Let me start by saying y’all might want to grab yourself a cup of tea, a comfortable seat, and sit back for this one.
I will first start out and say that I am also guilty of the travel inflated ego syndrome. My photos on Instagram and social media are curated to show the best parts of my trips and adventures. I won’t post a photo that I find to be “ugly” or not part of my Instagram feed aesthetic. And yes, the likes, comments, and shares on my social media posts related to travel, boost my ego. I am guilty of being a hypocrite. But, one thing I know is true is my message about travel.
Now, travel is so much more than your inflated ego and your social media posts. Travel is more than the lavish lifestyle that you try to keep up with. It is more than the likes, the status, or the shallow and punny comments to capture a beautiful shot. Why do YOU travel?
Why do you travel?
If you take away all of the “extra” that surrounds us, why do you travel? Why do you spend your hard earned money on this activity? What about travel makes you excited to get in the car and drive somewhere new? Lately, when I scroll through social media, I always leave with an immense and heavy feeling of FOMO. I feel a pang of jealousy for all of the people who are jet-setting off to new places, trying new foods, and looking good while doing it. The envy that builds inside me is ugly.
So, I started to compare my trips to theirs. I wanted to travel faster, wanted to see the whole world and post about it. I copied Instagram shots I saw other travel influencers doing, so I could get the hundreds of likes and comments. I wanted people to look at my social media accounts and think that I was living the good life! And then I felt like I was missing the whole point about what travel was. During my trips, I barely enjoyed myself because I wanted to get the perfect shot or Snapchat, or whatever. I felt fake because I was mimicking how other people traveled.
That is not why I travel. To me, spending my hard earned money on this activity is worth it! I travel because I want to humble myself. There are beautiful landscapes and cityscapes to be seen. Different and interesting flavors and spices to try. There’s a different way of life when I step outside of my bubble. I travel to learn, to get off my high horse, and to make connections and build relationships.
What does it mean to you?
“Travel” sounds like the biggest buzz word at the moment. Everyone wants to do it! If you aren’t traveling, then someone’s telling you, you need to. What would it mean to you if you did travel? Why would you do it? There are so many different answers, because we all travel for different reasons and have different motives. But, the act of traveling is a privilege, and I never want to make it seem like I am an “elite” because I have the privilege of traveling when someone else doesn’t. So, when we get those hundreds of likes on social media, what does it mean to you?
Travel means keeping an open mind, always learning, and not letting fear stop me. It means that I work harder to be able to travel more. To me, travel is a means to heal, to step out of my comfort zone and come back with a fresh pair of eyes. The social media posts that surround travel are really obsolete when I think about it, because in the end, no social media post can truly convey what it means. When I’m out exploring and wandering through new streets, people watching, and trying to take part in a different culture, I feel in my element. I am ready to learn and meet different people that make me question what I’ve been taught! What does it mean to you?
What have I learned?
I’ve learned that no matter where I travel to, near or far, it’s always a different experience. Nothing compares to being yelled at or whispered about walking down the streets of a small town in Spain because I am Asian. How can I describe the vastness of the Cliffs of Moher and the winds that whipped through my hair, when I felt like I could’ve been blown off? Can the camaraderie in an Irish Pub be imitated anywhere else? The kindness and hospitality I’ve felt from complete strangers who welcomed me into their home like I was part of their family; can that be measured in social media posts? I don’t think anything feels as good as a cold beer and sharing a tapa with your group of friends in the amazing Spanish sun.
I’ve learned that a kind heart and an open mind can take you pretty far. Travel has taught me that most people want to be understood and that we all want to feel like we belong somewhere. It’s taught me that the more I visit different cities or countries, home is definitely more of a feeling than a place. I’ve learned that each traveler has a different experience based on race, religion, gender, etc. I’ve also learned that we’re all a bit more connected than we believe. What has travel taught you?
When did travel become more about the perfect Instagram shot, the punniest caption, or showing people how cool you are because you’re in exotic places? Travel is a way to connect with people, with cultures, and kick your ego to the curb. Why do you travel? What has it taught you? What have you learned? All of the places I’ve been to, the things that stick out to me the most are the adventures I had between the photos. It wasn’t about what I was able to capture on my social media outlets. It was about the people I met along the way or the people I came with. For me, it’s always been about deepening relationships, creating connections, and humbling myself to someone else’s culture.
I’m taking a stand on this “Instagram Travel” lifestyle. I’m rebelling against the picture perfect lifestyles I keep seeing that never focus on the experiences between each photo, each Snapchat, or the documented moments. I’m taking back my experiences and I want to share them with y’all. If you’re tired of feeling FOMO every time you open any social media account, this rebellion is for you, too!
What does travel mean to you? Why do you travel?
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