How I travel is changing and I couldn’t be happier.
When I went backpacking in 2016, everyone said things like “you definitely need to go travelling and get it out of your system”. Well, I don’t think you ever lose it: on a daily basis, my mind is filled with the destinations I want to see, the places I’ve been lucky enough to experience already and when I can make all these dreams a reality. But I’m starting to see the world differently and I’m optimistic that it will make my adventures even more meaningful. Without further ado, I’m going to jump in and share a few changes that you might start to notice in how I travel.
Bringing in sustainability
Making my love of travel healthier for the planet, environment and everything that inhabits it has become hugely important to me over the last year. I recently wrote an article about changes I’m making to live a more sustainable life but when you’re away from home, we all know that it’s easy for good habits to go out of the window. We hop on a plane and suddenly, we’re back to buying bottled water every day and buying disposable toiletries because it’s just so convienient. Well, 2018 is the year that I want to change that and if I can incorporate this philosphy across my blog, I just know that it would be a better and more meaningful place for you to visit.
From now on, my canvas shopping bag will be coming in my suitcase, I plan to invest in a travel friendly water bottle to cut down on waste and I’ll be supporting independent businesses wherever possible. Just as I love to eat at Liverpool’s many amazing independent restaurants, I’ve realised that it’s just as important to show support for people working to create something brilliant and unique in their community across the whole world. There some amazing hotels out there working to reduce their environmental impact in different ways – we stayed at the wonderful Almodovar Hotel in Berlin earlier this year which made me realise that it’s totally possible to be vegan and sustainable while boasting stunning interiors.
If you know me, you’ll know that food is one of my greatest loves and while my food photography leaves much to be desired right now, I’m determined to keep sharing great veggie-friendly restaurants from both home and abroad. If someone could teach me to take a decent flatlay, I’d love you forever. And FYI, while we all love an Instagrammable cafe, bedecked with plants and boasting a range of beautifully presented smoothie bowls, I found some of the best vegetarian food in South East Asia in unassuming, local eateries with plastic chairs and cramped tables.
Being more inclusive
At Traverse18, I heard Kate McCulley speak about how we need to use our influence wisely and her words have really stuck with me ever since. I find it hugely inspiring how she regularly uses her platform to address privilege and injustice and it’s something I’m determined to consider more. I’m constantly guilty of making statements like ‘everybody should travel’, without overtly recognising that I’m in a hugely fortunate position of being white and well-educated with a close-knit family and a British passport. As a hetrosexual, I can’t even comprehend what it must be like to know there are many countries in the world where it’s literally illegal to be yourself. And undoubtedly, I will keep making these mistakes because a lot of these concepts are still relatively new to me but what I want to do is learn.
As an example: a few months ago, the Dubai tourist board ran a huge influencer campaign and as I saw the flood of content come in, I wondered how many of those female bloggers had even considered where they were promoting. Behind the luxury hotels and glamorous malls, the UAE is a country where cross dressing and consentual gay sex can be punished with lengthy prison sentences and women have incredibly limited freedoms. That’s not to say that there can’t be value in visiting Dubai but in my opinion, it’s a case of ensuring that we’re equipped with the correct knowledge to wield our influence responsibly. In ignoring politics for our own benefit, what does that make us?
I had originally written this heading as travelling slower but I know that so many of us do have to work full time. I’m lucky enough to have been able to take a year out to travel at my own pace but for the majority of us, we’re restricted by annual leave and weeks of exploration aren’t always an option. But, being restricted on time doesn’t necessarily mean that you can only hit up the most popular hotspots in a particular destination. Those sights are famous for a reason; they make you gasp in awe at their mind blowing beauty (hey New Zealand), they have the best sunsets, they’re unapologetically proud of their heritage and history that make tourists flock there in droves. But, if we only see the sights that everyone else does and go to the popular Instagram-famous cafe, what do we have to add to the conversation as travel bloggers?
I mean, how arrogant is it to write a ‘Best Places to Eat in..’ guide when you’ve spent all of three days in the city? We might know some great places to eat but most of the time, we haven’t explored anywhere near enough to be creating that kind of content. But, knowing that those titles perform well on Google, it can be tempting to push out content and city guides that are virtually indistinguishable to other blogs. In the same vein, cramming as many countries as possible into a short holiday might allow you to scatch a load of new places off the map on your wall but will it bring something new or interesting to our content? Realistically, it probably wont.
One reason I loved backpacking so much was how it allowed Jamie and I to slow down, to savour our time just being in these places and forget about the must-do checklists that would have us missing the hidden details. Before I started this travel blog, I went to Mexico but the only part I saw was the inside of my 5* hotel. Can I really say that I’ve seen the country? Of course not – I have a long wishlist of things I want to do in Mexico! But, with more and more fashion bloggers moving into hotel collaborations, it makes me question what people are really looking for in a travel influencer. Is it all about the photo and ticking it off your bucket list, rather than wanting to experience the real place, full of people and history, behind it? For some, maybe it is, but I don’t want this to be the reason I travel anymore. For more on this, check out how does Instagram affect your travel?
This thought was cemented by hearing another Traverse18 talk by Andrew and Emily of Along Dusty Roads. They made me remember that it’s ok not to take ‘that’ photo in ‘that’ riad in Marrakech, that we don’t have to wear floaty dresses every day and basically that you can be a success by breaking the mould. In fact, I’d argue that being different is the only way you can truly create something meaningful. The world doesn’t need another cookie cutter website, following every guide on “how YOU can make $10,000,000 AND travel the world FOR FREE”. I don’t want to blend into the background: I want to inspire people in a very real way and if that never makes me a penny, then that’s absolutely fine.
To finish, I wanted to be completely and truly honest. When life gets a little hectic, it’s easy to disappear from the internet so that I can keep juggling all those other pins too. But even when that happens, blogging is at the forefront of my mind and above anything else, I want to be here writing about the thing I love the most. It’s easy to feel the pressure to be putting out content faster and faster but since I’ve allowed myself to really reflect on these principles above and take more time over writing, I hope it’s genuinely improved my posts. What I do know is that when I read what I’ve written in the last few months, I feel genuinely proud.
So, you might not see multiple new posts each week but what you will get are pieces that I’ve carefully thought out, crafted and know will bring some value – whether it’s a full cost breakdown of a holiday, stories from one of my favourite memories or a recommendation that I genuinely believe will improve your trip. And alongside this, the new themes that I’m increasingly weaving in will start to become more and more apparent. I just hope that you’ll stay with me for the ride because trust me, it’ll be a good’un.
How do you travel? What are the most important things to you when you think about seeing the world? Let me know in the comments!
Like it? Pin it!