I Have Become a Total Hypocrite

Why I Travel

I’m free. The sudden realisation of my impending, sprawling freedom hits me just as I stride off the plane. Ahead of the pack – thanks to seat 2C and almost breathless speed – I bury my ears into stupidly oversized headphones and blare my current go-to happy song, a bit of slightly-outdated alt rock, and then it hits me. I having nothing coming up. No Fixed Plans. I have a huge, uncertain, blissful chunk of Time ahead of me. A whole summer of it. Of doing what I want, nurturing neglected relationships, actually posting on my blog. I am free. I actually start skipping. In fact it’s a half-dance (slightly embarrassing given that I do this directly in front of the very good looking man I’ve been gazing at longingly for the whole flight).

If you’ve been following me on social media and Snapchat and all the other six squillion ways I make myself (and often my innermost thoughts) dangerously accessible online, you may have noticed I’ve been a tad busy lately. More than a tad. I have been a positive whirlwind, a vortex, of busy. Since my two months in Asia at the start of the year, and with the exception of my digital detox – a blissful blob of “doing nothing” right smack in the middle of it all – I have been Tarzan-swinging from trip to trip in the half-mad, Gotta Catch ‘Em All blur of an obsessive. But without Alexander Skarsgard to catch me (sigh). I was offered a lot of press trips. A Lot. And I said a big fat YES! to them all. And now I’m knackered. I am beyond exhausted. Earlier I spent about forty minutes trying to remember where I went in May. In the end I had to look it up. A whole month! The memories have barely saved – as though I pulled the SD card out before they’d uploaded.

Me at Lake Atitlan Guatemala - Blue WM

Now, I know what some of you are thinking. You’re thinking the same thing that plenty of my friends have said to my face, usually over a glass of wine at the pub as I lament my high stress levels and expanding waistline. “Oh poor you. Too many free holidays.” And you’re right, in a way – and I am unspeakably, indescribably grateful for these trips. I’m so grateful for all the incredible things I’ve been able to do this year just because I’ve managed to magic a frankly made-up job out of practically nothing save sheer force of will. But you are also not right.

Because these trips are not holidays. I find myself defending this point over and over, especially to my family, but it doesn’t stick. These trips are work. How many times have you used a Dictaphone app on your holiday? Or taken notes during a museum tour? Or taken 1200 photos on a three day trip? How many tweets do you send while you’re travelling? On a typical day during a press trip, I send between five and ten – plus three Instagram posts, a lengthy Facebook update summarising the day – complete with photo collage – and multiple Snapchat videos. And if you don’t think that’s hard work, go do it during a nine-hour-long day of sightseeing, then write 1000 words about that day and edit five of the five hundred photos you took. And then come and tell me I was on holiday*.

Digital Detox Challenge

*Sorry to rant. But then again I’m not sorry. Because I work gosh darn hard and I want to defend myself.

The last couple of weeks have felt especially intense. There was Spain – a week of 12, 13, 14 hour days sightseeing and photographing and tweeting till my fingers were numb. Then there was The Cruise, a week of insane all-inclusive ultra luxury which I used to Blow Off Steam in the biggest, drunkest, and most absurd way possible. Then, after just three days at home, I was in Stockholm for TBEX (the Travel Blogger Exchange), where I blew off even more steam: supplementing long, tiring days at the conference with nights of wailing drunkenness. The kinds of nights that find you doing slut-drops to ABBA at 3am in a club after so many rum and cokes that your wallet won’t close over all the receipts you loudly declare can be used for TAX DEDUCTIONS. (They cannot). I’m explaining myself here in case you have been watching my snapchat and concluded that all I ever do is get drunk and shriek nonsense about cats or hot guys. I don’t: I’ve just had a whole lot more steam to blow off than normal. After TBEX – during which I got approximately twelve hours sleep across four nights – I headed on the final press trip. A few days, relaxing but active, in Finland – and now I am finally headed home, feeling almost sick with exhaustion. I am broken. I am done. I am delirious. I have never felt so happy to be back in England.

