I sincerely apologise for the rant ahead.
I remember when I stumbled across my first travel blog almost 6-7 years ago. I can’t remember what I was Googling (I think it was something about hiking to Machu Picchu) but I became enthralled with the stories the author was able to weave and her use of GoPro and iPhone ‘selfies’. I consumed every article on her blog, and when I was left hungry for more, found myself searching for other similar blogs to read. And I found them. I was particularly interested in female travel experiences and any and all adventures relating to items on my bucket list. In fact, it was through reading some of these blogs that my bucket list expanded. It was also because of my interactions with the original travel blog that I joined Instagram and Snapchat.
However, over the past 3 years (there abouts) I have noticed a significant change in the travel blogging industry that I do not like. In fact, this very change lead to me unfollowing a number of accounts on Instagram, and for some of these original bloggers, I don’t even bother reading their blog content anymore. Why? Because I’m sick of the dresses.
I realise that this seems like a trivial thing, but it is a symptom of a bigger issue for me, and over all, I think that issue is that I can no longer relate to many of those who blog about travel.
Blogger 1 (the original travel blog site) used to travel the world on a tight budget, wore “normal clothes” (pants, tops, dresses, shoes, not exclusively long, flowy dresses) and seemed genuinely excited to be having the experiences they were having. Their back-of-the-head selfies and funny captions invited me in, their recounts and stories on their blog hooked me. I could actually see myself having those experiences. In fact, I found their content so relatable that their content is what inspired me to travel to New Zealand and Egypt.
I feel like most of this started to change around the 2018 mark where ‘influencer’ became a job title. Suddenly, all the Instagram content I was consuming involved seeing girls in flowy dresses on mountain tops, and sponsored content for expensive-ass resorts and products. Blog posts became giant ads for businesses or ‘how tos’ for becoming Insta-famous or starting “your own 6 figure travel blog”. I witnessed the effects of this first hand in Bali in early 2020 when I saw two girls who had paid a guide to climb Mt Batur make an attempt in long skirts and glittery sandals before paying three-times the amount to catch a ride to the summit on the back of a motorbike.
What happened to the stories? What happened to the relatability? What happened to the connection with their audience?
It frustrates me that I no longer feel this way towards some of those who were my favourite bloggers. And before you come at me, I realise that it is not fair to expect them to continue travelling the world using hostels, that they are getting older and their style may change, and that they deserve to get paid and wear whatever they want. I agree 100%. But that doesn’t stop me from missing the connection I once felt with their content. It doesn’t stop me from feeling robbed of a vision. I doesn’t stop me from feeling like everything is fake and staged and asking myself if I should I even bother going to those places they advertise. So I guess it’s not the flowery dresses I hate, but what they represent that I dislike with a passion.
I realise that this post might make me look like a spoiled brat, but I’m not sorry for it. These days I follow very few travel bloggers online and I tend to avoid large travel blogs when looking for advice, tips and tricks, or a good story.
Do you feel the same? Do you disagree? Are there any small-time (or big-time) travel bloggers who you follow because you think they are relatable?
DISCLAIMER: I want to make it clear that I am not attacking any specific travel bloggers or influencers in this post. I used one as an example of my experiences, but my thoughts and opinions apply to an entire industry. I also want to make it clear that I have also taken travel photos in flowy dresses, so maybe I’m a hypocrite?
EDIT: Tiffany Ferg, a Youtuber who produces internet analysis videos, explored this exact same thing in relation to ‘big’ Youtubers in her video “You’re Not Relatable”. I think she made a couple of really good points about how an increase in viewership and ‘fame’ results in a a change in content, and thus, relatability. I wrote this article long before I watched her video but held off posting it because I didn’t want to sound like a complaining Karen. Her video gave me a bit of a confidence boost to share my opinions on this topic.