My travel evolution: one of the many reasons why you shouldn’t be sorry for the type of traveler that you are
I am writing this today because something is bothering me: our entitlement. Everyone you know is traveling today and I feel like there is an ongoing competition where everybody is forced to participate in.
A reader asked me to make a 7-day itinerary for (insert country here). Though I don’t really do short-term travel, I did it because I value people who spend time in reading this blog. The only way I can give back is to answer their questions and help them achieve the perfect travel they always imagined. So, I wrote the post only to receive comments such as, “7 days is short,” “that’s not enough,” etc you know, all those entitlements that made the reader think twice about her trip.
“Should I add more days, Trisha? I really don’t have that much time and money.”
“No. You shouldn’t feel bad about these comments because you are different. Do what you want and stick to your plans. I will help you make it work. Never mind the comments.”
Backpacker, tourist, long-term traveler, digital nomad, whatever we call ourselves – there is no competition. The type of traveler that we are will evolve as life unfolds more surprises for us. Don’t be sorry because there are no levels in traveling. Embrace it. Live with it. Evolve with it. Soar with it. Fly with it. Rise above it.
What’s in this post?
Chapter 1: The Student Abroad
I didn’t know what to feel when I learned that I got in a Fashion School in Milan. What?! I’m going away for a long time? Without mum?!!!?! I grew up in a middle-class family and was never out of the confines of my home. As a child, I was free to do whatever I want but me and my family decide everything together.
First, I pat myself on the back and said, “Look at you, btch, you fcking did it!” I don’t remember clearly but I am pretty sure I didn’t feel scared. In fact, I wanted to leave right away! The acceptance letter came first so you probably know what’s next: visa application, the scarier part.
Fortunately, the University helped in the visa processing so I didn’t really find it difficult.
Chapter 2: The Weekender
Chapter 3: The One-Week Traveler
One of the inspirations of my Asian trip is my addiction to football. I grew up playing the sport so I know very well that it’s not a thing from where I am from. I’m from a basketball country so people don’t rave about football so much.
When Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal announced their Asian Tour in 2012, I knew that was the push I needed. Their tour dates were so vague but my friends and I decided to book a ticket anyway. We booked a 10-day trip to Malaysia but the tour is only for 3 days! Tickets were very expensive but my job as a Freelance Fashion Stylist/Consultant kept me afloat. We spent most of the days stalking the players, going to conferences, chasing after tour buses at the same time, we also had a blast in exploring Kuala Lumpur on our own.
I was traveling with two girls (friends from home) and from that experience, we knew it was so easy to travel together so we planned more trips: the following month, we were in Bangkok for a week. They have full-time jobs so if our schedules don’t meet, I did other trips by myself to other Asian countries. It was a slow evolution from being comfortable with traveling with friends to finding my own dynamics in traveling by myself.
Chapter 4: Young and In Love
We went to Africa and after three months, he told me that he needed to miss me. It was a nicer way of saying “I’m breaking up with you because I’m sick of seeing your face every day.” I was devastated. I didn’t know what to do. We already had plans of moving to Buenos Aires (where his family lives) and without him, I felt stuck. From booking tickets to finding hotels to going to bus stations to asking directions – he did everything in our trip and I don’t know if I will be able to do all those by myself.
“Go home,” my mother’s voice seemed to echo, while I was looking for flights to I-don’t-know-where. If I went home, I would have all the help I needed to cope. I would be surrounded by a loving community, and after a few days, I would be okay. This time, I chose to be okay because of me. I wanted to help myself and hopefully, discover something along the way. So I decided to travel more.
I still wasn’t sure about anything but there was a voice in my head that was saying, “Go. Don’t fear. Everything will be okay.” Using my last money on the African trip, I booked a one-way ticket to Sao Paulo. I knew that voice was telling me something. Something great will happen to those who try.
Chapter 5: The Young, Wild and Broke Solo Female Traveler
I continued my journey to Central America and circled back to South America. I was still very upset from what happened with me and my ex in Africa. I have to admit it took me a long time to cope but I was doing it slowly. All my efforts and energies were put into the blog. Time passed and until one day, I came to a point where I no longer identify myself from that break-up.
I traveled far and wide while finding means to extend my financial capabilities. I volunteered, did work exchange, stayed with local families, stayed in filthy hostels, met a lot people with different travel personality types etc but I was very very happy. I just didn’t say that I was a different person – I felt it in every vein of my body. The journey definitely changed how I look at life. Best of all, I became unbreakable. If I’ve gone through that horrible break-up by myself, I can go through anything. That’s what I told myself every day until I had nothing left to fear. I moved forward. There was no other way.
Chapter 6: The Best Luxury Travel Blogger
I realised that moving to a professional platform is not enough to go to the direction of success in the business of blogging. Since the blog wasn’t earning money yet, I had to take freelance jobs online (VA, social media manager, client relations, etc) but I was working for someone. My hours were monitored. The set-up didn’t allow me to give more time to the blog so I quit. I resigned from all my online jobs to be a full-time blogger.
