What Travel Bloggers Don’t Want You To Know About #Wanderlust

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This post is going to have to start-off with one of the most first-world, privileged, spoiled sentences ever uttered, but here goes…traveling is hard. Now that we’ve gotten that out-of-the-way, don’t think for a second that we’re not grateful for our lives and our ability to travel the world. But the truth of the matter still remains that being a full-time traveler is a far cry away from the pristine images you see online.

A perfectly curated Instagram feed can make any destination look like it’s worth your time. Angles, filters and clever captions draw you into a moment, a sheer still-shot taken from a lengthy movie that you actually never get to view in entirety.

Before you drown in jealousy over that blogger/influencer/Youtuber who blows up your timeline with stunning pictures from a country you’ve never even heard of, we want to talk with you about the downfalls of being #wanderlust.

Travelers Aren’t on Vacation

Our backpacking trip through Southeast Asia was anything but perfect. It was uncomfortable, hard and sometimes frustrating. There were times when we wanted to just pack it up & go home (even though at the time we didn’t have a home). There were nights we had to sleep under the sky (literally in the Philippines we had to sleep on a bench with dogs because our bus dropped us off in the middle of nowhere) we grasped our belongings and made do, days we spent walking around aimlessly with our heavy backpacks because we lost both of our phones to the ocean in Thailand, there was countless bug bites, questionable street food & approximately 3 missed flights… But between all of that there was so much BEAUTY. We learned so much about ourselves, our limits were tested daily & we came out stronger than ever because that is what traveling is about! Traveling is more than an Instagram feed and selfies! It’s not about just crossing destinations off of list, it’s about GROWTH! We are so unbelievably grateful that we get to live this lifestyle and share it with one another… Now onto a new home in a new country!

A post shared by P E R R I & M A R T I N 🇺🇸🇩🇰 (@princeandthepear) on

The idea that travelers are on some sort of lifetime vacation is pretty absurd. A vacation, by definition, is a short-recreational escape from normal life. If you embark on a year-long backpacking trip through South America, that is not a vacation, that is your new “normal life.”

When you go on vacation, it allows you to clear your mind, enjoy your temporary surroundings and maybe even forget about your problems for that week or two. When you are traveling, those problems come right along with you.

The ups and downs of everyday life can’t be pushed aside when you are a long-term traveler. That means that if you find yourself depressed, irritated or upset near a shanty town in a foreign place, you have to deal with that on your own. You have to keep those feelings of isolation at bay while you try to navigate through a culture completely different from your own. It’s a lot to deal with.

While you are on vacation you might find yourself spending most of your time on guided tours, at the beach or simply staying put at your all-inclusive resort. As a traveler, you have to come to terms with spending copious amounts of time in transit, on smelly buses and trains, squashed on long-haul flights or waiting inside the border control and airport food courts.


Want to learn how to save on your next adventure? Check out our “Slick Traveler” video here for all the juicy details!


Lots of Hype- Not a lot Happening

If you want to see a random, old,  feral-cat ridden alley in Italy made to seem like the most quaint and adorable spot to sit and have a picnic, just take a scroll through a hot ticket Instagram account. We are living in a digital age where people are willing to try to make anything seem interesting.

Sure, these people get to create dazzling pictures that may inspire others to get out there and travel.. but what is it really doing to the tourism industry?

For a couple of weeks, videos and pictures of a Mexican lake with hot pink tides went viral. Every blogger, influencer and photographer was rushing to this area to snap a photo of the creamy, Pepto-Bismol water. After further research, most bloggers could hardly even pretend that they had an enjoyable time traveling to see this lake.

First of all, new rules and regulations were put in place to protect the lake, which meant tourists weren’t actually allowed to get in the water. So to be clear, these content creators traveled out to this lake to pose in front of the water… aaaaand that’s about it. One blogger even said… “Yeah, there’s not much to do once you get there, but you can snap a pretty cool Instagram pic!”

Is this what travel has become? Have we become a society that literally travels for the ‘gram? Not only is it sad, but now you have an entire subculture of people who are promoting spots that literally offer nothing but a played out photo-op.



Checklist Travel is a Joke

The explosion of the travel movement has turned what once was the chance to learn about new cultures and societies into a rat race to see who can see as many countries in the shortest amount of time.

You’ve seen the click-bait headlines, “Girl sees 52 countries in 1 month,” “First man to venture to every sovereign nation sets foot on the moon.” Yes, it’s amazing to say that you’ve got a passport that’s been around the block a few times, but what about the true value in traveling?

