It’s Sunday and it’s snowing. Whilst I write this my boyfriend’s got the footie on (yawn) and I’m sat on the sofa enjoying a slice of cake and sipping on a can of coke (note, it’s not a fancy looking coffee in a pretty slogan mug, which would be much more ‘blogger’ pretty right?) and I’m in one of those lets bash out a bit of a ranty type post kinda moods.
After reading a blog post from the lovely April yesterday morning about how much she is hating Instagram right now it got me thinking. Whilst I totally agree with her opinion and I also agree that I get a bit fed up fo seeing the same posed photos – usually a person standing pointing out to sea holding their hat like its about to blow away (thanks April) it made me realise that I’ve followed so many fake accounts lately that are just not ‘real‘!
It’s actually quite de-motivating in some ways and it’s time for a clear out I think.
Blogging and sharing so much personal stuff needs to be authentic. Nobody has a perfect life and I think portraying the “perfect” life on social media, taking on questionable sponsorships, or posting content only to please others is a very dangerous game. Every blogger falls victim to the emails to promote something that is not relevant for them, and we all try to figure out if there’s a way to word/photograph these opportunities so they fit, but for me it’s incredibly important to be as real and authentic on my blog and social media platforms as possible, so I have no choice but to turn these down. I blog predominantly about food and travel so when I get emails regarding mattresses, stair lifts or even car tyres (yes really) I have to turn them down… even though I really needed that new bouncy perfect mattress… 😉
Sponsored content is fantastic and I’m clearly all for it. Blogging can be big business at the end of the day. But between those sponsored posts I like to have non-sponsored posts too. Posts like this one are perfect. Whilst sitting here thinking about what to write, and there was a moment where I fell for the so and so wrote about this, and so did that other blogger too type trap. Which I hate. I’ve mentioned it before and whilst it’s sometimes really hard to think of something original in an industry so saturated with talented people, I don’t want to write about the same type of stuff every other blogger does, I strive to be me and write about what I want to write about.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve discovered some absolutely corkers lately in the blogging world and I have a regular daily habit of reading their new posts like it’s my morning news, and the point of this post isn’t to slate anybody’s blog or styles or writing choices. The point of this is to remind us to be ourselves and to stay ‘real’. Ultimately it’s your blog, your choice, but genuine real-life content is amazing and most relatable.
They’re real people. With real thoughts, feelings, experiences and opinions. I love when my favorite bloggers get a little raw by exposing a snippet of their life. It shows vulnerability, which means they’re relatable. There’s that word again, relatable.
So, when my boyfriend rolled his eyes and called me a word I can’t write here… or can I? Well.. it started with T and ended with T… that should be a big enough hint, about my suggestion to write a ’40 Countries by the time I’m 40′ post I realised he was bloomin right and it’s not me at all. It could in fact look a little braggy and not show the true side of how hard I work to get the travel opportunities and holidays I do. Plus, who cares? Really, who… cares how many countries I’ve travelled to or if I set a challenge to travel to more by a certain age.
Oh yes… I’m nearly fuck**g 40! That’s some real-life stuff right there 😉
He doesn’t know I agree with him at this point of writing. I did of course snort at his comments and pretended he wasn’t right. He is. Counting countries isn’t really a thing is it? I’ve been to Sweden for one day and whilst strictly speaking yes, I’ve been to Sweden, I haven’t really have I? You can’t learn about a country’s culture, hidden gems and all its amazing foods in 24 hours, it’s just not possible.
And what if I go back to a certain country more than once? I’ve been to Italy so many times now, its my favourite place and I’m pretty sure I’ll be going back plenty more. Are people then going to start counting cities and it turning into one big competition? I hope not.
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I sat here and reminded myself why I love to travel and why I absolutely adore writing about it and this quote, written by me for Clickstay’s Bloggers to Watch post sums it up perfectly.
“For me personally I don’t travel to just tick a box on an imaginary bucket-list, I travel because I love to broaden my experiences and create new memories. I also find that each time I get to see a new country I learn so much more about how people live, cultural differences and find that it helps to develop my knowledge and intelligence of the world. I’m fascinated with trying new foods and I love that feeling of the first morning of waking up in a new country, stepping onto the balcony and admiring the exciting view in front of me. It’s escapism pure and simple.”
It is tough when you tell yourself off for going back to the same place over and over though whilst in the back of your mind thinking I should be writing about somewhere new for my readers, and seeking out new cultures and experiences.
I haven’t visited a vast amount of countries. I can count on one hand how many times I’ve been long haul, but what does it matter? The places I go back to I learn more, explore deeper and I become so familiar with them that they almost, almost feel like I could live there.
To some extent I can understand why full-time travel bloggers do share their numbers and targets. I suppose it will help brands understand the extent of the bloggers travel experience and I suspect it makes sense in that regard. I also think if done in a more natural way, less random and with a back-story it can work. A blogger I love called Becca (mentioned above) does it perfectly! Her post, which you can read here is a great way on how to share where you’ve travelled and talk about the numbers thing, and her quote is just spot-on – “Travelling is not about the numbers though. It sounds wanky but I genuinely believe it’s about the journey, the discovery, the experience and the knowledge.”
I’ve only been travelling since I was 17 years old. Before that I’d never set foot out of England. Not even to Scotland or Wales. I turned 20 and I still hadn’t been very far at all. A school trip to France and a few cheesy hen parties in Turkey and Greece just about covered it. And although I dipped my toe in the water with a few European holidays it wasn’t until I met my boyfriend Steve in 2010 that I truly got bitten by the travel bug. In the 8 years we’ve been together we’ve managed to fit in a lot of travel and including our long weekends I’ve managed to visit 31 countries which is incredible and makes me feel very very lucky.
You won’t find me prancing around on a beach with a totally set up, point-my-toes pose. Nor will I ever air-brush my photos, unless I have a gigantic spot on my chin, I do remove those, that’s my limit though.
Travelling is an adventure, not a competition. We shouldn’t be rushing to travel through different countries just to get a bigger number. Just be yourself and go where you naturally feel drawn to or where the opportunity arises. Keep it real and authentic. If you do like to count your countries and talk about it, then so be it. Just be real, and be classy about it 🙂
I’ll still count countries but I certainly won’t be flaunting it around like a status symbol or setting a challenge to travel to more countries. I’ll be doing it purely because I like numbers and it helps me feel organised. Also, I still pinch myself that I have managed to travel so much. If you’d have told me this at 17 I never would have believed you.
So, if you read this Steve, thanks for the reality check! You. Were. Right – God i hate saying that to him! ha-ha… Has the football finished yet?
What do you think? Do you think there are benefits to trying to visit a certain number of countries in a particular time limit? Who are your favourite ‘real’ bloggers?