The past couple of weeks have been an exhaustive blur of mounting and escalating madness. It felt like that chapter in Anna Karenina where the sentences speed up and lengthen and everything rushes towards her suicide. Or, for a more accessible culture reference, it felt like the way it looks when the Millennium Falcon jumps to lightspeed. Basically, things have been getting out of hand. My reaction has been to get drunker, and louder, and wilder, and to do it all more often than normal, and string myself out even more. I am stretched.

A Week in Central America

Guatemala press trip. Photo by Scott from Intrepid Escape

So, skipping off the plane today into mild, warm, British summertime freedom felt exactly, exactly, like skipping home on the last day of school. It’s even tinged with the same slight regret, because, tired though I am, I don’t really want to stop travelling… ever. There’s a little bit of me that would gladly turn this train around and head straight back to Gatwick and hop a flight to just about anywhere. Just like there was always a bit of me that would have gladly spent the summer at school (geek as I was).

The really worst thing about all this is what’s happened to my blog. To my writing. This post isn’t interesting at all. Nothing happens in it, and it’s not even funny. I’ve just gone on for half a dozen paragraphs about how tired I am. I do have a point, though. Which is this:

I have become a massive hypocrite. I advocate slower, deeper travel. I’m all about re-visiting places or staying longer. Lingering over the details. Truly connecting. Over the past few months I’ve travelled an insane amount, but I can hardly say I’ve connected with those places. And so I’m a hypocrite, and I’m sorry for that. That said, I don’t regret all that travel, for three main reasons.

  1. I have been to some amazing places. Most of them have been added to my ever-increasing list of Places I Want to Revisit –so in a way it’s been like a tasting menu. I’ve also met, or met back up with, some genuinely awesome people, done some amazing things, and had a lot of fun. Oh man, it’s been a lot of fun.
  2. These trips are good for my career. As a travel blogger, it’s good practice to a) travel and b) get recognised by companies as A Good Blogger to Work With. So participating in all these trips, and hopefully doing a good job, has been good for me.
  3. It’s reaffirmed the one thing that I already knew about travel and have been banging on about all this time. Travelling too much, too quickly, will burn you out. You’ll be so busy rushing from place to place, so caught up in the admin and the actual movement of travel, that you’ll risk not having time for the actual travel of travel. The experiences. The accidents and the spontaneous. The good bits. The bits that become memories. Not the “look at this perfect, over-saturated cocktail photo/beach selfie/jump shot in front of [name that tourist attraction] I took” type of memories, but the “remember that time we got lost walking back from a waterfall in Brazil and a local woman who didn’t speak a lick of English gave us a lift with her tiny pink-clad lapdog” type of memories. The ones where you wandered into a Thai bar and got drunk with a ladyboy or you got stung by a jellyfish and a really handsome man came to your rescue on a beach. The good bits.

hiking trekking backpack sunset silhouette climbing

What I’m saying is that I stand by what I always said. That we should try to travel more slowly. Try to really connect with and get to know the world. That rushing from place to place ticking off Bucket List checklists and racking up passport stamps is not the best of travel. We should never forget to travel for it’s own sake. To simply travel, and explore, and experience.

For now, I have summer off. I have a few short, fun things planned in the UK, but I won’t be travelling much. And later this year, details still to be worked out, I will hopefully go away solo again for a month or two. I can’t wait to get back to travelling for myself.

In the meantime, I have a summer of beaches, barbecues, and button-bashing my way through Uncharted 4* ahead of me. Oh, and blogging. There are so many overdue posts coming soon. But first, please excuse me while I go fall into bed and sleep for a week.

Have you ever experienced travel burnout? I’d love to hear your thoughts on the perfect balance for travel.

*I actually play PlayStation with great finesse. The term button bashing was used here for alliterative purposes only. Also if you don’t know what Uncharted is go play it now. You’re welcome.

About Emily Luxton

An award-winning writer and travel blogger on a mission to explore the world through deeper, more intelligent travel. Seeking out adventure, cultural exchanges, food experiences and more as she attempts to get to know the world. Lover of the great outdoors, sunsets, good food, and the odd bit of luxury!

22 Comments

  1. So you just summed up my thoughts. At the beginning of the year I told myself to stop travelling for 2 months and just get settled a bit to actually process all the travels I’ve done. Well, that lasted 2 weeks. And I went from press trip to press trip. Still super exhausted. So happy you wrote up this piece because I hate to sound ungrateful when I tell people how exhausting travel can be. Travel blogging might be a good job with great opportunities but it certainly isn’t a picnic.

