Confession: I Have Been a Bad Travel Writer

And it’s not just that my computer’s been stressing out and spinning that color pinwheel in endless stuttering frustration.

It wasn’t that I traveled with friends or that I didn’t leave the US. It wasn’t that I went to a crusty music festival, or that I lounged in a private Hawaiian villa, or even that I slept till noon and stayed out till 4am chasing boys in a leopard print miniskirt (successful method, btw).

It was that I never made the switch, flipped my brain over into traveler mode. I didn’t push myself to explore, to dig in, to muck around and get dirty in the soul of a destination (no, getting covered in other people’s beer and sweat didn’t count).

It wasn’t that I was a “tourist instead of a traveler”—I was worse. I was a vacationer.

If tourists are the people following around umbrella-wielding tour guides, clicking shutters and buying cheesy trinkets and (sin of all sins) wearing fanny packs, vacationers are their drooling, sedated counterparts. We could really care less about whether a tour is culturally authentic or not; we don’t have the energy to get off our asses and go in the first place. We go to the same cafe over and over, buy the same sandwich, because it’s good and why bother finding another spot? We spend an hour staring into space. It there were a Sitting and Staring Olympics instead of a half-Ironman while I was in Hawaii, I would have won. (I have photographs that document my decent, but I’m currently not even able to upload anything onto my computer.)

I haven’t vacationed in years, maybe not ever, really—guiltlessly wasting days away. No notes taken, no itineraries feverishly followed, no long rambles down alien streets. So it wasn’t just that I barely wrote any posts while I was gone—it was that I wasn’t even traveling.

I had fun, and I certainly still have stories to tell. And while I “got away from it all” (really, people are on to something with this whole vacationing thing), I didn’t get away from myself. I talked a couple months ago about how I like who I am better when I travel, how I become what feels like a better version of myself, freer and happier and more at peace, enthralled with my surroundings instead of the hamster wheel of self-will. And while I was certainly a more relaxed version of myself these last 11 days, I was still Home Me, not Traveler Me.

So that’s what my brain will be chewing on while my laptop’s in the shop—or rather, what my brain won’t be chewing on. Not articles or blog posts and pitches—just the image of what I stared at along the Kona coast, what’s burned into my retina, like the pink is onto my skin: a hammock, a horizon and a pile of black rocks. I’ll take my computer crashing as a sign, a circumstantial nudging that I need to take a step back and keep on being a bad travel writer.

6 Responses to “Confession: I Have Been a Bad Travel Writer”

  1. 1 dianne June 7, 2010 at 9:38 pm

    yeah I get you girl, been doing a lot of thinking on that subject myself. I am sitting on a story here but trying to ignore it for lots of reasons so I can catch up on other work. I hate to ignore a story but its looking like a modern version of A fine Balance and that requires me to get my life in balance but…well thats not the point for a traveler.

  2. 2 Brett June 7, 2010 at 11:19 pm

    Circumstantial nudgings or not, don’t sweat it. Your blog is rocking strong and things are happening.


  3. 3 Hal Amen June 8, 2010 at 11:05 am

    Hey, just like not all travel writing needs to be about travel, not all trips need to be written about! Taking one for you and you only is healthy.

  4. 5 GRRRL TRAVELER June 8, 2010 at 4:06 pm

    OMG– I totally hear you! Way to go! Vacationing is a guilty pleasure when you consider yourself a traveler… we’ve learned to scoff at it a bit. But there’s something to be said for vacationing. Sometimes, I experience and don’t take out my digital camera at all. guilt… and then comes the most amazing feeling of freedom. LOL. Glad you enjoyed the islands! That’s my original home, so I’m actually glad you got to vacation it vs. travel it.

  1. 1 Indulging ideals versus indulging vices « MexiGo Pass Blog Trackback on June 9, 2010 at 12:48 pm
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Lauren Quinn is a writer and traveler currently living in Hanoi. Lonely Girl Travels was a blog of her sola travels and expat living from 2009 to 2012. She resides elsewhere on the internet now.

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