I’m going to make a lot of people angry with this opinion: Travel bloggers are the worst. I’m not talking about points and miles bloggers or even those who market travel credit cards – they actually provide a service. People are able to have amazing travel experiences thanks to the so-called credit card pimps. No, the real non-contributing zeros in the world of blogging are travel bloggers. I’m not a cynic and I personally know dozens of travel bloggers who are pretty nice people. My beef is with their line of work and the lack of value in it.
It all started three or four years ago. I was hitting the Twitter travel chat scene pretty hard, excitedly exchanging pointless travel tips with other delirious “digital nomads” and “travel enthusiasts” (Really? Have you been to an airport lately?). After a couple of these travel chats, I began to develop a serious aversion to travel chats and the people (mostly travel bloggers) participating in them. Repeating the same nonsensical, generic travel advice over and over again, in the hopes it would turn them into Anthony Bourdain:
“What’s your favorite kind of travel?”
Answer: “Off the beaten path!”
“What’s the best part?”
“The adventures! And the locals!”
“What’s the most amazing place you’ve ever traveled to?”
“North Korea. Though sadly, I didn’t get invited to a stranger’s wedding like I had expected.”
If I had a dollar every time one of these travel bloggers gave these answers to describe their most ideal, meaningful travel experiences, I’d be on the cover of Forbes right now. Why are these sentiments so obnoxious? Because they’re completely disingenuous and reveal a lack of self-awareness and delusions about the world.
Not to mention, their greedy attitude towards “locals” as a source of entertainment is completely absurd and would never be reciprocated by any of these bloggers. Would you invite total strangers to your expensively-catered special day? No? Then don’t go to a third world country and turn someone else’s sacred ritual into a tourist experience.
The idea that impoverished people in some far-off corner of the world owe anything to an under-employed 25 year-old whose sole mission in life is to get corporate sponsorship to cover his pointless trips around the world while contributing nothing to society is astounding.
The idea that “locals” serve no other purpose but to make said travel blogger’s “unique” travel experience more interesting to discuss at the water cooler of the workplace he’s eschewed in favor of a “free” and “nomadic” existence is completely gag-inducing. The constant need to be somewhere “first” and to treat people like props for interesting Instagram photos is exactly what’s wrong with travel blogging today: It’s selfish, disingenuous, and contributes nothing of value.
“What about all those useful travel tips bloggers write about?” It’s mostly regurgitated nonsense or sponsored content passing itself off as genuine and unique. But it isn’t. And even if the hundredth digital nomad who wrote about his 20 minute refugee camp experience as if he’d spent an entire month there genuinely cares, his motives are selfish: To produce content that gets him more sponsorship, so he can keep traveling and pretending his experiences are more meaningful than they really are. It’s a vicious cycle that the rest of us need to stop encouraging.
“Not all who wander are lost.” Most travel bloggers are.