If you are on a hunt for checking countries off of a list… are you even talking with the locals? Are you veering off of the beaten path? Have you tried the food… no really tried it and learned why the people of this region eat this way?

Or do you merely stop for a picture, upload it to Instagram with enough time to add a meaningful caption from Gandhi, Buddha or Taylor Swift?



Destination Disappointment

Seventh Wonder of the World Status- Chichén Itzá #SeeMexico #stopdropyoga

A post shared by P E R R I & M A R T I N 🇺🇸🇩🇰 (@princeandthepear) on

When traveling long-term, you are going to journey to cities, villages or entire countries that just are not for you. That can be really disheartening when you’ve planned out an itinerary that falls short of your expectations. Any traveler who doesn’t want to give into the feeling of defeat has to keep a flexible attitude.

After spending nearly two weeks in the Philippines we were so overwhelmed with the amount of money and time we were wasting. We blew an obscene amount of money on transport, miserable accommodations and lackluster food.

Although the islands of the Philippines offer crystal-clear waters and white sand beaches, we just couldn’t cope with the lack of infrastructure. Soooo… we lost the money from both of our flights to Boracay and instead paid to go to Hong Kong.


For our Trendsetter’s Guide to Hong Kong- click here!


Could we have just dealt with it? Sure of course. But this leg of our backpacking excursion was only the beginning of a trip that was set to last 4 more months. We wasted loads of money in constantly resetting and rescheduling, but sometimes that’s what you have to do for peace of mind.

On a positive note, there were instances where we changed our plans simply because we couldn’t bear leaving the city we were in. We spent 2 months in Hong Kong and Laos because we absolutely fell in love with everything from the culture to the food.

Wanderlust Final Thoughts

Travel is what you make it. Some places are all about the sites, others are about adventure… and most are about the people. It’s up to you to really look into yourself to understand what it is that you want out of your trip.

In a world full of updates, likes, followers and subscribers…. challenge yourself to have a real experience. Whether it’s painful, uncomfortable, scary or completely exhausting, make it authentic.

Do you want to know what it really feels like to be wanderlust? We want to share the secret side of travel that bloggers don't tell you about.

[DISCLAIMER: THIS BLOG POST CONTAINS AFFILIATE LINKS. WE MAY EARN A SMALL COMMISSION TO FUND OUR TRAVELS IF YOU USE THESE LINKS. YOU WILL NOT BE CHARGED EXTRA, AND WE’LL GET TO SHARE MORE STORIES… AND OF COURSE, ALL OPINIONS ARE OUR OWN!]

 

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  • I have a close friend who recenly became single and has been traveling like you talk about and she has said some very similar things. She said she wouldn’t replace the experience but it can get very lonely and uncomfortable and sometimes its downright miserable. I will say, thankfully, in all my personal travel I’ve had fantastic experiences though!

  • I like traveling and going on vacation for a few days. After that I’m totally over it and ready to go back home. So I can only imagine the pros and cons of traveling full time. However, the memories you create has to be priceless and worth it.

  • This it’s the harsh reality of the world we are living in.. I see so many people on Instagram who don’t take a moment to enjoy the destination they are at but just get busy in taking those perfect looking pictures!

  • I do look for travel bloggers for inspiration when I’m visiting a new location. I would hope that their goal is to provide a new spot for me to check out that is worthwhile. As a reader, I guess I need to do more research and rely on multiple sources. Thanks for the insights.

    • Yes… that is my goal as well, to really inform readers! However, you definitely have to do your research because you just never know! Thanks for reading!

  • Very nice description about what travel bloggers don’t want to know. Destination Disappointment really happens as some shots are taken aerial which no one can see.

  • I can see how traveling could be hard. You have to figure out where to stay, where to eat, what to see, you may not speak the language, you don’t know the ins and outs. That being said, it does seem really romantic to just pack everything up and travel!

    • I’m not going to lie.. there are parts of travel that are completely amazing! But definitely some that are hard.. thanks for reading!

  • Many of these points definitely resonate. I love traveling, but the truth is it’s not always pretty and perfect as a perfectly curated Instagram or post may seem. Good insight into this! And I totally agree those checklists are a bit superficial feeling (ex: Girl sees 100 countries in 100 days.) While I admit I track the countries I’ve visited, and some I’ve spent a day in, others a week or a month, I think it’s important to try to really explore a place and experience its culture, people, etc. rather than do it for the check of a box.

    • I’m not going to lie.. I get excited when I think about how many countries I’ve been too.. but it should never be some sort of competition! Thank you so much for checking in!

  • Great post, I really appreciated your honesty!

