O'Connell Monument in Dublin

Travel Truths Are Closer Than They Appear

Posted on Posted in My Thoughts and Musings, Travel
Iconic Twelve Apostles rock formations along The Great Ocean Road
Iconic Twelve Apostles rock formations along The Great Ocean Road – travel truths?  there are only eight left!

We all know the saying “Objects are Closer than they Appear” well a recent conversation with a friend made me think about Travel Truths. My friend just returned from the West Coast, a trip that seemed fabulous by her Facebook photos.  I asked her about the trip and she said “it was horrible”….I looked at her and said “but your Facebook photos?”.  She said she basically felt the need to post a happy status and happy photos during her trip despite the fact that it wasn’t fun.  She wasn’t lying per se – those photos do capture fleeting minutes of the trip when everyone was happy and posed for the photo. But this made me wonder, why do we feel compelled to feed the social media monster (don’t get me started on emojis)?

Every time I look at my Instagram feed, I am instantly jealous – jealous that I’m not on the beach in Sydney, jealous that my lunch/dinner/dessert doesn’t look half as appealing as the one posted in #foodporn or #foodiechats, jealous that I’m in my office working while others are having fun – but are they?  Are they culling the best photos to curate an online “brand” image?  Is this just another mask we are all wearing online to show our best selves to be accepted?  To garner a ton of likes?  To help our self-esteem?

Passenger side mirror view of the sunset along the Great Ocean Road
Passenger side mirror view of sunset along the Great Ocean Road

Social Media Happy

I’ve fallen into the “happy online life” for short periods after a family/friends intervention last year. The rainy, cloudy day photos from Dublin, London and Australia (almost two months worth of clouds and rain) were depressing everyone on Facebook and people felt sorry for me.  There are only so many times you can read comments like “hope it gets better” followed by twenty likes, “fingers crossed for sun”, “better days ahead”. Was I looking for pity by posting the photos?  I’m not sure, maybe it was good to be noticed but I was posting the truth so how can that be bad?  Was I trying to make others feel gloomy?  Not at all.  Actually the Sydney Opera House still shines in the rain. Lucky for me, I had a 1/2 day of sun so I exhausted myself chasing the sun in Sydney.

Sydney Opera House in Rain
Sydney landmarks in the rain – Opera House and Harbour Bridge
View of Sydney Opera House from the Harbour bridge
Awesome view of the Opera House and a bit of traffic in the harbour

I was sharing my trip as it was happening – isn’t that what social media is about – the here and now (unless we #latergram it)?  I’m learning it really isn’t about the bad stuff, people want, rather need, to feel better about life, to have something to dream about, look forward to and strive for – fair enough.  But shouldn’t we share the good, bad and ugly of our travels?  Isn’t that the truth? Or are we ok to look at the truth in the rear view mirror, knowing it’s close but not really acknowledging it?

My safari camp tent with ensuite bathroom travel truths
My safari camp tent with ensuite bathroom – travel truths? this was a bit of luxury having my private bathroom (without a roof but still)
Safari tent outdoor bathroom travel truths
Bigger than the tent! The ensuite with nature – travel truths? the bucket shower – you can’t hide that!

You Can’t Handle the Travel Truth!

The truth?  What is the travel truth?  Travel blogs, sites like TripAdvisor and other review sites have flourished as they try to let people share their travel truth. That moment in time when life was great or it sucked. That glossy hotel room photo….Well, it actually looks like this!  The pristine beach photo?  Sure you can get that after cropping out the trash on the beach.  Who and What can you trust? This is the million dollar question in Travel – so many different vendors, products, experts, experiences and opinions, too much money in the mix often clouding the results – it’s what makes travel such a fantastic and frustrating business and/or experience for everyone.

Elephant on Safari South Africa Sabi Sands
Elephants too hungry to notice us – no rear view mirror needed!  Up close and personal on safari
"The Famine" installation at night along the River Liffey in Dublin
“The Famine” at night in Dublin was even more powerful in my opinion after the rain with the clouds

For me, I’ve share the good, the bad and the ugly.  There are sunny photos of Sydney and rainy photos of Sydney (after my intervention I’m trying to follow the 80/20 rule of sunny over rainy even if the actual days are 20/80).  I’ve talked about my Travel Meltdown in Capetown (not pretty), my travel doldrums, my Nightmare Travel Day from Paris to London and a few bad hotels and Airbnbs along the way.  It’s good to be honest, to be real and to show the reality of travel (plus it saves me therapy costs to write about it and process it). It’s not always sunshine and roses, there are delays, cancellations, missed connections which is why I carry heaps of chocolate in my bag for emergencies.  For every lounge visit, there is the sitting on the yucky floor at the gate when you find the good wi-fi spot or an outlet. For every quick security check (see I can be funny) – I rarely have a quick (or easy) security check – I’m always getting the patdown around the world traveling solo.   The stories that come out of that are usually quite memorable, I became a solo traveler from one of those “sad stories”.

Notre Dame Paris
Notre Dame Paris – travel truths – it’s crowded inside!  Wait in line and then slowly follow the crowds around inside

Travel Truths – Final Thoughts

I don’t really have an answer to all of my questions, but it does make me think before I “like” a status, photo, etc. – do I really like it or am I trying to make the other person feel better about it?  Or am I trying to make myself feel better?

The Logan Hotel boutique Philadelphia view of Logan's Circle
Logan’s Circle and Fountain view from The Logan Hotel
Philadelphia Replace the Bridges Construction Quotes on Parkway
The Parkway is under construction until late 2017 but love the political quotes – travel truths – the street is a mess to navigate by foot or by car for another year.

I’m curious what you think?  Do you post only sunshine and happiness, rainbows and unicorns? Do you feel sad if you get twenty likes or less? What are your thoughts about travel truths? Do you need the glossy brochures and photo filters to make you happy?  How do you dig deep to find the real thing?

Easter Island cave with two windows
One cave window to the Easter Island coast view – travel truths? to get into the cave you climb into small hole in the ground, crawl a bit (don’t think about bugs or dirt) before you can stand up to get an amazing view


2 thoughts on “Travel Truths Are Closer Than They Appear

  1. After my recent trip to London, I started posting my photos of Highgate Cemetery on Facebook. Some people complained, “didn’t you go anywhere but a cemetery?” So I moved on to more touristy things. Highgate was one of the best things about my trip.
    Thanks for this thoughtful post.

    1. Sandra – thanks! I’ve not visited that cemetery in London will need to research it for future. Sounds like it’s your secret london place if folks only want to see the standard highlights –

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *