I came across an article recently on Buzzfeed that got me a bit upset. Normally Buzzfeed doesn't irk me the way say, Gawker might. But I wanted to open up a discussion with fellow travel bloggers to see how they felt about the article and what their take on it was.
To start, the article is: This Couple Quit Their Jobs To Travel And Now Scrub Toilets To Get By
It has over 2 million views, which is wonderful for the couple, but not so wonderful for the message it's conveying.
The article, which features travel writers Chanel Cartell and Stevo Dirnberger, explains that social media hides the reality of their travels. They began by quitting their 9-5 advertising jobs in search of adventure and happiness. Their mission was to see how far they could get from home, thus their aptly titled blog: How Far from Home.
But they don't spin a tale of inspiration and hope for people that haven't yet made the brave jump from conventional to non-conventional living. They realized very quickly that their social media posts and their realities weren't aligned. While they snapped photographs doing yoga on the beach, or cliff-diving into a bright blue ocean, they realized that the "behind-the-scenes" aspect of their adventure wasn't quite telling the actual tale of their adventure.
Cartell wrote when they aren’t taking pretty pictures, they are doing “painstakingly hard and dirty work.” This "painstakingly hard and dirty work" includes scrubbing toilets, polishing wine glasses, and shoveling rocks. What some may call their actual day jobs, mind you.
Another passage from the article entails the sadness that is not being able to buy beer or sweets (necessities?) while enjoying time in Norway. It reads, "Whilst visits to town with our new friends in Norway meant buying beer and bags of candy for them, we’ve been forced to purchase floss (because you only get one set of pearlers, right?) and nothing else".
And finally, the bit that upset me the most was in regards to their physical health. Cartell wrote, "I am not at my fittest, slimmest or physically healthiest. We eat jam on crackers most days, get roughly 5hrs of sleep per night."
First, I just have to start with saying that your physical health is completely within your control. You make a choice every day if you want to exercise or not. Doing squats, lunges, going hiking, jogging, swimming -- all within your control wherever you are in the world. I don't think it's fair to blame this lifestyle on why you aren't in shape. The one thing you probably have way more of than when you worked in advertising is TIME. Time to get in shape. Time to work on your fitness. Time to focus on your health.
I do appreciate what they are trying to do in showing the not-so-glamorous side of being a travel blogger, or a nomad. But it seems there is a less self-indulgent way of doing so. You gave up a certain lifestyle in order to TRAVEL THE WORLD. Not something many people can actually do. So don't say that you have to now polish glassware and scrub toilets and it's hard. Your reward is TRAVELLING THE WORLD. You know what the reward is for people who polish wine glasses and scrub toilets on a daily basis is? Minimum wage.
Alas, Vanessa and I aren't by any means "well off". We have to pick up jobs here and there to make some extra money for you know, gas and food (necessities). But it's also rewarding to find these jobs. Not only have we learned humility (Formula 1 being soaking wet and working for 12-13 hours straight), but we also have learned -- period. We take every experience as a learning experience and are forever grateful to be able to be happy living in an RV and traveling as much as we do.
Do Cartell and Dirnberger say that it's all worth it? Of course. They wouldn't trade their experiences in for anything. But they also stressed to Buzzfeed that part of the intention behind their journey was "to stay ‘uncomfortable’ and aim for challenges that would push us outside of our comfort zone, thereby inspiring us creatively."
To me, it sounds like not making your health a priority, eating jam and crackers instead of oh, I don't know, apples, bananas, or vegetables, and sleeping less than 5 hours a night will indeed make someone VERY uncomfortable. So congratulations, you did indeed succeed there.
I don't want to come across hating on their experience, because as I've said before everyone has their own journey and path. I am just not a fan of how this couple depicted travel or the lifestyle some of us are extremely proud of, in their article. I don't think it adequately represents those of us who are "nomadically responsible". Vanessa and I make sure that we incorporate as many fruits and vegetables into our diet as we can. We cut back on unhealthy foods and stick to very inexpensive ones like lentils, beans, brown rice, quinoa, and couscous. We exercise as much as we can -- hiking, jumping rope, running, walking, yoga, or just doing a lap in a Walmart parking lot. We also sleep enough to fulfill our bodies and our spirits so that we can continue to function at peak performance.
Everyone's different, I know. And there certainly is a lackluster behind-the-scenes sometimes when we travel. But such is life. We don't want pity, or attention, or to indulge ourselves. Our social media posts and photos are beautiful because WE SEE BEAUTY EVERY DAY IN OUR TRAVELS. It's not a farce. It's not a lie. It's not showcasing only the good. Because we also show you when our cabinet full of dishes shatters to the floor.
We want our truth to be told from the very beginning. Because this is the couple that quit their jobs to travel and now are the happiest they've ever been, despite the difficulties--The Roamans.
What do you guys think of the article? Am I being too harsh? Let me know your thoughts in the comments.
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