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.
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.
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).
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.
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?
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?