Pick up your phone and scroll through your Instagram feed. I bet there’s one travel photo there, an OOTD snapped in front of a gorgeous landscape or some shot of food all laid out on a wooden table. There’s this friend of yours frolicking in Santorini and another surfing the waves in Baler. Everyone seems to be having the time of their lives online, but have you ever thought about what goes off-screen?
As someone who’s heavily into social media, I know how easy it is to snap attractive photos and produce a caption for Instagram. There’s also a certain ease in creating a travel guide on a particular city. When you’re on social media and you have a blog, you do your best to show the best. It’s a little scary how we’ve all become expert curators of our lives, in these filtered landscapes and flatlays.
What I’m saying is: we don’t show the ugly truths.
This is where I came up with a new “series” for my blog. I’ve always said I will be insightful and honest in this blog and for me that means showing some of the things that most people shove under the rug. Things that are a reality when you choose to lead an unconventional, somewhat impractical lifestyle of a wanderer or a digital nomad, like struggling to get a freelance gig or dealing with pre-trip anxiety.
I hope I’ll be doing something worthwhile with that, especially with the recent issue in the travel blogging community. Earlier this week, a rather controversial article came up on AdWeek and Buzzfeed, featuring a blogger couple who used to work in the advertising industry but are now scrubbing toilets. I was a little dismayed when someone I respected posted about it, saying how the couple were whiny and how they should just go home if they’re so miserable. I also saw others sharing the article or posting comments on how you shouldn’t lead a life of travel because, well, look where that got them.
The article didn’t read that way to me, even if the media outlets sensationalized the situation and made it out as some sort of click bait type of article. Why are they angry at this couple? They were just showing a side of this lifestyle that most people don’t get to see. Sure it’s not the ideal way to go, but it’s still their truth and they wanted to shine some light on it. Not everyone wants to teach English and not everyone is capable of working online. They picked up jobs they can do while traveling and while these are a far cry from their former jobs, the struggle in making their trips possible actually made them appreciate it even more. It’s the reality for most people but we don’t get to read about it because very few choose to write about it.
I’m not setting out to be the Debbie Downer of the blogosphere. I just want some diversity I guess. Because for every star blogger out there, earning from their readers’ click behavior or going on sponsored trips, there are people who are working outside of blogging to fund a life of travel. Heck, there are people who are just writing and doing it for themselves, no monitizing involved, like Brenna and Jodi. There are those who are struggling to make ends meet while on the road, someone scrubbing toilets like the blogger couple, someone waitressing, someone offering freelance consultation services, etcetera. People who don’t get heard enough because we’re all reading the same material drilled through and through: that you can live and achieve this lifestyle, the I quit my job and look, I have my happily ever after.
I’m not saying it’s not possible because it is. I just think this lifestyle has been so glamorized by the blogs and social media. I want you to be informed of the other side too. I want you to know that there will be bad days and not just good days. I want you to know that it’s not all window seat shots and perfect strangers. I want you to know that there are considerations, consequences and sacrifices when you choose this lifestyle.
I hope the travel blogging community will be more than the likes and shares on Facebook, more than the hearts gained on Instagram, retweets in Twitter or views on Snapchat. More than the shiny blog posts and the rise or decline of numbers on Google Analytics. Let’s help each other out and let’s be real together, onscreen and off-screen.