    • Thanks Annemarie! It definitely isn’t an easy job – I work harder now than I ever did at any of the office/customer service/call centre jobs I had before. There are days when I actually miss picking up the phone at the gas company call centre I used to work for! It’s a really really fun job but it’s bloody hard work!

      I wrote something similar a few weeks ago and then got too scared to post because I was afraid of people calling me ungrateful. But then I also realised that I didn’t want people to read my blog values and then see how many trips I’ve been on lately, and think I was a lier or a hypocrite! I talk about slow/deep travel a lot but I haven’t been practising what I preach lately. Time to fix that 🙂

  2. Unfortunately, I know tired all too well. I’m always tired, all the time. It’s chronic and relates to my crohn’s disease. Sometimes, I feel even too tired to travel and I wonder what the point it anyway if I’m even too tired to travel and just want to sleep until 2 pm in a Rome Hostel or Essaouira beachfront boutique hotel. Good think you recognized it and realise what is going on. Good for you to clear your schedule and take the summer of. You deserve a break (not a vacation) and I can’t wait to read your monthy challenges again.

    • Thanks so much Naomi 🙂 Being tired all the time for real reasons, instead of stretching yourself too thin, must be terrible. I can’t even imagine it. So good that you keep on travelling despite it – even if you sleep for half the day you can still travel really well and make the most of a place.

      I’m still working on this month’s challenge – had something planned but it fell through. It may wind up that I have to do three things in August at this rate. If that happens I’ll let people send me a forfeit or something! Happy travels 🙂

  3. Dude, everything is relative. Don’t let anyone tell you that what you’re doing isn’t work or that you don’t deserve to say you’re exhausted. You’ve clearly been really busy! Enjoy your free time this summer…a vacation from your “vacations!”

    • Thanks Emily! I always stand up for myself but there are certain friends and family who won’t accept that what I do is anything but fun. I’m like, if it was easy EVERYONE would be doing it!!! Anyways, felt like I had to get the rant out of me 🙂 Feeling better already. Now to crack on with blog posts. So many blog posts…

  4. Love this! 🙂
    But, please amend the line about this not being funny – it simply cannot be in an article where the words ‘slut-drops’ and ‘ABBA’ appear in the same sentence!

  5. I’ve been following your travels and looking forward to reading all about it full! I know you’ll be busy with so much writing but I hope that you get the chance to switch off too 🙂

    • I will make the time! Working on a sort of action plan today. Can’t wait to get all the posts written and published because I’m very excited to share all the stories and photos. But need to relax and enjoy my life a bit too 🙂

  6. Love this post! Exactly my thoughts on travel…Seeing lot of destinations in a short amount of time can be exciting and tons of fun, but it isn’t sustainable forever. Traveling at a slower pace can be more fulfilling and sometimes you just have to take a complete break and stay home! Although even at home it seems you have a lot of activities planned 😉 Enjoy the summer!!!

    • Thanks so much! I totally agree with you – travelling slower is definitely more fulfilling. And staying home is just as valuable as travelling I think – I always say that it’s important to explore your home country as much as new ones 🙂 I really cannot wait to enjoy my summer in Britain!

  7. Girl, this is a FANTASTIC post! I can so recognize myself in what you say. I have actually turned down a couple of invitations to press trips precisely because I knew I would burn out and not even enjoy it. I somehow regret it as it would have been awesome and a great opportunity, but after going on so many, I needed a break and yes, like you did, I almost skipped when I got back after my last one.

    I also understand what you mean when you say this is a hard job. Yup. Indeed. I was so tired after one of the press trips that I had to take two full days off. I was literally brain dead and even physically sick. Yet, I am thankful. Hopefully brands will recognize me as an Awesome Blogger To Work With (ABTWW – shall we acronym that?). And I am so happy to have met some incredible bloggers on those trips – you know who 😉

    Now, time to take a break and enjoy being home!

    • Thanks so much Claudia! I worked pretty hard on it and I was so worried about coming across as ungrateful – which I’m not! But I wanted to let people know why I haven’t been posting as much and why I’ve been travelling in a way that’s contrary to my normal beliefs and values!

