Travel Advent Dec. 9: Shallow Travel Writing

I’m a bit angry with the travel writing industry. When brainstorming ideas for these advent stories, I Googled up some travel writing prompts. Every site I found was more conceited and vapid than the last. “Tell a time when you missed home.” “You’ve landed in Fiji. What do you do?” I don’t know, maybe these are fine and as always I’m being a bit too harsh, but I just don’t know how much we need all these travel writers if all they’re going to do is write the same stuff. I’m guilty of this as well, and my content certainly isn’t necessary as I just throw more content at the giant toilet that we call the internet. But I like writing, and I’ve got 2 more years lease on this domain so may as well bake as many biscuits as possible.

But what I’m getting at is, so much of travel these days is so shallow. We go to new places, talk about how good the food is, how nice the locals are, how a particular custom really took us off guard, and how we’ll “Always have X country in our hearts, and carry these experiences with us always.” If we’re all doing that, then we don’t have to write about it, do we? Where’s the experimentation, the craziness, the Hunter S. Thompson gonzoing out and seeing lizard people in a hotel lobby? We need more bat country these days, a bit more depth in our content to keep us from turning into the same shallow travel blogging zombies. So many travel narratives I read end with something along the lines of “I love this country, I’ll never forget it.” And my posts are guilty of this too. I am sometimes guilty of looking at travel as something shallow, as another country to check off my list. I’ve been guilty of venturing to a country simply to say that I have been there (my fascination with small countries is to blame).

But how many unique, untold experiences am I getting from these encounters? How many crazy tales do I need to tell? Not enough, but it seems to attract you lovely followers here for some reason. Half of the views I get on this site are probably other travel bloggers, liking my articles to get me to go to their articles and like/follow/subscribe to their content. Like everything, it’s just become another machine that occasionally creates a legend while churning out and spitting a boatload of sub-interesting content. We need to start telling more interesting stories, and if we don’t live them, then we’ve got to start making them up — don’t we, fellow travel writers?

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