I'll be gaining the wrath of “fellow-travellers” as if I already haven't. But as I have already done so, I can go on some more with my criticisms.
They call themselves travel influencers; what they really are instead is... They are a bunch of advertisement agents to get people to spend money on certain hotels, airlines and other travel related agencies, and gadgets.
Yeah, some do it well. They “hide” their advertisement within “best photos of the year” articles or they pretend they are making an interview with a hotel director or a tour operator. They “review” hotels and airlines making us believe it is totally their honest opinion even though we all know they have been sponsored and, even if indirectly, paid to write those pieces.
What real honest opinion would be is if someone is so jazzed by a hotel, airline, tour agency that they write and promote it without being sponsored. Those days are long gone now. Say good-bye. Only very few like me remain. And I am no travel influencer. If I wanted to be an influencer I'd be an un-influencer of this hype of travel which has become an industry. Travel has lost its charm and has become overrated with the traveller profile proliferating the internet today. It's nauseating, or at least unsavoury when travellers overrate themselves.
"With a membership of only approximately 100 people, it’s one of the most exclusive clubs on Earth. In fact, more people have been to outer space than have earned their way into this, the ultimate travel club..." Says Ric Gazarian in the introduction of his "Counting Countries" podcast.
I find it repulsive when you try to elevate your status with the number of countries you've been to. What makes it worse is that the majority of these travellers are none the wiser despite all their travels. It's all ego boost.
Especially for those 193'ers... They go in for a day and out, tick a box... Of course not all but for most of them, it is 80-90 % at the airport and on the plane, 10-20 % taking photos/videos and posting them on social media, 2 % is actually getting to see and do something in the country.
I don't care much and do not criticize the ones doing this for their personal satisfaction, but I sure take issue with people promoting themselves as travel influencers or going for records, because these people have an impact on society at large.
Apart from the travellers themselves, travel is really not fun these days. Travel in the 21st century is more about visas and air travel. Airports are not fun; when you get to your destination being hassled by poor locals trying to sell you trinkets is not fun. Having to adjust to a new surrounding constantly is not fun. But no one really talks about this stuff. Behind those glossy pictures you see all around social media and magazines, there is a stark reality. There is poverty, there is pollution, there is swindling, all kinds of scams and rip-offs, there is conflict, there is basically the dark side of humanity.
These photos are not mine, I wish I had noted who it was from; yet, I could have easily taken these shots myself. They are a perfect reality check, a complete picture of travel and the world, both in the literal sense and allegorically for humanity and media. It takes just taking a step back to see the whole picture. Yet... Almost no one takes that step back for the overview.
Travellers show you only the first half, they are all like “Oh look how wonderful I am travelling. You could be like me too.”
There is a reason for this of course: To sell. How can anybody sell any trip to the latter?
Sell, Sell, Sell...
I'm sorry to say that women travellers are the worse in this industry. They depreciate both women and travel.
Take the below example. I mean I'd understand it if it was some extreme adventure gear or something, some also become tools in promoting basically totally unrelated items to travel, like yoga clothing, watches, sunnies etc.
Emily Luxton is only one of such “travellers”, she is an “award-winning writer and travel blogger”! According to her website claim. Yeah, I have an issue with these people; more than that, I have an issue with the world who promotes and values such people. Where people of my kind have no place in it.
Emily talks about travelling deeper and slower. Good for her, but where are the values behind deep and slow travel that she reflects on her posts?
Emily says “It really irks me” for people saying they've “done” countries. Good, it irks me too. But what about herself? What she does also irks me. Using travel as advertisement. Talking about what one does, without anything of value.
I understand... I understand one needs to make a living. I realized I need to make a living as well. I had accepted not making money all this time. It's not that I am sitting on my ass and not doing anything. It's not that I produce nothing of value in this world. What I write may not be mainstream, yet, it has to have a place and value.
I understand this is the way our world works today to make money. But seriously... This advertisement thing, this relying on promotion, this “I scratch your back, you scratch mine” is demeaning for the people and it is shaping our character and way of interaction in an awfully bad way. Please... Please... Please reward people of value.
In the article “How the Internet Turns Shopping into an Obsession” by Lauren O'Neill, Oct 15 2018, it says:
“Many people, myself included, deal with consumerist impulses. It's one thing to buy a treat when you've been paid, another to spend hundreds of dollars each month on shit due to a combination of boredom, low self-esteem, and materialism, just because it's easy.”
I know many people have consumerist impulses. We are primed to that impulse by our environment, by everything we are surrounded by. Please suppress your consumerist impulses. Please make the internet turn virtue into an obsession. I do not know how you do it, but do it. Stop the promotion and talk about values and wisdom perhaps, talk about special interactions.
You are supposed to see these people travelling to these wonderful exotic destinations, read how wonderful things they did, have your mouth water with their food photos and try to imitate them. Perhaps then, all your worries in life will fade. You will be a new person. It doesn't work out that way. Becoming takes hard work. Being a full and fulfilled person is lifetime work.
Travel and travel influencers today are overrated. Where are the travellers of once upon a time? The real journalists? I don't want to say there are none, but they certainly are hard to come by.
Just to end on a positive note...
Johnny Harris from Vox is doing a good job with his Borders documentary. But he is no travel influencer. “One World Many Cultures” by Stuart Hirschberg and Terry Hirschberg is a wonderful book, but it's not a bestseller. Let's promote people whose work bring wisdom, add value to us and our world.
PS: I don't have affiliate links, I will not be earning a fee if you click on any link here. So please consider contributing to my project of going to every country to burn my passports to protest global apartheid and birthplace racism. Thank you.