Image Credit & Text Overlay: Backpacking Brunette
When you feel passionately about something, it’s easy to go overboard. In your excitement, you forget not everyone feels the same way you do.
Travelers, myself included, love to tell stories. Adventure changes us, and we want to share that with our friends and family. Perhaps even encourage them to take a trip of their own.
Travel makes one modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.
Travel should be humbling, yet, it’s easy to sound pretentious when you talk about travel. When you start to brag, even the coolest stories fall on deaf ears.
I get it. You’ve been places. Seen things. Met people. A w e s o m e.
It is possible to talk about travel and encourage others to take the leap themselves without sounding like a total jerk. The goal is to start a discussion not make people feel bad about the places they have or haven’t been. I started this blog to share my story and (hopefully) inspire people to seek adventure in their own lives. In the four years and many posts since, here’s what I’ve learned:
Acknowledge your privilege
Just about everyone in the world has some degree of privilege. If you travel, you definitely do. It’s gotten really popular to say “Everyone can travel.” But, that’s just ridiculous. And if you’re a travel blogger saying that, it’s irresponsible. Do you honestly know each person’s situation? The reality is not everyone is in a position to travel.
I’ll tell you right now: I don’t have any student loans. With payments looming, most of my friends had no choice but to get jobs immediately after graduation. Free from debt, I had a choice. After turning down an internship, I moved to Spain and lived as an au pair earning €50 a week.
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Acknowledging your privilege doesn’t mean you’ve had it easy. I worked hard during college and continue to work hard today to be able to travel. Acknowledging your privilege means you understand you’re in a unique situation and won’t make generalizations.
Be open and honest
I love Instagram but often worry it’s feeding the picture perfect (read:bullshit) idea many travel bloggers or “influencers” try to sell.
As fun as it is to post photos of beautiful destinations and tell upbeat stories, everyone who writes (or talks) about travel has a responsibility to tell the truth. Don’t sugarcoat. Don’t embellish. Don’t downplay.
When you travel, there are bad days. There are horrible, awful, truly shitty days.
You get lost. The weather sucks. You run out of money. A destination doesn’t live up to the hype. You get food poisoning. The hostel has bedbugs. You’re homesick.
If you genuinely love travel, you tell those stories too.
Here on Backpacking Brunette, I make a concerted effort to keep things as real as possible. Lately, I’ve been focusing on finances. What does it cost to travel? How do I afford my life abroad? It’s not always comfortable talking about money, but it’s a reality of life. Readers deserve the truth, and even though it can sometimes be weird posting about how much money I make or what something set me back, at the end of the day, it’s an honor to provide that information.
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Recognize that everyone is on their own journey
The first thing you need to know about any given person is this: they are not you. I can’t remember where I picked that up, but that little piece of advice has radically changed the way I see the world and interact with other human beings.
We are all different people on our own journeys. What’s right for you might not be (is probably not) right for someone else.
I truly believe all people can benefit from traveling, and I encourage everyone to make it a part of their lives. For different people travel means different things. One man’s backpacking trip around southeast Asia is another man’s weekend in the town over.
As a travel blogger, I recognize my different purposes and embrace each one. Yes, I’m here to inspire, but I’m also here to provide practical ways for you to incorporate travel into your life. This summer when I’m in Michigan, I plan on writing a few posts about traveling in the Midwest and how to explore your hometown. The last thing I want is for someone to read this blog and think: I could never do that.
In this world, we all have to find our own way. It’s my hope that through my writing I can help you find yours.
Eric Gamble says
I literally just had this experience at a crawfish boil here in New Orleans with my friends and family. Everyone asks me about my travels and when they open that door I get all giddy. Its true like you say, “Adventure changes us, and we want to share that with our friends and family.”
As for recognizing your Privilege, I am a little torn about that. Dont get me wrong, we are definitely in a better spot than many people around the world. But when it comes to my friends and family, there is nothing different between us except that I take the time to solve the problem and make travel happen. So I guess I share it because I want them to know that they can do it too cause I am not any better off than they are.
Now as for the different way people travel…that I can agree with. Every one handles challenges differently and what may suck for someone may be totally awesome for another. So as long as you dont dog on your friend for having a “lesser” experience than you..I think you can enjoy story time!
Eric Gamble recently posted…Things to Do in the Triangle, North Carolina
Alex | Backpacking Brunette says
Hi Eric! Thanks for taking the time to read this post and leave such a thoughtful comment. I agree with you that different people prioritize different things. For some, travel WOULD BE POSSIBLE if they decided to save money for a trip rather than buying a brand new car every two years or something of the sort. I’m all for talking about travel and sharing realistic ways to make it a reality. I like to think I’ve set an achievable example for a few people in my life. However, it’s also important to be sensitive to different financial situations, familial commitments, etc. Sounds like you’re doing right by your friends and family! People who genuinely care about you will always be interested in your adventures. Thanks again for reading! P.S. Hope you enjoyed the crawfish 🙂
Alex Wittman recently posted…How to Talk About Travel Without Being a Total Jerk
Hi girl! Great points in this post. I do think it’s a privilege and not everyone can ‘afford’ to travel whether that’s financial or other life roadblocks. While it may seem like travelers are living this fabulous dreamy life, reality is far from it. It can actually get exhausting being on the road and you may run into obstacles, or the thing I’m experiencing right now is running out of money haha ? it also sometimes feels irresponsible when others have taken the path to establish and walk into their ‘adult lives’ while I chose to continue wandering around. In any case, thanks for keeping it real! Enjoy reading more from you:)
Alex | Backpacking Brunette says
Hi Dia! Thanks so much for stopping by! Oh noooo, I definitely know what it’s like to run low on money while on the road. I hope everything works out! When things get tough, I just tell myself that if travel was easy everyone would do it. Like you said, there are definitely obstacles but overcoming them become part of our story. I know it doesn’t always feel this way, but if by traveling you’re being true to yourself, then that’s the most responsible thing you could be doing. Take care, and I’m so happy to have connected with you!
Alex Wittman recently posted…Quintessential Querétaro: A Day Trip to Bernal
I couldn’t agree more about Instagram. I’m so tired of influencers and wanna-be influencers. It’s not just travel, it’s all types of products. It’s all so dishonest. People just want to make money and, really, they’re being unethical. I don’t really know what type of person would buy something, knowing how this works.