This week was supposed to be another ’72 hours in’ but then I got lost down an Instagram hole (happens to the best of us, right?) and it made me think about our own travel styles and how one size doesn’t fit all. We all have our different loves and yet sometimes, we feel pressure that we should feel that we have to holiday in a certain way that may be perfect for your next door neighbour, but it sure as hell isn’t your cup of tea. This is probably going to seem like a heavily biased and stereotypy kind of post but these are my generalised thoughts so stay with me. Please.
I’m a bit of an introvert and like my creature comforts. I love travel but I’m a homebody (I’m a walking contradiction to be fair). So when I travel I don’t want to feel like I’ve been thrown out of my comfort zone into an anxiety inducing situation and this is something I used to feel a bad about or like I might be missing out on what was ‘a normal right of passage’ or ‘a life changing, cultural experience’.
When I left school I went straight into a job at a solicitors so never had the university experience or the ‘girls trip’ like some of my friends. And I used to feel like I’d missed out on this right of passage, having those memories with your best friends to look back on in years to come. My husband for example has those memories from his ‘lads’ holidays and I genuinely love hearing about them. Then, at 21, I was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease and not only was the idea of a trip with my best friends becoming as likely as me suddenly discovering I’m a long lost twin of Taylor Swift, but invites on regular nights out became a thing of the past. People stopped inviting the girl that was always too exhausted or not quite well enough. And this stung. So I always pined for those holidays that never happened. Then I got older.
At the ripe old age of 34, I watch the shows on Sky or the BBC about the wild world of holidays to Magaluf, Ibiza, Ayia Napa, and while I accept that not EVERY group of friends are like the ones aired because, entertainment, I do now realise that I wasn’t ever that person. I would have hated that experience. Not a huge fan of self-catering studios because I like to be lazy on holiday and go out for meals; spoil myself. Also, not a fan of eating out on fast food and a full English with cheap booze to line your stomach before repeating the same blackout drunk night out you had before where you might wake up with a stonking hangover or a strange person in your bed. Nope. I’m also a bit of a lightweight so it would have absolutely ended in disaster.
As you get older though, there becomes a different kind of holiday that you feel maybe you should want to have. The ‘authentic’ experience. The ‘trip to find myself’. Sometimes it’s the ‘gap year’ trip. But it mostly involves heading to the arse end of nowhere where you explore small towns with almost zero wifi signal (this kills me because if I can’t be in touch with my loved ones back home I spiral) and either staying in a hostel or staying with strangers with a shared Air BnB situation. I don’t enjoy feeling like I’m lost in the wilderness. I’m not particularly bothered about feeling like a local on my holiday and I want to know that I can safely eat something knowing a clean and functioning toilet is nearby, just in case. I enjoy learning about other cultures, I just realised I don’t need to experience them first hand to appreciate them.
Then you have Instagram travel. The travel where you feel like you should be wanting to discover places that are ‘off the grid’, these secret locations that none of your friends have experienced yet. Similar to the previous type, only this kind of trip makes it look like you can have quite the glamorous, authentic trip because although the base where you’ll stay is modern and in a city, you can venture out to these ‘undiscovered’ places (or ‘underhyped’, it’s all the same haha) and have the benefit of an authentic experience on a day trip. What they don’t always mention however is that sometimes, this underhyped place is no longer underhyped because of Instagram and dayum there are so many people clambering for that same shot they got up at 5am for. The cherry trees in Japan were always on my bucket list until an influencer was brutally honest and said it’s so busy it’s actually an unpleasant experience. That’s the kind of transparency I appreciate!
Instagram travel is definitely the trickiest of all in my opinion because it can be both the best and the worst. It can make you feel guilty for not wanting to visit these beautiful places, for just appreciating the beauty from afar, but leave you having to defend your choices for a country not appealing to you so then it sounds like you’re putting the place down and being negative. Minefield! But on the flip side, I have found some stunning hotels, cute cafes, and top tips on there and like to think that I’ve inspired other people somehow with my trips (though my account has been a smidge dormant for a while).
I think it’s a weird time we’re living in where we’re made to feel guilty for wanting that five star hotel or fancy pants restaurant. That we’re made to feel ashamed for our choices when we work bloody hard all year round to save for these experiences. Why should we visit a long lost town with a population of 10 and eat their food if it’s something that we just won’t enjoy? Why do people have the right to judge a 40 year old couple who like to holiday in Disney, or Vegas, because it simply doesn’t appeal to them? Double standards are not okay, folks.
My travel style is 100% visiting places with good food, postcard perfect beaches, stunning hotels and I like to shop. Or have access to shops at least. I love insta worthy swimming pools, rooftop bars and palm trees. I love cities with buildings that tower above me, twinkling skylines and coffee shops galore. I love places that have decent phone signals, allow for late night walks and make me feel like I’ve actually escaped the 9-5 life for a week or two. I don’t want to visit the pyramids in Egypt, see the Taj Mahal or do the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. I don’t want to get lost down the foodie streets of Bangkok or stay in lodges in the middle of a National Park in Rwanda. And finally, I’ve decided to make no apologies for the things I love.
So many places in this great big world look and sound amazing, from the safety of my sofa while watching them on YouTube or reading a travel magazine. But they’re just not for me.
So what am I trying to say in this pretty rambly post? Travel. Travel as much as you are able and want to. But travel to the places YOU love, and make no apologies for it. Take that trip to Disney if that’s what you want. Go camp in the middle of a desert if that’s your idea of bliss. Sit by the same hotel pool every year and don’t move until they force you off your lounger if that’s what you need. Never feel guilty for spending your hard earned cash on something that is someone else’s idea of hell or let them tell you it’s not normal.
What about you? What have you realised about your travel style as you’ve got older and make no apologies for.