The truth behind travel blogs

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I came across a hilarious essay in The New Yorker this week titled “Why I Quit My Job to Travel the World.” It’s a satirical take on so many travel bloggers’ mantras and honestly, it’s a breath of fresh air. Read the whole essay if you get a chance. For now, here’s a taste:

On paper, my life seemed great. I had a dream job, a swanky apartment, and a loving girlfriend. But something was off. I couldn’t bear being chained to my desk in a stuffy office any longer. So I decided to quit and travel the world, bringing only my passport, a small backpack, and my enormous trust fund…

My first few months roaming the world were life-changing. Every day, I updated my Instagram with photos of my favorite sights: cones filled with scoops of glistening gelato; my hand lightly resting on a café table, near an early edition of “On the Road”; selfies of me hugging depressed tigers too stoned on sedatives to drown themselves. Still, I needed to see more. My wanderlust had turned me into a wanderslut.

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You may read my blog and think that I am one of these people. Meanwhile, I’m reading other travel blogs and thinking they are one of these people. (OK, so I am totally guilty of Instagramming gelato…) but the truth is I’m not someone who quit “real life,” travels the world no strings attached and never feels a pang for putting down roots in the U.S.

Here’s the truth.

We live in Switzerland thanks to my husband’s job. We didn’t leave everything behind to travel the world. We didn’t quit life; life goes on here. We are Swiss residents. We pay taxes here. We work here. We grocery shop, do laundry, clean the bath tub and go to the dentist here. It costs money to live abroad and a whole lot more of it to live in Switzerland.

What we did gain by moving here is proximity to most of Europe. Paris is three hours by train. Dublin, Prague and Florence are less than two hours by plane. It’s amazing. We can’t get enough of it. But it costs money and we’ve made sacrifices to make it happen. We rarely go out to restaurants in Geneva. We rarely shop for clothes or go to the movies. We funnel our money instead into our travel addiction. We have gained so much in intangible life experiences by seeing the world, but it comes at a price–both financial and emotional.

I miss Saturday brunches with my friends, monthly pedicures and my old job. I miss weddings and baby showers and little moments with my nephew. I miss my family. I still love the choice we have made, but I would never look down on the choice to live near family and put down roots. That sounds lovely.

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Oh and that Instagram photo of gelato? It took me five takes to get the right lighting and a walk around the block to find a signal to get it online. That’s the truth.

Some more of my musings on expat life:

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24 thoughts on “The truth behind travel blogs

  1. Jill Regan says:

    You are missed Paige! But….. Reading your blog keeps everyone closer to you. What an experience for you and Bryce. Wish we had an overseas opportunity way back when.

  2. A Broad at Home says:

    Thanks for sharing that essay—so funny and relatable! ; ) It’s so true about the unique trade offs we experience here as expats. Our friends were here for a week and seeing them go today pulled at my heartstrings. We miss people from the US! But living here is incredible and I know we’re not ready for a big change yet. Too many places to see still!

  3. The Travel Bug. says:

    This is pretty enlightening… I love the truth of it. You can’t have it all…but the travel lifestyle is worth it I would say.

  4. Mel & Suan says:

    We know this post was from 4 months back but could not hold back from giving our 2 cents. Your story sounded like ours except our base was Amsterdam (nicer we think! Sorry). At some point in time you will likely return like a flock of migratory birds to roost at home – where you left roots behind that is. But while you are out there make the most of it to see, smell and feel life in a different land.

  5. Katelyn says:

    I’ve been looking into travel blogging and it truly helps to have a nice taste of truth among the rest of the “Oh my gosh my life is perfect” advice givers.

  6. Liz C. says:

    I like how you talk about the real deal here, not just the good parts of traveling.. but the reality behind it all. It’s still nice to see people traveling around the world, but it’s good to know that you worked hard to see those wonderful places too. It’s not a fairytale, but something that comes with a cost.

  7. shamimsobhani says:

    I admire how you sacrificed the common comfort in your daily life back home to go live in Switzerland. With every sacrifice comes greater things… You know, very few people do that in comparison to how many people stay put in their home country. And the mini car in your featured image is a great representation of Europe and how we have bite sized things 😉

  8. theeagertraveler says:

    Lol funny, i’m contemplating move to the Uk with my husband – he has an oppty with work and we want to do it to be closer to other European countries so we can travel because yes I”m addicted and tired of trying to find ways to travel beyond my allotted vacation days in the U.S. And i always wondered about leaving my amazing life here behind – my friends, family, all the things that are part of my daily routine. But for a chance to be closer to Florence and Prague and all those other gorgeous places…..I figured yolo. 🙂 Great post!

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