    It’s so true, social media has made the travel lifestyle appear so glamorous and perfect, when in reality it can be anything but!

    I also backpacked through the Philippines and I totally get what you mean, it was intense! I’m so glad I experienced it, and pushed through when it got tough.

    Thanks for this, it’s good to know there’s other travellers out there who are taking the time to enjoy cultures and countries for more than bragging rights and instagram posts 😉

    • Thank you so much for this comment. Yes the Philippines is NO walk in the park, but I’m so glad we experienced it!

      It’s always refreshing when I read blog posts that actually talk about cultures and not just hot spots for pictures! Thanks again!!!

  • Love this! It’s quite scary to see how much IG has changed the travel movement, though no one can conclude yet whether it’s for the better. The pretty shots we see on IG do nothing to speak about the actual difficulties of adjusting to new places, though maybe in reality, those struggles have another place such as Medium or blogposts itself. I relish taking in the entire experiences, regardless!

    • Thanks for your comment Kristine! I totally agree… we have no idea what the outcome of social media on all of our lives will be. All we can do is continue to have our own authentic experiences. But I do agree, every medium has its own purpose!

  • Really accurate post! As a part-time blogger who aims to turn nearly each trip I take into some sort of post, I feel like this commitment has shaped and changed how I travel. As you said – it’s not only a vacation. It’s become work too! (Though I do love it!)

  • I suppose for me, besides seeing places that are so outside of my experience and tasting wonderful food I’ve never tried before, what I like is the challenge that you describe so well here. The day-to-day of taking basic care of yourself: finding a decent place to stay where you’re safe and comfortable, keeping yourself healthy, getting from place to place in a system you’re not familiar with. That stuff is, as you say, a first-world, privileged issue — after all, you’ve CHOSEN to take on that challenge. Yet it’s one of the things I like most about travel. Having said that, sometimes it’s just too much trouble. Hong Kong or Japan or pretty much anywhere in Western Europe are easy places to travel, with good public transportation, etc., so when I travel alone they appeal to me most.

    • I love your insight Rachel. I really like how you find the beauty in the actual journey. Those day to day things are challenging but those are what make us stronger as people and travelers. For me, I just like knowing that I am coming back to a clean and safe bed… If I can have that, I can deal with a lot more “on the road.”

      Thank you so much for reading and giving some insight!

  • This is so well written and so so true! I”m really glad someone finally said it. And that too, in such an articulate way. Travelling can actually be insane, emotional rollercoaster huh?

    • Haha! Thank you! Traveling is the most amazing thing.. that can also be daunting, we don’t all have to pretend it’s amazing all the time!

  • Absolutely loved this post! I’m new to the world of travel blogging and am spending my last free summer, after University, before entering the working world soaking up as much as I can and enjoying writing about it to share it with friends and family! However, sometimes I find myself disheartened that a place isn’t all its ‘instagrammed’ to be or that I just can’t find the inspiration from a certain location to write. I always wondered whether other people felt this way, and yes I felt like this was a ‘privileged problem’ that isn’t particularly fair to voice or write about but you’ve definitely given me some food for thought and some metaphorical balls to tackle this issue more so than I had before! x

    • Haha Anouska! I’ve literally gone through the same thing! I love to travel and I love to share stories, pictures and opinions, but I was like… wait can all of these travel bloggers really do this EVERY DAY and still feel pumped up to travel? I wish you luck on your upcoming travels before starting work.

      I feel like travel is such a touchy subject because it is a privilege. It’s taboo to complain about something that we’re so fortunate to do… but it is still valid nonetheless!! Thanks for reading!

  • This is something ever dear to me. Five years ago I did my big ass 9 month non-stop stint around the world without the likes of IG and chasing FB likes, to validate to trip I was taking. The trip was for me and without an audience. I feel like sure, IG and social media itself is a great platform but ultimately, who are we travelling for – an audience or yourself?

    I love writing and love the adventures but in today’s world, it is questionable upon why people choose to travel and out it up online, do they actually live and breathe the moment or are they seeking fame?

    • Julia.. yes I couldn’t have said it better. Sometimes when I am going to a museum, or site that I’m not even interested in.. I’m like who am I traveling for right now? Your trip sounds amazing!

  • So true!!! As a remote worker and digital nomad, I’m actually never on vacation. I don’t think I’ve ever been on a vacation where I can clear my mind because I’m always still working. And yes yes yes to going somewhere just to get a pic and it’s anticlimactic. I admit I’ve def done that myself for the ‘gram and I hate that I have.