More time were spent in the blog and this is the real take off. I was invited to media trips by Tourism Boards, advertisers were lining up to be published on the blog, brands were contacting me to be featured on my Instagram and Facebook. Everything was good. Those days that I was sitting for weeks in an apartment in Cancun paid off. Those months of not really traveling (I was in a different country, at least) actually worked.
I graduated from hostels (because of age) and started getting complimentary stays in 5-star hotels. On top of that, they are also paying money for every valuable content I made. Everything was really good!
I was even nominated Best Luxury Travel Blog even if I didn’t really focus my writing on luxury travel. I continued to write stories. I told them to withdraw the nomination because I don’t want people to be mislead. I don’t do luxury travel at all. The Travel Blog Awards Head rebutted and said, “don’t take it too literally. We chose you to be in this category because you depict that traveling is a luxury. Your stories are very inspiring and we really think you deserve the nomination.”
I accepted it but the concept was still blurred to me. By the end of the voting period, I won.
Chapter 7: The One Who Found A Home
In August 2016, Vibe Israel, a non-profit organisation invited me to come to an all-expense paid trip to Israel. Their goal is to eradicate the bad connotations about Israel through Destination Marketing Organisation (DMO). Their mission is to bring authoritative bloggers to explore Israel for a week, hoping that by the end of the trip, they will end up writing/saying something good about the country.
I didn’t just write. I stayed. The day my flight departs to Mexico City (from Tel Aviv), I told the organiser that I am staying. That I am sorry. That I can pay for the ticket they booked for me. That I really really really want to stay.
The last minute decision was cool to them. In fact, they were happy that I chose to stay. “If you don’t want to leave, then we must be doing something right.”
I rented an apartment as normal people do but felt that I was living life backwards. I even planned to write something like: “I left my life of travel to live in Tel Aviv” but my status here is not that clear yet.
I still have the tourist visa which requires me to leave Israel every 3 months for a visa-run. I already did 4 visa-runs since August: Jordan, Georgia & Armenia, Sri Lanka and Morocco. I still ended up going back to Tel Aviv after those trips. I couldn’t believe I was booking 2-way tickets!
At this very moment I am writing this, I am surrounded by boxes and a heck of a mess. My boyfriend and I (nope, this is not the Argentine guy) are moving together to a new apartment. Believe me, I am terrified. This country is so expensive, I don’t have any resident status here, I can’t vote here and I moving with someone who I am only dating for 9 months. There is a myriad of emotions that I have to face but every time I am scared, I try to remember all the crazy things I’ve done and all the hardships I was able to conquer. Writing this piece gives me a little refresher course of all the things I did by convincing myself that I am brave.
Why am I telling you this story?
I want you to know that your travel preferences will evolve as you do it. Some of us are rushing to jump to Chapter 4 when we haven’t really done Chapter 1 so do it little by little.
But most of all, I want us to realise to never question other people’s kind of travel. I really feel bad when someone is telling her story about a one-week travel in (insert country here) only to receive comments like, “that’s not enough to know a country, blah. blah. blah.”
Some of us are even putting a hype on the backpacker vs tourist discussion. It’s not relevant!
When someone is asking for a recommendation on Facebook, I feel like we are sharing our knowledge about a certain place to publicly boast. Not to help. I just want to see this less from all of us because there is no competition here. No one is joining the race to traveling 100+ countries in the world. We want everyone to succeed in their travel endeavours so let’s avoid challenging people’s truths.
Different humans, different dynamics. I wish we’ll all accept that fact.
A few things I learned from this evolution:
- We don’t have to have the same experiences. When giving advice to fellow travelers, give an insight that will fit. If you visited (insert country here) for one month as a long-term traveler, then only provide information that will fit the person asking you. Do not discourage them with their plans. You might now know it but the words, “that’s too short,” “you won’t have fun with that period of time,” etc will give another person second thoughts. You are encouraging them to question their own plans. I know this because I used to do this, too. A LOT.
- There is no competition. So what if your best friend has been to 32 countries and you’ve only been to 5? Is there a problem with that? If we don’t want to be challenged with our truths and our travel style, we should also do the same to others.
- Embrace the type of traveler you are. I may be a long-term traveler, she may be a weekend traveler, he may be a Digital Nomad but each of us have things that happened to only us. There are a lot of types of travelers in Tourism. People can relate but there are things you experienced that others didn’t. Always remember that.
- Whenever I am scared to do something new or evolve to another level of traveling, I tell myself I am brave – and brave can take you places. Note that in all the discoveries I had above, I always had the mindset of “that’s easy” and “I can do that” even if there’s no way it’s true. There’s no one else who will motivate you, but YOU.