      We are both definitely ABTWW’s – loving the acronym there! I try my best but I feel like I’m so burnt out that my normal standards are slipping. Time to get cracking on some blog posts 🙂

  8. A big thanks for this post! And do not say this post is not funny, it actually reveals a real life of a travel writer, as for a long time I have to disabuse my friends and family about their concept of being a travel writer that is just getting paid to travel. And I totally understand how exhausted you are from back-to-back press trips and fast-paced group tours. It is a really difficult job and you do earn a break for recharging and enjoy the summertime in UK. And I really like this post by the way:)

    • Thank you Julie 🙂 I really liked writing the post – it felt a bit like cleansing! It’s been building up in me for a while because so many people think I have this amazing dream job, and actually it’s not all peaches and cream. It’s still damn hard work – and all the perks I enjoy these days, I enjoy because of the work and dedication and commitment I put in!

      Travelling too much or too fast, as a blogger or a traveller, is exhausting. It also makes it harder to remember everything you did, or even to fully enjoy at the time. That’s why I always say it’s better to go slow. Because that way you take time to actually get to know the places you’re visiting 🙂

      Thanks again for commenting!

  9. So looking forward to your posts – I know what you mean about exhaustion and I only had 4 weekends booked – not like you. Enjoy your down time you deserve it and enjoy what little British summer we have left !

    • Thank you 🙂 I actually can’t wait to get writing again, especially now that I have time, and I’m really looking forward to sharing my adventures from the past few weeks. If I can remember them all!

  10. You’re allowed to feel exhausted and overworked and all of that but most people would kill to be in your position. I know you’re not ungrateful but I don’t know… Perspective? Quit it if you feel overworked. Find something else less taxing for you than travelling the world and writing about it. Maybe there’s something better or easier out there for you? 😃

    • Thanks for commenting Paula. This post was less about me feeling overworked and more about reiterating my point that slow travel is better – both for us and for travel itself! Also, travelling the world and writing about it isn’t too taxing for me. Most days I absolutely adore my job, and I would never ever give it up. But that doesn’t mean that it’s easy. I also wrote this for the hundreds (literally hundreds) of people in my life who genuinely think I have the easiest, cushiest job in the world – I really wanted to show them that I don’t. As for the people that would kill to be in my position, I honestly don’t think many would if they truly knew the realities of blogging as a career!

      It isn’t just “travelling the world and writing about it”. There is so much admin that goes alongside: networking, pitching, coding, learning how to code, building a site, building a following, interacting with followers, posting to social, writing blog posts, editing photos. It’s like doing five jobs at once, except I love all five jobs and am possibly a little bit addicted, so I can’t give them up. Believe me, though, I do have perspective. I’m aware that there are many more taxing or difficult jobs I could be doing, that don’t have the perks mine does (I came from jobs like those). And I’m impossibly grateful that I have the job I do. But that doesn’t mean that I want everyone to think that everything is rosy all of the time – I like to be honest with my readers, and I wanted to show the darker side of what I do.

      Anwyays, this post wasn’t supposed to be just a rant about how tired I am. The main point was to explain to any of my longterm followers why I have been neglecting my main values, the ones this blog is meant to be built on. And to apologise for being the hypocrite that these trips – which I took out of necessity – have turned me into. It was also about sharing my experiences with others in order to back up my standpoint on slower/deeper travel – to show that I’ve tried both types of travel and I know which I prefer. I hope that came across in what I wrote, because only a small part of it is about telling people that I don’t always love my job (and that it’s ok not to). 🙂

  11. I can feel the sweet relief of freedom as I read this! I’m not a known enough blogger to get invited to this many press trips yet (also…congrats!), but I can kind of see how this could get crazy. I’ve been loving your social media channels, on the plus side. I wish you blissful freedom and I do hope you get to revisit some of those magical places soon. 🙂

    • Thanks so much Amanda! It did get a little crazy there by the end, but it’s been a total blast too! Just totted up the grand total of posts I have to write now (not counting posts I want to write) and the number is 22. That’s not as bad as I thought – so fingers crossed I get through them asap! And then it’s on to much slower travel for the rest of the year!

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