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Don’t believe the lies on travel blogs

A lot of travel blogs document the life many dream about, but, you might notice there is a certain… phoniness about many of them. This article explores why. Although this site has a broader general theme, it is sort-of in the same niche. I noticed some common patterns and themes while doing research setting this website up.

They’re pretty predictable, and funny. Read on.

Fair warning: once you know, you can’t help but notice it.

“Instagram photo + inspiring quote”

This chewed-out concept is the centerpiece of many travel blogs, because it’s an easy way to appear as a deep, sophisticated thinker.

It’s lazy, too. There’s an app for that.

Besides that, many of these quotes aren’t attributed to their original author, and the person who posted it most likely hasn’t heard of, nor ever read anything by, said author.

“I’m a traveler, not a tourist

The stereotype is that the tourist is an old, fat person that only stays in resorts and hotels. The traveler really immerses into the culture. 

That’s one of the many vague ways of putting it.

Does being a traveler mean you’re eating local food that’s alien to you? Does that mean you take a tuk-tuk instead of a regular taxi? Does that mean you’re not staying exclusively in five-star resorts? Does that mean you’re taking selfies with African kids in a mud-hut village to show the world how awesome you are?

There doesn’t seem to be a simple answer to this question.

I have a theory, though.

Many Millennials have spent their upbringing hearing how special, unique and amazing they are. It is no wonder then, that they are also special when it comes to traveling.

They’re not just a tourist. How dare you? They’re a traveler. Sounds much more unique, important and so much better than everybody else.

For argument’s sake, why not stick to the definitions we’ve all agreed on. According to the dictionary, a tourist is “a person who is traveling or visiting a place for pleasure,” and a traveler is “a person who is traveling or who often travels.” The two are linked as synonyms for one another in every word processor out there.

In other words, it’s essentially the same idea in this context, which renders the entire argument meaningless, and it’s mostly just another example of one of the worst traits of Generation Special Snowflake in action. It’s not like they’re Shantaram. Sure, there is the rare exception, but that person is probably not the one running a blog about it.

“Everything and everyone is #amazing and #beautiful and #awesome”

I agree with the idea that a lot of folks think the world is a lot worse than it actually is. We are naturally wary of what we’re not familiar with; it’s part of our survival mechanism. Ironically, mostly the people who never set foot out of their own country think this way.

It’s good to see new places, experience different cultures and meet new people, especially if it makes us uncomfortable. It’s the best way to open one’s mind and grow as a person. A lot of places have great things to offer and most people are good people. This includes places and people we think are not. This is the main reason I believe traveling is the best thing you can do with your time and money.

However, it’s a fact of life that many places in this world are real shit-holes with few redeeming qualities to them, and that there are a lot of fucked up people doing fucked up things.

Going on a long-term travel adventure is surely an unforgettable experience. That doesn’t mean it’s always fun all the time, but taking it to the other extreme makes for weak writing and sets off bullshit detectors.

When everything is amazing, nothing is amazing.

When everyone’s a winner, no-one is a winner.

When everything is an accomplishment, nothing is an accomplishment.

Et cetera.

The world doesn’t need anymore participation trophies. It’s mind-blowing to me that people once thought that was a good idea.

I remember reading a blog post of some guy who caught some kind of tropical disease that made his skin break out and give him very high fever. He posted a selfie with a big smile on his sweaty, rashed-out face, looking seemingly all happy he just caught some jungle-disease.

Come on, man. We all know you’re feeling horrible and are not happy about that. Don’t insult our intelligence.

Reality check: Most places are great to visit, but there are places out there where the food is shit, the weather is shit, the infrastructure is shit, and the people are shit.

“Paradise picture with a laptop” – this is my work

No, it’s not. Not for the majority of people giving this travel blogging thing a shot it isn’t.

There are a handful of travel bloggers out there that manage to make a real living off their website, but those are the lucky very few. And even then, that’s not what your average day looks like.

Reality check: Most people running a travel blog are either spending their savings, or working a job while traveling. Usually not a fun job, either. Unless you have a bartending skills or know a trade, backpackers tend to get the bottom of the barrel when it comes to jobs, because employers know they won’t stick around for long.

I also always have to laugh when they lament how much work it all is, and how this lifestyle isn’t easy.

Bitch, please. Hard work? Try digging a ditch for a living.

You’re traveling the world. Most people can only dream about what you’re doing. Anything uncomfortable coming your way is because you chose this lifestyle, so GTFO with your complaints.

“Ten reasons why this place is awesome/you should go X/you should do Y”

Listicles are a format made poplar by click-bait garbage website Buzzfeed. These are “articles” based around an ordered list of titles that each hold one to two paragraphs, along with animated GIFS and photos.

I get that long-form doesn’t always work for the internet, but this is the intellectual equivalent of cheap fast-food; empty calories that make your brain fat and dumb. It’s a lazy way of putting an article together, and the people that enjoy that shit shouldn’t be the audience anyone would hope for.

And most of all…

It’s all about meeeeee

I always cringe when bloggers feel compelled to inject him/herself into every single photo and situation.

The yoga pose in front of a land-mark especially takes the narcissism to the next level. I’m still trying to figure out who came up with it, and why it caught on. Sure, everyone likes to look at a hot chick doing a yoga pose, but Jesus. Doing it in front of the Eiffel tower is just distracting.

And sure, a picture here and there is cool, but it’s way overdone. Just take a photo of the beautiful beach and landscape and save the selfies for the family. You’re really not that interesting.

In conclusion…

Like most content on the internet, take everything you read on travel blogs with a grain of salt.

I’m looking forward to your hate-mail.

Last image © Joan Cornella
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About Diederik

Diederik is a guy from Rotterdam, The Netherlands. He quit his job when he was 29 years old and traveled the world for over 18 months as a digital nomad and bartender. On this website, he posts his travel photos and experiences, records podcasts with interesting people, and shares his general thoughts.

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High-quality content is added to The Polarizer at irregular intervals. If you don’t want to miss anything, sign up for the mailing list for free to get a notification when new podcasts or articles are posted.
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