The other day travel blogger Wandering Earl wrote an appeal for more honesty in travel blogging. He pointed out that we only show and tell the pretty, the picture perfect of our travels.
I guess, I am as much as fault as anybody else. I have annoyed the world with foot selfies and images of cocktails in perfect locations. If you think it is dishonest of me to not show you pictures of how my dive bag is collecting dust and my tan lines are fading, I do apologize.
However, it seemed more important to Earl that we tend to paint a too rosy picture of our travels themselves. Nothing seems ever scary, messy, boring or in any way unfortunate. And if it does, we turn it into a quick-witted story how we got out of the scary, messy, boring, unfortunate situation and lived to tell the tale. At least, that’s what I do.
So today I thought I should change that and tell you the not so rosy truth about what a bad traveler I really am.
Le freak c’est chic
I am really good at organizing and with that comes that I hate losing control. I like things sorted and if I can sort them now why would I wait so they may or may not sort themselves?
While being organized is essentially not a bad quality for a traveler, I can drive myself crazy at times. I always sleep badly before an early flight, spend way too much time at airports, and get a stomach ache over documents that are in perfect order. The strangest thing is that I hadn’t realized how anal I have gotten until I went to Thailand with my friend, my first non-solo trip in a while. She is the complete opposite of me and so at times we disagreed on everything.
Luckily after this holiday, I know I have my skills down enough to actually loosen the reins a bit – I may just have a better trip for it.
I am a complete creature of habit. You wouldn’t believe it because I think I hide it well. But I like returning to places where I already know how to get a taxi from the airport and that the bed will be comfortable. I like to go to the bar where everybody knows my name. And I like ordering the damn same thing in the same restaurant every time I go. Needless to say, that is okay for my own life, but a bit of an issue for someone who wants to be a travel blogger, right?!
My favorite meal at Mood Asia on Koh Tao. Let’s just say I had it more than once.
My mother has no shame, in a good way that is. She will stare and ask and connect with people in the bluntest, most beautiful way possible. Sometimes she crosses borders, invades personal space, and makes people – me included if I witness – uncomfortable. But she always makes a human connection and learns something new about the lives she encounters – to me the quintessence of travel.
I don’t have this ability; I am too shy, too worried what other’s might think, and if I behave politically correct. I often don’t ask because I’m afraid the answer will be no.
However, deep down I do believe that people will rarely rebuff you if you walk towards them with genuine questions and a smile – all go gotta do is try.
For the love of group
I love group travel. Sometimes I am afraid to admit to that; like real travelers shouldn’t do (and enjoy) organized trips. But today I call myself a bad traveler and will say that I really like group trips! I do get out of my comfort zone while not having to deal with logistics and I have actually made some awesome friends on these trips. If you judge, you should try it sometime!
Lost & found
As much as I preach that one of the best things you can do in a new city is to get lost, I actually hate it. I love it only once I have found my way again, but the time before is pure agony for me. Not finding my way to Bikram yoga in Bangkok and taking an hour to find the Maison de la Photographie in Marrakech was horrible. Not fun at all. Yes, I managed in the end, I persevered, but the getting lost part – nope, not great at all. Not sure if that will ever change and therefore I am eternally grateful for Google Maps and wifi.
Reign of Chaos
I have never been a particularly tidy person and it is worse when I travel. Mainly because I don’t want to spend my time tidying a room I know I will leave the next day. So when you see shiny, pretty hotel room pictures here this is how they happen:
a. I walk into a freshly made hotel room, I dump my suitcase by the door and grab the camera.
b. I yell at any fellow travelers to stay back.
c. I realize the camera is out of battery as it frequently happens when I need it and have to take the iPhone instead.
d. I turn on all lights I need and quickly snap the room from every angle.
You might somewhat rightfully say that this is all superficial. That I still didn’t talk about how it feels like to be bored or scared or anxious on a trip. It’s not that I don’t know these feelings or don’t want to share them, it is simply a normal part of traveling for me, not one that makes a trip bad or me a bad traveler. I take myself with me on every trip and with that the good, the bad, and the ugly. And so I don’t blame the place if I am bored, anxious or scared, I simply accept it as part of me.
In the end, all I want here is to inspire you to travel, to make a list and check it twice if necessary, and to maybe meet some people you are too scared to talk to on the way. How should I do it? You tell me – what inspires you to go into the world and get lost? What will make you the best bad traveler you can be?