You know how you get older and become more like a sage, reading all these profound philosophical ‘self-help’ books and hanging onto deep quotes and meditating upon them until they sink in? Through them I’ve learnt over the years to celebrate milestones in my own unique way, for life in itself is worthy of celebration.
For this blog, another year of its’ existence has been cause to ‘party’ as I mentioned in my last post. In this one, I try to spell out a couple of things I’ve learnt in my three year journey as a travel blogger. I mention the people, the places and the corresponding experiences, in no particular order. I may slide in some words of wisdom or shift gears to address issues in the second or third person. So here goes;
1) Every destination has it’s own peculiar story: Each time I land at a new destination, I look out for the nuances that make the destination what it is. As a travel blogger, I’ve learnt to take the ‘don’t go to destination A or B..there’s nothing to see‘ advice with a pinch of salt. I’ve learnt to face each new destination as if it were a blank sheet of paper, and let it tell it’s tale through the sights, the sounds, the smells and the peoples in all their idiosyncrasies..and only then can I be truthful and thorough in my attempts to market the destinations to others. I wanted to skip Chisinau in Moldova. I was told there was nothing to see…that the buildings were grey, dowdy and dreary. I loved Chisinau, I wished I’d stayed longer and even skipped over to Cricova. I missed the chance to visit the largest wine cellar in the world to get some kick-ass wine-tasting.
2) Everyone thinks you’re on vacation when you are hard at work: Travel is not just travel to the blogger. Every experience whether negative or positive counts for something; mostly it counts as fodder for the story cow you’ll milk for all it’s worth. When I travel, I find that I am more observant than when I’m just lounging at home, for good reason obviously. As a traveler you have to crane your ears and listen to what’s happening around you, you have to question the environment. The fear of missing out is tangible, so as much as you feel the discomfort of travel, you keep plodding on. There are those moments you hate being a nomad, and long to be in the comfort of your home and kitchen. For the experienced travel blogger, the stay-cation becomes the magical experience, the one that can be considered a vacation. You’re not a tourist, you’re a travel blogger. Travel is work.
3) Shaders gonna shade so do you: Not everyone understands your journey, what you’re doing or why you’re doing it. Do what you feel comfortable with. Some folk will hate the fact that you travel all the time, others will hate that you travel too fast, yet others will loath the fact that you even travel. *Eyes roll to the back of head.* Do you. The funny thing is that the folks that most throw shade are not even remotely related to you. At best they are random trolls hiding in the vast cyber-sphere, at worst, insecure or envious people. People should understand that our travel is not done on a whim, rather they are on carefully thought out plans and itineraries.
My biggest cheerleader is my mum, she always marvels when I call her from various destinations. I keep her second guessing, ‘Where next?’
At our church, one of the leaders laughs a welcome when I’m back from my jaunts. She’s baptized me ‘world-traveler.’ Throwing shade at me would be akin to water off a duck’s back..I keep it moving, it doesn’t in any way, shape or form hinder my efforts. I surround myself with those who urge me on.
4) So many destinations are underrated, while others are overrated: I tried hard to find the wow factor in Krakow. For me it was meh. Places such as Mogadishu, Brugge, Brasov, Sarajevo or even Kiev commanded my attention.
That’s just me however, different strokes for different folks. It’s important for people to find destinations that wow them, and understand that just because a destination is the hoopla-hoop with five-star reviews, doesn’t mean it will be popular with you, and that’s okay.
5) Locals are king: Humans are inherently good and friendly. You’ll have a helping hand..you’ll make frends, you’ll be the recipient of hospitality and kindness over and over at every turn. Locals are awesome..everywhere. Of course exercise caution, and behave as you would in your home environment; keep your wits about, avoid dark alleys and weird corners, use common sense and listen to your gut feeling. It’s always wise to research destinations before headed there. Be mindful of local culture and customs, and dress so as not to offend the hospitality of the destination you are visiting. Too many travelers are not mindful of the flora and fauna of places they travel to. They participate in the abuse of animals for the sake of selfies, leave trash on the beaches after full moon parties and generally behave like empty heads by desecrating sites considered sacred in foreign lands. Respect locals.
6) Just travel: You shouldn’t spend most of your life over-analyzing. I find it mildly amusing that most people desire to travel but spend alot of time fretting, calculating and re-calculating, and are still bound by their mindsets and assumptions about destinations. Travel is simple. Buy a ticket. Book your hotel. Apply for travel insurance. Read up on the destination, plan your itinerary…go. Yes, there’s food in the destination, you will not starve. There are supermarkets, you’ll have the occasional farmers markets, there may be malls, there are taxis and other forms of transportation. You are not on a one-way ticket to Mars. Relax. Take Nike’s advice and just do it. Travel that is.
7) Travel bloggers may not know all there is to know about a destination, so cut us some slack: We are a broad spectrum of globetrotters. So many of us go on gambols on a shoestring budget or otherwise at the behest of tourist boards in a corporate agreement sealed by the exchange of funds. We may touch destinations with the blink of an eye and can only admit our experiences are personal, are subjective, and likely in all honesty offer disclaimers. We may appear biased or over report on UNESCO world heritage sites instead of seeking out hidden gems. We admit that we don’t know every nook and cranny of a country. We may fail you in that respect, and for that we apologize in advance.
8) There are destinations we are so familiar with that we refer to cities intimately, by their acronyms: If you hear us say KL, and you get that we’re gabbing about Kuala Lumpur, you my friend will be drawn a little bit closer into our tribe; the hashtag ‘squad’ of globetrotters. In the same vein, we are looking out for you. We welcome kindred souls, and we love those that get us.
9) Our biggest travel secret just may be that airports give us a strange high: The rush and speed of everything sends adrenalin coursing through our veins in a pulsating crescendo. People arriving and others departing, the orderliness and disorderliness in one place awakens our senses out of slumber. If we have time on our hands, and crave being elsewhere but aren’t able to go at the time, then we’ll likely go to the airport, have an overpriced drink at one of the many establishments mushroomed there, then go to the waving bay, just to watch planes take off…then we’ll return home and feel like our ‘wander-thirst’ has been quenched. For now.
10) I’ve realized I can’t have it all, but I know it’s ok: I’d love to go to Antarctica or Afghanistan; but I’ve learnt that there are countries on my bucket list that I may or may not ever go to, so I enjoy the places I am able to visit right now. I take one day at a time.