I’ve noticed a bit of a trend recently, and even I’ve been a victim of it. I don’t know whether if it’s because I’m involved in the travel blogger community, have uncontrollable wanderlust, or down to something else altogether, but lately, I’ve felt traveling has got a little bit competitive. Whether it be how many countries you visit in a year, how far you’ve travelled solo, or where you’ve stayed, things have turned into a bit of a competition, and I’m not sure if I like it.
Quality or Quantity
I’ve been thinking about this for a while now, and it think it all comes down to quality or quantity. The way I see it, there are two types of traveller, those who opt for quality, really experiencing the culture of a country and explore what it has to offer, or those who decide they want to visit as many countries as possible in the shortest space of time. There’s no right or wrong, it’s what you want to do. Being honest? I’m a mixture of the two, as I think most people probably are. I want to travel to as many different countries as I can because I want to take advantage of being able to do so. I am completely fascinated by different cultures and experiences and want to make the most of having a passport. On the other hand, I’ve taken 3 years exploring USA and a tiny bit of Canada, breaking different areas up into separate trips, but I wouldn’t even think about doing this for other countries. Why? Because I organise trips based on what interests me and if everything that I want to see is relatively close to each other I’ll try and see it all in a single trip. Makes sense right?
Being from the UK, I’m incredibly lucky in that I have the ability to travel to most countries, and am fortunate I have the opportunity to be able to afford to travel. The World has never really been more accessible, with cheap flights and package deals, travelling has become a norm, especially for twenty-somethings. I was talking to my Dad about this actually before I left for my most recent trip, and he was saying gap years were unheard of when he was younger, and people only really travelled to Europe And when he did travel to Europe he felt like he was the luckiest person alive. Having a quick flick through my Instagram now and I have friends currently in Australia, Japan, Thailand, Chile and South Africa. That’s how times have changed; people roam more and further than they have ever been able to. My Dad thinks I’m incredible because I will go travelling alone. He constantly says he wouldn’t of been able to do this when he was younger, but then again, it’s pretty normal now, this solo traveling malarky.
Still not seeing the competition yet? Don’t worry, I’m getting to it. I’ve been planning to go to Australia and New Zealand for the longest time, and am now starting to plan a rough trip for in about two years. It was whilst looking at ideas, so I can get a rough idea of how much I need to save, I kept thinking that I need to add other countries to my list. Well, yeah, to be fair, when the time comes I’ll probably add 2 other places for a little stop-over to make the travelling a bit more bearable but my trip suddenly turned into this mammoth round-the-world spectacular. How did that happen? Because I looked at other people’s gap year itineraries online and their’s made mine look a little pathetic for someone who calls themselves a travel blogger. So it grew.
Are Pinterest and Instagram to blame?
I opted for quantity or quality. I tried to budget for a couple of days in each country so I could say I’d been, and then move on to the next. And instead of waiting for a couple of years to save up, I felt the need to do it now, because, well because the world was there waiting. When I stepped back, I had a thought, is this really how I want to travel? Cram everything in, exhaust myself, see a lot but experience nothing? I felt bad because so far I’ve only been to ‘Western’ countries and these didn’t count as travelling. I thought I had to visit countries with entirely different cultures on the opposite side of the world to be considered to be a serious traveller. And that’s the problem. I stopped travelling for me, and stated planning trips that would make people think I was a true adventurer and I guess, impress people.
Yeah, if I’m honest I wanted to impress people with a super fancy list of countries, crammed full of the best hostels, hotels and experiences possible. I wanted to be able to say I’ve slept in a floating bungalow, I wanted to say I’ve been blessed by a Buddhist Monk in a hidden temple and I also kinda wanted to have incredible pictures. You know, pictures that prove I’ve been there and prove I’ve travelled far and wide. Why? Because that’s what everyone else had, and, honestly, I wanted it too, and more. The pictures, not the experiences (although the ones I’ve said I’d actually love to do). That’s the thing. Pictures are supposed to tell a thousand words, but sometimes they don’t tell a true thousand. Sometimes the person looks like they have experienced more than they have. If I did that mammoth itinerary, that’s what would have happened to me. I’d have had all the pictures, but none of the stories, life experiences and memories. I would have been too busy rushing around to really understand any culture and enjoy my time there. Sounds like my idea of travel hell. Would I have had these wild ideas without seeing amazing pictures on Pinterest and Instagram? I don’t think I would have. I think I would have just priced up my original idea and been excited over that. Don’t get me wrong, I adore Pinterest and Instagram for travel inspo and you can find ideas you would have never thought of as well as super useful tips, but there is also a dark side. A side that can make you feel not enough if you don’t do X Y and Z. I mean did you really do a gap year if you didn’t go to Thailand? Yes. Yes you did.
My Travel Philosophy
I might be the only one who thinks travel has become a bit competitive, and to be honest, I’d quite like it if that was the case. I would be so happy if this was just me reading too much into things because that way nobody is sat at home feeling forced to do something they’re not comfortable with. I would absolutely hate anyone to feel pressurised to travel to places they have no interest in, a way that isn’t them and experience things they really don’t want to. At the end of the day, travel is as personal as the person doing it. It’s you adventure, do it your way. Don’t feel like you have to stay in hostels because that’s where ‘travellers’ stay or travel alone because that’s what your supposed to do in your twenties. Don’t feel like you have to climb a mountain if you hate the outdoors or have to visit every continent on Earth. There’s no rules to travelling, it’s completely your choice where, how and when so make sure the why is for you and not others.
If you made it to the end, I’m impressed. Let me know if you’ve been a victim of competitive travel before. Have you ever done something just so you can say you’ve done it?