    • Samantha! I’ve done it too and it was sort of worthless you know? Afterwards it feels empty because all you got was a picture that represents a moment that you weren’t even fond of! I don’t remember the last time I’ve been on vacation.

  • I love your perspective on the over glorified notion of #wanderlust – but I think the Instapic Travelers should have a different name and the kind of people they encourage. Too many times when I have tried to organize a culturally inspiring but planless trip, my travel companion was not interested. They only wanted proof that they were there. It fellow shallow, problems arose because they weren’t flexible, and most of these Instagram inspired travelers think they should be catered to. #Wandering was an expensive lesson but cleared up for me what I and the other person is actually looking for. Thanks for the post!

    • Thank you so much Christine! You are totally right those people are in their own category. I like to surround myself with people who are looking for a real and authentic experience. There’s nothing wrong with taking photos to capture the moment but at least be present!

  • Love this honesty and truthfulness. I couldn’t agree more that travel isn’t always what it seems on social media. Sometimes I spend way too long taking photos and miss the actual moment of being somewhere. It’s good to remember that the real reason to travel is to experience things and people and learn more to help us grow as people.

    • I’ve definitely been there as well! Where me and Martin are sitting there trying to get the perfect picture and we lost out on the actual moment! Thanks for reading…. and yes we always try and remember the true value of travel!

  • Some of your points really hit home! Traveling is rewarding on so many levels, but there are also some things travelers encounter that can make it challenging like language barriers, cultural differences, etc. Instagram pictures don’t show the 360 degree view!

  • Well for me it’s all about the experience whether good or bad and I always document it on my blog or social media platforms. Traveling is all about embracing the moment. I never really look into people’s pictures in any other way but as “awesome picture”. For me video captures more of the vibe, mood and a louder experience. It’s has been all for show at times and we all have been guilty of presenting a false attraction.

    • That’s a great point. I really want to start doing more video, but for more video distracts me even more than taking pictures when it comes to being in the moment. Thanks for reading!

    • Thank you for reading Cathy! Yes Instagram can be a bit too much, but I think people are even looking for more authenticity on that medium now..

  • This resonated with me on a very base level. I love traveling. Don’t get me wrong but ever since I started writing about things changed. I had to get the details right. I had to get the right snap. If I hadn’t clicked a snap that was worse. It gets to you slowly but steadily.

  • I can totally relate to this. With all the social media obsession, sometimes we’re forced to turn places we absolutely hate into something that seems appealing — which just feels totally inauthentic. I guess the instagram phase will pass eventually…

  • Really good article and I totally agree with what you say.
    Especially the “travel for the gram” thing… I don’t get how you can travel somewhere JUST to take a pic of yourself and post it on insta (except when you’re a prof photographer of course or if you’re just really into photography).
    I’ve lived in Mexico for about a year and when I saw the pink lake on pictures, I fell in love and HAD TO go there. However, after doing some research and seeing more realistic pics (not the overly photoshoped ones) I started to doubt. Is it really worth is spending so much money (I travel on a budget) just to go there and not even see real pink water and be surrounded by people all the time? So we decided to just explore some other parts of the country that aren’t pink but still really nice. That’s what traveling is about; having a good time and doing what you want.

    • Cristina! I lived in Mexico and went through the exact same thing! We considered renting a car and going out to see it… and then after doing our research decided to discover other things in Mexico! Thank you so much for reading.. and for sharing your perspective!

  • I love this post so much. It’s refreshing to hear about the “ugly” side of traveling because it’s something we rarely hear about from travel bloggers. That said, I feel like the conversation is opening up more – thank god for transparency! While traveling is such a privilege and an incredible experience, it’s exhausting, it’s a lot of work, and it’s not a year-long adventure where every day is a wanderlust-filled dream. Thanks for sharing your perspective 🙂

    • Casey you are totally right! The conversation is opening up more.. and people are searching for transparency now more than ever.. hopefully this continues!

  • Hey guys!
    I just read your last post ”what travelblogger don’t want you to know about” and I think it’s super interesting. Very good point of View.
    However, my plan is still becoming a long-term traveler. But sometimes dreams are too perfect.
    After this article, I am aware that long-term traveler means start a new normal life (but always different)
    Anyways I prefer a normal life traveling than staying in my confort-zone !
    What do you think?
    Thanks for sharing. I will keep reading you guys 😘

  • Hi to both of you! I just would like to tell you that I really enjoyed this post, I have also a passion for knowing different places, cultures, for traveling; and sounds very honest, pragmatic and thoughtful what you wrote about your experiences. Thank you. BR from Barcelona