This is just a rant on travel “influencing” (whatever that means). Because, newsflash, that dreamy vignette or epic drone shot is not cutting it anymore. This may be the death of travel blogging as we know it.
Telling a travel tale do not always open in a scene of you in catatonic boredom slouching in your office chair. It does not always end with your arms reaching for the clouds on top of—oh I don’t know, maybe some mountain view point that was featured in the recent Star Cinema flick? Don’t fool yourself that getting to your dream destination is the gold standard antidote that we pop to be a better version of ourselves. Because, let me burst your bubble, that does not define you.
We plan, we book, we go, we conquer. Then for some strange reason we inflict a selective amnesia out of conveninece. Where is the scene where you endure the traffic from the airport? Where is the nagging voice of your mom shouting “Buti kilala mo pa kami”? Where is the heavenly moment when you get reunited with your moldy pillow? Where is the foreboding threat of the following Monday when you return to work just to drown in emails? — Would all these matter? Of course! It is because travel is not a movie, it is a process. To embody travel is to breathe travel, and to effectively represent and sell the idea, one must be able to conjure a good travel material even from the most mundane sources, say a bowl of muesli or some empty water bottle.
Let me side track a bit.
The face of travel blogging as we know it is changing right before our eyes. Influence is being given a new image and sound. Washed in pastel, sanitized relentlessly, glossified heavily, studded with succulents, pineapples, and unicorn bibelots. On top of that, they are tagged with names whiter than an empty piece of coupon band. #SueMe
Sure, they stand tall… on pedestals, framing a perfect flat lay of—Oh, I don’t know, maybe random trinkets that will later be slapped with incongruent instagram captions. Well, at least they are consistent.
They attend art events overseas. But instead of meeting the artist and admiring the piece and creative process, they gravitate and clamour around a pretty wall just because that’s a perfect background for the real star of the event, THEM. #Truestory
True, they annoy me and my eyes roll with each flick of my thumb in an agressive attempt to scroll them out of my brightly lit screen (teal and orange gives me headache). It is, however, also true that these young bunch sells travel in a way so different from how we did it in the last decade that it is almost unrecognizable. But that does not make them wrong or otherwise less admirable.
We travel and inspire people to travel, we preach of defying rules and creating our own paths—-Essentially to travel in a way only ourselves could define and a benchmark only ourselves could set. So we should also try not to undermine their method of selling the trade (operative word: TRY).
So what, if they are just numbers and if those numbers are followers that are not the buying crowd and basically don’t convert into business? That’s the client’s headache! Ginusto nila yan.
We heard it loud and clear. Either we play their number games and sell out to join the ampaw movement. Or we embrace the shift of power and move on to create a new path, our path. A niche where we avoid succumbing to be the likes of a superficial buzzfeed listicle writer, or a pretty face who can’t even properly caption a photo of a cocktail, or that white dude with 0.00007 Filipino blood patronizing a nation for clickbait views.
We could create a niche of intelligent influence, a relevant advocacy, a storytelling that does not end when we flag a cab at the arrival floor of the airport. Because unlike how a movie ends, after the glorious kiss, past the happy ever afters, at dimming point when the camera pans to the horizon, LIFE GOES ON! And so as our travel stories.
And in our stories, it is not a plot of linear build-up to the climax, but rather a series of ups and downs and at some point, SHIT. WILL. GET. REAL.
So, shall we pave new ways like how we did it a decade ago? It’s going to be a rough one.
Let’s subvert narrative!
[Art by @lakadpilipinas]