Dear readers, do you trust me?
Well, perhaps you shouldn’t because after all, I am a travel blogger and if there is one thing I have learned from travel blogging it is that you should never trust a travel blogger…
What began as amateur web users humbly sharing their experiences, advice and pictures has now mushroomed into a lucrative industry that has made several millionaires and has even rocketed some bloggers to fame and stardom. Inevitably, like in any other walk of life, with the money came contamination and you should now be asking yourself; are travel blogs reliable?
Here are my 9.5 reasons to never trust a travel blogger!
9.5 Reasons To Never Trust A Travel Blogger
1.Because apparently everybody should quit their job and travel
This is the go-to platitude of many a blogger. It adorns article titles and “inspirational” memes the internet over. Yet of course it’s disingenuous at best and complete, utter bollocks at worst.
I mean, if absolutely everybody was permanently gallivanting around the globe and nobody was working then who the hell would check the travel bloggers suitcase in at the airport? Who would then load it onto the plane and more importantly who would serve the little plastic cups of wine during the flight? The flight would obviously crash pretty quickly as the pilot has of course decided to quit his job and travel forever.
2. Because they don’t live on $0.01 a day
How many times have you read a blog post entitled something like “We travelled Europe on $0.01 a day” or “How To Backpack Iceland For Free!” (well probably never because I’m exaggerating but you get the point). It sounds very impressive and get’s a reader’s attention but it most probably never actually happened quite simply because impossible budgets are, well impossible (although I did once survive in Paris for 3 days with just €3). Consequently we sometimes exaggerate, misrepresent or even lie about what we spend.
Some bloggers are earning more from the road than most of you do from your workstations. Accordingly they really don’t need to live so impossibly frugally and they damn well don’t.
3. Blogs are for sale
This may come as a surprise to you but Iggy Pop did not advertise Swift Cover because he is really passionate about their car insurance, he did it because he was paid to do it. In fact he probably doesn’t even have a car let alone any insurance; he strikes me as more of a personal helicopter kind of guy.
It’s exactly the same with travel bloggers and in some ways blogs are are little more than digital advertising boards. Does a blogger really love their new, *Insert-Brand* fool-proof trekking socks or have they just been bunged $50 to say they do? How do we really know they even actually wear socks? I mean I seldom ever wear underpants yet I’d gladly sell you a pair.
4. I’ve never actually been to Barnsley
Has a blogger really even been to the places they say they have been? There have been several high profile cases of bloggers been exposed for faking destination guides and I know of one of two top blogs that have done just this. One student famously and brilliantly ran with this turning the question of whether travel blogs are reliable into a hilarious online experiment.
Then again university degrees are awarded entirely on the basis of secondary sources which is essentially pastiching other people’s research so if you should never trust a travel blogger then you maybe should never trust a teacher either.
5. It’s not what you know…
Many prominent travel bloggers are prominent purely because they are connected and know how to play the game. A lot of them have backgrounds in media, SEO (search engine manipulation) and marketing. They know the right people, they know how to create the illusion of authority and they know how to get their blog higher up on a Google search.
This means that the most prominent bloggers are not the ones who have travelled the most or had the best adventures. Nor are they the ones who take the best photographs and by God they are seldom ever the best writers. Rather, a lot of the time they are just the ones who have a big roster of contacts and know how to keep Google happy. Which leads me very nicely to the next point…
6. We worship at the altar of Google
We all worship at the altar of the great baal Google. Google ranking truly has the power to make or break us and we all quickly learn to dance to its tune, however, counter-intuitively it may contrast with our own internal, natural rhythm. If Google changes its algorithms and makes one minor amendment to its scoring system then somebody’s DA (score on Google’s automated ranking system), and therefore value, could plummet overnight.
In order to placate Google, we have to do a number of odd little things including using a lot silly numbers…
6.5 …Because there is half a reason
Have you ever seen a post with a title like “6 Things To Do In Marrakech With a Lawnmower” or “57 and a Half Ways To Avoid Jet Lag Using Only a Spoon”? Did you think to yourself “Well what an odd number and furthermore what a ridiculous concept to boot!”? Well it’s because people like you like listicles (they’re perfect to read on the toilet) so bloggers happily produce them knowing that you’re twice as likely to click on a post that has a number in the title.
Consequently, sensible numbers like 5 and 10 fill up quickly as do legitimately interesting subject matters. In fact this one isn’t entirely the bloggers fault so I’m putting it back on you. Shame on you reader, shame on you.
7. Sex sells
It’s style over content, a glossy logo and shiny website is often worth far more than great advice, original insights and engaging pros. If the blogger looks good in a bikini or with their shirt off then even better.
By the way I look damn fine in a bikini but I just refuse to exploit myself…
Many blogs are really just vehicles for people’s vanity and a canvas onto which they can project their own ego to the world. They are adorned with pictures and little pseudo, self-help spiels in which they tell you how amazing their life is and therefore by comparison how shit yours is. The pictures are generally less a picture of a blissful beach or a famous monument so much as a picture of *me* at a famous beach or monument.
Besides that, you should never trust anybody who spends at least half of each day with a selfie stick attached to them. Although I do sometimes wonder how many generations it will take before humans evolve to the point that infants are actually born with one of these attached?
9. We Hold Back
The Internet brought pornography to the grateful masses and yet travel bloggers seem to want to attach a PG rating to it and only ever show you the sanitized side of things. For example why do blog posts about Colombia seldom mention cocaine? Why are there so many blog’s primarily covering Thailand and yet they hardly ever mention hookers?
I can quite happily hold my hand up here and say this is at least one blogger indiscretion that I am not guilty off. I have no decency filter whatsoever much to the despair of my dear old Grandma who made the ill advised decision to read all about my naked LSD trip in the Antioquian jungle.
Never Trust A Travel Blogger!
The internet is largely unregulated, untamed and therefore seemingly democratic in giving a voice to all and everybody. As in many cases though, it’s less about who is speaking the most sense but rather who is shouting the loudest and we all know that a fool and his microphone are seldom parted. For me, whilst the internet once promised to be the great anarchic leveller, it has quickly been infiltrated, tamed & monopolised and ceased to be any kind of tool for democracy whatsoever.
Travel blogging began life as the ultimate, DIY, punk antidote to the long held monopoly of the travel agents. However, just like the Sex Pistols signed for EMI, the wretched travel agents got their greasy mitts back in, bought us out and we became part of the system.
Yes, I’m now a part of this system and therefore part of the problem. But it beats getting a real job.
Can You Trust Travel Blogs?
Whilst I hope that you found this article informative, thought provoking and (if you are a travel blogger) highly offensive, I do have something of a confession to make…
…some (quite a few even) travel blogs are actually very trustworthy but of course “9.5 Reasons Why You Should Perhaps, Maybe, Sometimes Question The Integrity of Certain Travel Blogs” wouldn’t have gotten your attention now would it?
So, in the interest of preserving some balance and hopefully sparing myself a lynching from my peers here are just a few of my favourite bloggers who tell it like is. Please note that I am not saying anybody not listed here is not to be trusted, I’m just in a rush to get this article finished (it’s Friday tea time) so I can’t possibly include everybody!
The Broke Backpacker – Check out Will’s refreshingly honest tale of taking ecstasy and joy riding in Pakistan.
Tea Cake Travels – Alice produced a great source on where to get an abortion in Asia.
Like Riding A Bicycle – Danie is unflinchingly honest including about her battle with depression.
Just A Pack – Dedicated to ethical and responsible tourism.
Thanks for reading. Once day your traffic may even pay my phone bill.