A funny realization dawned on me a few weeks ago while planning this Brazil trip.
I’ve turned into a lazy, spoiled traveller. I have no idea how to plan international travel anymore.
The budgeting. The flight bookings. The arrangement of visas and accommodations and all things that make travel so daunting and rewarding and exhilarating. I wanted to throw my computer at the wall and go back to bed. Forever.
Inherently, I DO know how to do this stuff. But it’s just such a goddamned hassle. A rewarding hassle, to be sure. But a hassle. After all, apparently we’re happier planning our trips than actually doing them.
Over the past year, most of my trips have been media trips…other than Montreal, Halifax, and the Dominican Republic. But even those were also aided by friends and all-inclusive packages. Typically, when I do media trips, I request to extend my flight home so that I can spend extra time in the area. It’s what I did with Prague and Calgary (and you’ll find most media folks are more than accommodating in this regard).
But THIS trip…this trip is just for me. Pure travel. No obligations.
As I’m admonishing myself for laziness, however, the merits of media trips are becoming all too obvious as well.
1. My biggest issue with planning a trip: MEDIA OVERLOAD. Holy shit. The Internet is a minefield of information, and navigating it feels like a life or death situation. Where to go? What to do? What’s worth seeing? Everybody has a friggen opinion. Duh. We’re bloggers, we’re meant to inspire.
So what did I do? I ordered a Lonely Planet guidebook, and a Portuguese phrasebook. Done.
Here I am, a travel writer who curates online content, but I’m goddamned married to my guidebooks. Pages I can dog-ear; sentences I can highlight.
I love that media trips plan all this stuff for me. Narrows it down. Gives me something concrete to research online.
2. The food experiences. I just spent the past two months researching St. John’s finest restaurants, which, of course, involved eating at them. Can I afford to do this in Brazil? Shit no. I’m looking forward to a little weight loss, actually, as most days I’ll probably have to scale back on the food intake just to make ends meet. I hear that’s healthy, right?
Some of my best food experiences have been the direct result of press trips and sponsored restaurant menu tastings. As a result, I like to think I’m a more knowledgeable food writer these days. (Read: snob.)
3. The company. Other than the occasional odd group of bitter, jaded travel media folks who scorn freebies and are no longer impressed by their surroundings, almost every media trip I’ve been on has been in the company of amazing people. In fact, I met Nadine and Maggie on my Contiki South America trip, and now we’re reuniting in Brazil. BFFs across the miles.
4. I have experiences I would never have on my own dime. There’s a lot to be said about travelling how you want to travel, but if you know how to pick the right media trip, you DO get to travel the way you want. Would I have ever heli-yogaed IRL? Hell no. Would hiking Machu Picchu have been a realistic goal for me even two years ago? Not a chance. And those memories are some of my most coveted. I am eternally grateful for them.
And that’s what I’m all about, being a Professional Experience Collector. I’m a writer, not a travel agent. You come here to be inspired or have a chuckle, or perhaps you’re holding out for the day when I crack and upload a nude photo. Either way, the only time I do the whole “Top 10 places to have a coffee” thing is when I’ve spent a great deal of time somewhere. Like St. John’s.
Am I a sell-out? Probably. Girl’s gotta eat.
Everything is objective. Remember that, peeps.
And that is my attempt to console myself over the fact I’m a really shitty traveller. Whatever the case, I’m going to need a real vacation after this one.