As you all may know, travel has become one of the most popular things on social media, and is what everyone is talking about. Everyone wants to travel now. Well, almost everyone. Also, many want to blog about it, myself included. Whether it is via Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, or personal blogs, travellers love to share their stories, for the most part. There is of course nothing wrong with that, in fact I quite enjoy it as well! However, with everyone talking about travel, it can be a great thing, but it can also lead to some confusion and misconceptions. My aim in this article is to unpack, (see what I did there?), this world of backpacking, solo travel, group travel, tours, and all that jazz. Having travelled a lot myself, and having had many conversations with people from all over the world, I want to give not only my point of view but some valuable (I think) information, as well as the different things that I have heard along the way. Whether you are an experienced traveller or someone who is thinking of venturing off for the first time, you can always learn something, eh?
- Fear, disinterest, or apprehension
First of all, no, you don’t HAVE to travel. If you are in doubt, or scared, or unsure, then don’t. There is no point forcing yourself to do something like because it can actually be dangerous for you, let alone the fact that you will be wasting your time and money because you will be miserable. If it’s not something you find appealing, then forget it. You can’t for yourself to like something. Of course, personally I think that travel can change people and lives, but that’s also why I write a travel blog! 🙂
By the same token, there can be great change that comes from challenging oneself. If a push is all you need, or reassurance that it will all be ok, then you need to start packing! It’s normal to be scared. It’s normal to be intimidated, overwhelmed, nervous, and unsure. That’s when the change happens. That’s when you put yourself to the test to research, plan, organise, map out, and prepare the trip of a lifetime. It will be your creation, your project, your thing! Read more about what I call the pre-trip DOs here.
2. Tours and packages vs. independent, or even improvised travel
Alright, so there are many opinions about these concepts, some of which I will discuss in this article. In my opinion, you can 100% book a tour, especially if it’s your first time travelling and/or you will be alone. I know many people who have taken tours, even though they normally travel alone because they simply did not want to be in that country alone. In China, for instance, I took a tour, because it was my first time in Asia, I was alone and I did not speak a lick of Mandarin. Now, I also know people who do not care about that and have never travelled with a tour group. That’s fine as well! I did HongKong independently, as well as Singapore, Malaysia, and Bali. Everything was fine, amazing in fact. However, Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam I did with a group. This was all part of the same holiday last summer and really just depended on how I felt with regards to each country. In my current travel plans, I have booked nothing with a group and I am travelling alone for four and a half months through Europe, Asia, Australia, New Zealand, and Fiji.
Then again, I planned everything way in advance! I may not have booked tours but I booked my flights, put down payments on every night of accommodation, and even planned for the trains that I did not book in advance but that I will be taking to different cities. The only things i have not booked are my last 3 nights in Fiji before i fly back to England because I wanted to live on the edge a bit haha!
For this particular trip, it being so long and having ample time for things to get out of hand, I felt it was better, for me, to book everything I could, budget according to what I still have to spend whilst travelling, and plan it out as much as possible. Of course, unexpected expenses came up within the first few days, but once again, that is part of the travel package.
Lastly, I have a friend that travelled for a few months last year and combined one tour (in China where we met), independent planned travel, and improvised independent travel, where she stayed in a couple countries, playing it by ear and leaving when it suited her best.
Bottom line is, you can travel whichever way you like. You decide what suits you best! Do you want to backpack? Do you want to stay in hostels? Do you prefer hotels? Do you prefer planes over trains? Do you want a group so that you can make friends more easily? etc. YOU choose your travel style and plans. Travel stories are meant to be shared, not used to compete with fellow travellers. In any case, someone who travels a certain way just to be able to say they did it and it’s better, are not the kind of people you want sharing these experiences with you.
3. Doing it to be part of something bigger, and not something big.
If you are travelling because you hear everyone talking about it and you want to be a part of this scene, maybe that’s not the right reason. Sure, you can get nice photos for social media, you can tick places of your To-Do list, but if you don’t really care for it truly, is it worth it? I mean yeah, travel changes you. But only if you let it. If you go somewhere completely closed off and in your own bubble, you may as well watch videos of this country on YouTube. However, if you do in fact, in your own way, want to experience something different, learn something new, meet new people, get to know yourself more, and be a part of the world in a larger sense then go for it!
I am not telling you what to do. Obviously you are entitled to travel if you like, but don’t do it to be part of a trend if you will not be happy whilst doing it. Do it because you really want to, and not because you need to be able to say you did it too.
4. Glamour? I don’t think so…
Ok, aside from people who have the opportunity to travel first class, or in private jets, and get pampered, and driven around everywhere and so on, travel is not glamorous, especially backpacking. I like posting travel photos to my Instagram as much as the next gal, but good god what I leave out of my page would change people’s perspective of my life forever! Of course, it’s a known fact that social media is a practical way to tailor ones image and present it in such a way that we appear as we would like to appear. Nothing wrong with that. But I get messages from people sometimes saying “wow! such a glamorous lifestyle”, in things like that. I know it may seem as special and pretty on Instagram, but it’s not always! I have good and bad days, sometimes it rains, sometimes it doesn’t, I don’t fly first class, I am not driven around, and most of the time, it’s better for you that I am not in the photo. I get blisters, sun burns, and bites. I get sweaty, sticky, tired, and cranky. But do I post those pictures? No. Definitely not haha. only because my goal is to share my passion for travel with you, and part of that passion comes from making to that beautiful scene, through thick and thin, capturing the moment for life, then basking in it for as long as I like. I would not say that is glamour, I would say that is privilege.
5. It won’t change you or your life, only you can do that. But it helps!
Yeah, travel can change your perspective, your outlook, your experiences, your days; but it cannot change you or your life on its own. When I travelled to Asia for the first time, I kept saying it changed my life. It did of course, but only because I decided to go on that trip. I decided to embark on an adventure, to get out of my comfort zone, try something new, and explore. So yeah, I mean, it changed my life. It opened my eyes, showed me parts of the world I only ever had dreamed of visiting. But who changed me? Who changed my life really? I did. Just like you will or have if you travel. 2 + 2 = 4 only because they are both there and a plus sign binds them. There is a combination, an intent, and then a result. In other words, YOU + TRAVEL = CHANGE.
Write you soon,