A bit of a fight broke out yesterday in the travel blogosphere. Nomadic Matt wrote an article for the Huffington Post where he (I think) unintentionally picked on the 9 to 5 set and the soccer moms out there who are working to make money and only travel 2 weeks a year. In that post he was trying to encourage travel because of how it transformed his life. Mike Barish over at Gadling proceeded to go on a bit of a rant about Nomadic Matt’s article and all the encouragement (or snobbishness) of nomadic lifestyles that is present in the travel blogosphere.
I didn’t feel like a bad person after reading Nomadic Matt’s post, even though I sometimes do work overtime to help pay for my travel. But after reading Mike’s post I realized something that I was slowly realizing about myself and my relationship to blogs. There are a lot of people writing about their round-the-world trips and how they gave up their normal lives and are now location independent. But you’ll find there are bloggers in every niche of blogging doing what Nomadic Matt did in his post – making their way of travel sound like the only and best way to travel.
If you go by the blogs I read you then we should all be traveling around the world in first class (paid for by your frequent flyer program miles that you spend your time amassing) and staying in hostels to save money. No wonder I have so much trouble trying to pick which hotel to stay at in Edinburgh, I don’t know who I am! Seriously, with all these different bloggers coming at you with all this different styles and angles it can make you wonder if you’re doing it right.
I started to wonder if I should be quitting my job and becoming a digital nomad. But then I realized I like my job. Sometimes I love it, sometimes I hate it, but right now I like it and it’s allowing me to do other things that I enjoy doing too. In a few years I want to take off for a few months and do a longer more extensive trip, the kind where you do get to unplug from life a bit and really evaluate what you want to be doing and how you want to do it.
But I’ve also been able to answer some of these questions about myself as I go about daily life. Location independent is not for me, I like having a home to come back to after a trip. As much as I like to see new things and have new experiences I like coming home to my stuff and that place called home. I’m not into hostels. I like having the privacy of my own room and bathroom. I know it’s more expensive that way and when the time is right I can handle a hostel, but I couldn’t travel extensively in them. I like packaged tours. I sometimes travel alone and it’s lonely, especially if you’re not staying in hostels (which are a good place to meet other travelers) or are in a place that is not conducive to meeting people. With a packaged tour you get introduced to your new best friends for X number of weeks or days. You don’t have to like everyone or anyone, but while on the tour you’re with a group of people having a shared experience, you’re not lonely and maybe you’ll make a lifelong friend.
But even more important about Mike’s post on Gadling is not knowing who you are as a traveler (and you and I may evolve our styles and interests), but remembering to be respectful of other peoples style. If someone wants to spend a week drinking pina colladas and getting a tan on a beach, that’s ok. Or if someone else wants to eat at a McDonalds in every country they visit, let them enjoy the hunt even if it grosses you out. Even though Mike does pick on Matt and the nomadic travelers in his post, I think his post is about accepting different styles of traveling and not judging people who do it differently.