’re passionate about–I think that’s really what matters the most 🙂

  • Christine Krzyszton

    Nice post; life is surely a trade off.

    • Hi Christine! Agreed, as much as we want it all in life, there’s always going to be a trade off. Thanks for stopping by 🙂

  • Great post. I’ve been blogging for 3 months and I have my ups and downs. I also work full time and study full time so travel has always been a trade off. But I persevere and have the same travel goals as you – one international trip per year, a couple weeks somewhere local(ish) and hopefully a weekend every now and then. Its fun, and tiring (and expensive!) but oh so worth it! Thank you for your honesty & Happy Travels, wherever and whenever they take you.

    • Thank you!! And wow, I can’t imagine taking on all of that full-time plus blogging/travelling. Major props to you for making it work 🙂 What international trip do you have planned this year?

      • I’m actually going on my biggest trip to date this year and will be away for 11 weeks all up. I’m going to Turkey for 2 weeks (for a friends wedding and then onto Istanbul) first then over to Africa on a 6 week overland safari from Zimbabwe through Botswana and Namibia, into South Africa and finishing in Jo’Burg. Then a week in Mauritius to rest (I think i’ll have earn’t if after overlanding for 6 weeks!) and up to London for 2 weeks for another wedding. I cannot tell you how excited I am about it all! What are your plans?

        • Ah, that sounds like an absolute dream! I haven’t been to any of those places yet but I’ve heard awesome things about Turkey, and Africa of course will be beyond amazing 🙂 My big trip this year is to New Zealand for three weeks in March. I’m excited to get to see both North and South islands but really have to start planning as it’s less than a month away!

  • I think everyone has those times when life gets in the way or we feel like we need a new direction. I’ve been blogging for a couple of years now, and still trying to find just the right niche. I still have so much to learn. Travel/life is a balancing act.

    • Hi Jenni! Thank you, I completely agree. It really is a balancing act. Things will always keep changing too as we continue to learn. I hope you find what you’re looking with your niche, and even though I’m in the same boat, I’m trying not to worry too much about it as I want to believe that the more we write and blog, the closer we’ll get to finding our audience. Good luck!

  • Brenda Gisselle Mejia

    Loved this post! People always think that the life of a blogger is just amazing, and is exactly -or even more harsh- than the life of any other worker. Liked that you were real!

    • Thanks for your comment Brenda! Glad you enjoyed the post and were able to relate. It can definitely be deceiving when bloggers only paint a pretty picture, or don’t delve deeper into who they are, their opinions, or what they’re really thinking. It’s scary being too honest sometimes, but I think it helps to be a little more honest than we should be 🙂

  • Cynthia

    Welcome back to blogging, Portia! I loved how honest this post was- all of this really rings true. I started blogging less than 2 months ago, but I’ve been feeling some similar dilemmas already… I look forward to reading more from you! 🙂

    • Thanks for connecting Cynthia! It feels great to get back into blogging and sharing stuff again 🙂 What dilemmas have you been facing?

  • Hi Portia. I couldn’t agree more – travel isn’t always sunshine and rainbows.
    I’ve learnt to avoid crowded, popular tourist destinations – I travel to the mountains all the time, it seems they still offer peace and tranquility (provided I don’t use cable car – the peaks which are accessible via lifts are usually crowded). Maybe you could try mountains? You won’t collect any passport stamps, plane tickets or souvenirs there 🙂

    • Hi Joanna! Thanks for stopping by. I love the mountains too, having grown up in the shadow of the Canadian Rockies 🙂 When I’m at home, that’s where I tend to travel to locally. I also enjoy exploring cities for it’s art and culture though so I try to balance my travels with both cities and nature. What are some of your best or favourite mountain spots?

      • Hello Portia 🙂
        I guess cities are also very interesting and (not only in travel) balance is everything. However, I find my balance in the mountains 🙂 I focus now on European mountains – I love Tatra range in southern Poland and Alps, of course. Have you considered travelling to European Alps someday? 🙂

        • Yes! I agree balance is everything 🙂 That sounds amazing exploring the mountain ranges in Europe. I would love to visit and ski the Swiss Alps someday. I was near the Julian Alps when I was in Slovenia for a couple of days, but didn’t have enough time to see them up close. Maybe next time!

  • Hi Portia! Lovely, lovely post. I had a bit of the same experience and revelation as you, when I was traveling for a year. That it may be more difficult to stay in the same place and build a community there than it is to ‘go go go’ and leave and travel. It’s hard to stay with yourself – and wherever you go, there you are.

    I also love the idea with the photos, wherever I go, I so badly want the right photo, so it makes it challenging and unrealistic sometimes.

    It’s good to meet you – great work here!
    xo
    Krista

    • Hey Krista! Thanks for connecting and glad you enjoyed the post. You’re so lucky you got to travel for a whole year! That’s something I really want to do soon too. I agree though–it’s difficult to build a community no matter where we are or how long we’ve been in one place. Times are changing I suppose with how interactive and online everything is these days, but it’s interesting that’s for sure!

  • Great post, Portia. It’s so easy to get caught up in building traffic and putting your best face forward, but the reality is that people want to see the real you. No matter how much you travel, your stories will never be the same as anyone else’s.

    • Thanks Tara! So true when you say our stories will never be the same as anyone else 🙂

  • geordieunsure

    What a post! I can relate to this on so many levels. I’ve found recent free time I have gained whilst I begin a new job has been filled with guilt that I should be progressing my blog/social media status at a million miles an hour and reading about how to do so successfully. The free time I’ve gained happens to be near beautiful Spanish beaches but the aforementioned guilt that I should be using the time more productively has prevented me from fully ‘switching off’. In trying to expand my social media and learn how to do so I feel I’ve lost hours and hours and made little or no progress, especially to the sort of accounts I follow. But as everybody says I guess patience is key and other things should always remain a priority. Im going to to go back to writing posts that only 20 people read, and be happy with that engagement rather than put pressure on myself to become more ‘global’

    • Thanks so much for stopping by! The guilt and determination of not blogging is what helped me start again, and I started by being honest with myself, thinking about the types of posts I’d want to read… in the hopes that others could relate. Social media plays such a big part too, but I realized that it’s not as important as simply publishing content you feel good about. I also agree that any engagement is better than none, even if the numbers are small. So jealous you’re in Spain right now! Thanks for connecting 🙂

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