I’m sorry travel, I love you, but I need to rant. Actually, this isn’t a rant about the actual act of travelling, but the stereotypes and this perception of the “ideal” traveller and what the right way is to “do” travel.
I consider myself someone who absolutely loves travel – I basically have a one-track mind about it, it excites me, it inspires me… I just love it.
But something bugs me, and it’s been bugging me for a long time. Again and again I’ve drafted posts angled at my frustrations on traveller stereotypes and the notion of what a traveller should be. In one of my less tolerant moments, a draft appeared titled “How Not to Be an Idiot While Travelling” (this was mainly aimed at people who take selfies in really inappropriate areas and boast to the point of overkill of their travels). But I always chickened out slightly, not knowing the right way to phrase it. I don’t want to offend people, but I feel like what I want to say needs to be said.
Some people have managed to put this spin on travel, or the “art” of travel that often sounds pretentious, idealistic and actually incredibly dismissive to other types of travel or even people. This pisses me off as I believe travel is down to you: do it how you like, as long as you’re respectful of cultures and landmarks. There is no “right” way to travel or the “right” person to be.
Here are a few of the stereotypes I’ve seen pop up that I really can’t stand:
You’re not a true traveller unless you sell all your belongings and quit your job.
I mean, seriously. People who think this, get over yourself. Travelling does not mean becoming some “nomad” (a word used far too frequently, in the same category as “wanderlust”) who doesn’t want to be “tied down”. Travelling long term is great, sure. So is having a job you enjoy and is good for your future. If you don’t enjoy your job, then fine, that’s a separate issue, but that doesn’t automatically mean you should quit and travel.
Having a job can be brilliant – it gains you friends, you learn new skills and you grow… the same benefits as travel! They are obviously very different things still, but the answer to everything isn’t to quit your job, sell everything, and travel. I don’t judge those who have chosen that path: if it’s right by you, then more power to you. What I do judge is this attitude that you’re better because you have chosen that path. I am positive there is someone out there who has a full time job, who is just as happy in that job, in their lifestyle, as you are in yours.
There are many different ways to travel, and it can be done in a full time job. I’m doing it, and I get to travel a lot. I feel I’ve gained many perspectives and advantages from travel – whilst in a full time job – and I don’t think for a second that someone who is travelling full time has necessarily gained more than me, or has somehow got more out of life. It’s not about how long you’re travelling or taking up the ‘nomadic lifestyle’ to reap the benefits of travel, it’s about how open-minded you are and how observant and connected you are to your surroundings. Someone who travels for 2 weeks can therefore be more well-off than someone who has for 2 years.
A job is not a chain or your own personal hell/prison in every case. Be respectful to the way people choose to live their lives. Thinking it’s the “boring” or “wrong” way to do things just because it’s not what you think is best just shows you’re not very open-minded yourself.
You have to be some beautiful, free-spirited, ‘untamable woman’ to travel.
That link up there in the subheading is to a piece by Elite Daily on the travelling woman… I dislike it. I dislike Elite Daily most times. While some things are worth reading, I think a whole load is complete pretentious garbage.
With the above jibberish, there are certain things I can agree with: travelling and adventure does indeed make you more independent, and I do believe you should always be looking for your own approval, not someone else’s. I very much aspire to live freely and do what I want to do and what I love.
But what I disagree with is the suggestion that having a relationship or a marriage is apparently a negative correlation/mutually exclusive with being a free, independent woman.
It seems like the person who wrote this is trying to perpetuate this new type of adventurous woman, but what she’s actually done is taken a huge step backwards and categorised women into “good” and “bad”, in fact just making a new way women “should” be… to me, that’s not being any sort of modern woman at all. Let women be who they want to be – a strong, free woman, in my eyes, doesn’t degrade other women. This article basically says, “I’m not like other women”, a sentiment I’ve grown to dislike. Who are these “other women”? Stop dissing your own kind, stop trying to separate yourself from your sex as if it’s something to be ashamed of.
All women are amazing in their own ways. We all have flaws, we all have our own behaviours, some we condone and some we don’t. We all have things we respect more than others. But I don’t think it’s right to blame that on the female gender and pretend you have nothing to do with it. We have to stick up for and support each other, not bitch and bring each other down.
As for the idea that you can’t be free and simultaneously be in a loving relationship, that’s complete bull. For the second time this blog post, I will say: get over yourself. It is very, very, very possible to be free-spirited, to be independent, and also be with someone. Doing something together with your partner and feeling connected to them doesn’t make you weak or an anti-modern woman. It makes you human.
I mention Alan a fair bit on my blog. I travel with him, and I’m (very) often apart from him, being in a long distance relationship and all that. He is – stating the obvious – an extremely important part of my life and I find both my relationship with him and my relationship with myself of high priority. Does that make me tame, dependent and unadventurous? No way. I think the concept of “tame” a bit stupid, I depend on Alan in some ways, yes, but I also consider myself independent, and I will openly admit that I think of myself as one of the more adventurous people I know.
What grinds my gears is that these articles are trying to make this idolised version of a woman traveller, and in reality, there are only two things that make you the perfect female traveller: if you are female, and if you travel. If you have a partner who you love too, then you are still a great female traveller. If you are more cautious than spontaneous, you are still a great female traveller. If you want both a plane ticket and marriage, you are still a great female traveller.
I’m Kirsten, I am a female, I love travel/travelling, I have a lovely boyfriend who I enjoy travelling with, I am adventurous and I love feeling free, but I also like to research and plan. And guess what? I am an awesome, ideal female traveller. Suck it, Elite Daily.
As a traveller, you’re somehow superior to everyone else in the world.
This is pretty much interlinked and spills out from the rest of the points I’ve demonstrated here. Travel is one interest of many. I do, of course, pride myself on my love for travel, but that’s because it’s my interest. I believe everyone should travel, and I want to inspire people to travel. I think it’s of great personal development and connects you more with the rest of the world. I always think, well, we’re in this world, we should get to know it, right?
But, I will never take part in criticising someone for not being as passionate as I am about travel, or making it a focus in their life. People like other things too, y’know? I dislike it when people actively avoid travel or have certain perceptions down to a lack of education about the world or the act of travel, but I will never think I’m superior to anyone just because I travel. I feel like there are some who get on their high horse about it, who make a point to boast, to make people jealous, and I just feel like that degrades the whole point of travel. It’s about opening our minds and seeing we’re all equal, not slamming people and making some sort of travel class system.
I couldn’t be happier that travel has come up more in the limelight of late, that more people are going off to different places they wouldn’t have thought of before, and sometimes even following in footsteps of blogs they read. But I think it should be encouraged to find your own pace and personality of travel. You don’t need to aspire to the hype people are putting out there, to be a certain traveller, under certain rules. Travel should bring us together and make you grow personally… and there is no way that can be done when you’re abiding to silly stereotypes of what other people think a traveller “should” be.
I am all for inspiring people to travel – that’s what I want to do on this blog. That is my number one aim. But I’m also a huge fan of finding your own style, finding your own interests, finding the things that inspire and feel good to you.
So I hope none of this offended anyone or came across as rude. As anything on here, it’s just my opinion and my way of wishing to show that you can be whoever you want when you’re travelling.
Happy travels. Don’t get too bogged down by the internet’s expectations. There’s a world out there!