In the age of social media, a picture not only speaks a thousand words, it speaks a million words actually. Our life is not just about having great experiences but is more of documenting them for the voyeurs on social media that we refer as friends/followers.
The advent of social media has also given rise to mini celebrities whose perfect lives, on point sense of humor, envious travel itineraries, fancy fashion choices are all a scroll away.
India has immensely grown post 2000, i am sure all nineties kid would agree that India in our childhood was way different than the India that we live in today. Well paid private jobs, plush apartments, fancy restaurants, pubs , breweries, malls , eating without looking at the right side of the menu or not checking for the price tag while buying something weren’t things/luxuries we enjoyed in our childhood.While our jobs have made all our desires come true, it has also made us increasingly dissatisfied of our mundane lives and crave for experiences that would make us forget our stressful jobs even though that means only for a little while. Social media has only increased this misery. There are actually people who have been able to do that, break from there routine lives, pursue their passion for travel and even get paid for it.
Our Instagram feeds are full of such people, who find the perfect location, the perfect angle, the perfect dress, the perfect smiles and as we sit in our cubicles and scroll through our phones, our lives become a little more miserable with every scroll, our longing to quit everything and just travel increases a little more.
I think travel and photography are the drugs that our generation is most addicted to. Almost every other person own a DSLR , they might not know how to click good pictures but they sure as hell know how to over edit them, add their signature watermark and post on Facebook. Travel is becoming less about passion and more about proving a point or a race where I have to run ahead of others. Not to say articles like, solo woman traveler who is traveling so many countries on bike, or a family that took a road trip to so many countries, this couple quit their job to travel the world, how to make money while traveling, why our generation is investing more on experiences rather than material needs,are just messing us up more. If they can do it, why can’t I?
But there is a not so rosy side of travel that neither the travelers nor these travel blogs/sites tell you about. And i think it is time we address the elephant in the room.
- Nothing in this world is free – Yes, no matter how many stories you read of people traveling on shoe string budgets, earning while traveling etc, please know travel isn’t free, the food on your plate isn’t free, your clothes, your shoes everything comes with a price. So people with all those wonderful pictures on Instagram have actually paid to travel to that place, to buy expensive gadgets to document it perfectly, to wear fancy clothes. Now some do find that way to gather followers, get sponsored trips or clothes and actually get paid but it’s a long tedious road and not all can make it till the end.
- Is solo travel really that liberating? – I have made a couple of trips all on my own and i really do not understand this desire some people have to travel solo. Honestly! To me it was a forced one, as i wanted to travel and I did not have friends/ partner or a group i could tag along with. So i went solo. Much like my relationship status, I would like to come back home to someone, eat dinner together and just talk about my day, but since i do not have a befitting partner i choose to stay alone , lead a single life. Does not mean i want that or have chosen that, it is more of a the path between not being able to compromise on 2 things that are equally important.
- Safety for women travelers – while we all romanticize and applaud how woman travelers are going solo exploring places, what we do not talk about is the risks involved. Every woman traveler will tell you stories about how she has been followed, passed lewd comments, been groped in crowd or public transport or even been sexually assaulted. I recently heard of a solo woman biker, who is exploring the mountains on bikes and never spends a single penny on stays. She sometimes pitches her tent on green grass, under a star studded sky, inside lush green forests, by the riverside. Dreamy right? Well she also sleeps with a pepper spray in one hand and a paper knife in the other! Travel blogs never tell you the full story, and this same woman will only post her selfies by the adventurous highways she has traveled on!
- This is not for ever! – We all know it right, it is just that our generation has not been conditioned to think about 10 years or 20 years down the line. We have not learnt to save for a rainy day like our parents because we haven’t seen one! We did not deal with the post independence struggle in fifties and sixties like our parents did, where there were no jobs, no luxury, everyone just survived. So finally in seventies and eighties, when people started seeing some money they also made sure they saved it for a future that was unknown. Travel blogs tell you how it is okay, to have 0 savings, to not buy a house and travel the world, which all seems perfectly okay now but what about the future? Maybe 20 years down the line we will be talking about how some in our generation had a misguided conception about a dreamy life and ended up losing all their money. They have seen the world, but in their sixties when they can no longer work, they have to do temporary jobs to make ends meet. I recently read about a couple who quit their jobs to travel for 8 years , used up all their savings , sold their house and car and are now scrubbing toilets to put food on their plate.
Everything in life needs balance. You could invest your money in a fixed deposit or a house that has guaranteed returns , or take risky chances in share market that can make you extremely rich or extremely poor. The choice is definitely yours but just make sure it is a well thought one!