Losing friends because I’m a travel blogger: I’m not the problem, You are

We all know someone who knows someone who’s obsessed with traveling and shares tons of photos and updates on their social media accounts.

Whether they’re sweaty low-budget backpackers (solo or not) or wanderlusting fashionistas. Insta-famous influencers or sporty GoPro-vloggers. Trendy bloggers or old school novelists. Travelers who use modern day technology to document their journey from point A to point B to wherever it is their bucket list takes them. Those who Photoshop their photos so much it doesn’t even look like a real photo anymore – and those who keep it real and refuse to edit out any scaffolding, photobombing tourists or even pimples and mosquito bites.

I, too, am a wanderlusting blogger. Often sweaty, sometimes sort of fashionable-ish (mostly not). And just like all these digital nomads (and fabulous tourists) mentioned above, I also want to tell a story and inspire others to live life to the fullest.
Yes, I want to inspire people to take a leap of faith and just go. Explore the world. Book a plane ticket to your dream destination and never look back. Not just because traveling is fun and educational, but it will teach you how to be an independent individual.

And less of a picky eater.
And better yet, you will gain self-confidence. Lots of it. Trust me.

Heck, I’ll be happy even if I can inspire you to try a dish you never dared to try before. Or learn a few words in a different language. Or even just get you out of the house and take the bus or train to a different city and at least explore somewhere new even for just a day.

I love reading sunshine stories about people who went somewhere and did something because someone else inspired them to follow their dreams. I love when people I know (as well as people I don’t know) tell me they finally had the courage to embark on their first ever solo trip thanks to me. These people are the main reason I’m blogging and sharing updates from my travels on all my social media platforms.

But as we all know, being a blogger – no matter how big or small your blog is – comes with a risk. The risk of endless conversations with your parents who worry about you because you’re exposing yourself too much and living in a delusional bubble instead of taking that office desk job and marrying the nice guy you once introduced to your parents, then dumped because he was boring.

And then there’s the risk of losing friends. Old friends, new friends, best friends.

I’ve read tons of articles on this strange consequence of blogging.

Lonely travelers who lost all their friends due to jealousy and bitterness, and stories about friends growing apart and losing touch because of different schedules and lifestyles. The traveler who won’t settle down versus the friend back home who just “doesn’t get it” when you tell them how weird it feels to be back and how you don’t even know where home is anymore.

Most of my old friends are busy getting married, having babies, working their 9-5 jobs and spamming my news feed with “Game of Thrones”-spoilers and photos of their cats, dogs or children.

And here I am, not posting a single photo or status update on Facebook anymore – as I’m worried I’ll end up completely friendless if I do. You see, there’s a whole lot of people who’ve unfriended me and stopped talking to me after I started traveling a lot.

Yes, I might have shared perhaps a little too many photos from my adventures abroad. I’m sorry (not sorry), but I’m proud of myself and my accomplishments. Why wouldn’t I be?

Yes, I am guilty of previously bombarding my feed with photos, status updates and geotags every time I traveled to a new, exciting destination.

But, does that make me a bad friend? 

Looking at it from a different perspective, I guess what I viewed as memories worth sharing with the people I love, was viewed by them as annoying spam by an even more annoying person: me. The friend turned traveler. Solo traveler. And even worse; blogger. And to top it all off; Instagram Influencer. Yuck.
I guess they liked me better as a person before I became a “show-off”, and I completely understand how the word “influencer” will make some people want to vomit. It just sounds so…so… narcissistic. Right?

At one point, I did in fact wonder.

Had I crossed over to the dark side and become something hideous?

Was I, in fact, a narcissist? 

Are all travel bloggers narcissistic douche bags who just won’t stay grounded (literally and figuratively) or are we just misunderstood?

Are we influential storytellers or are we all just a bunch of annoying attention seekers?

Well, if a blogger is happy doing what they do and is causing no harm to anyone while doing it, it can’t be all that bad – can it?

Just how beauty is in the eye of the beholder and one person’s trash is another person’s treasure; bloggers are beautiful treasures to some – and complete trash to others. Digital nomads, traveling fashionistas and soul-searching writers are not self-centered for having a desire to share. They only do what makes them happy – and inspire others to do the same. That’s a good thing, no?

Before I was a blogger, I was a solo traveler with a half-tassed Tumblr blog and Instagram account, both full of photos with captions posted for myself to enjoy, like an online photo journal.

Turned out, people enjoyed reading my little captions and viewing my photos – so I decided to take it all to the next level and put my whole heart, soul and energy into creating enjoyable content for friends, family and complete strangers alike.

Before I was a solo traveler, I was…lost.

Before I expatriated to the US, and before I embarked on my first ever solo trip, I was stuck in a relationship I didn’t want to be in, and I had a 9-5 office desk job I couldn’t stand and I cried myself to sleep more often than not, without even knowing why I was sad. The feeling of emptiness and worthlessness was tearing me up inside and breaking me down.

My self-esteem was non-existent.

At work, I wasn’t good at what I did, and I never tried to make any effort to improve my skills. I just didn’t give a shit. I didn’t feel passionate about my work, my after-work activities, or anything else.
Like I said, I was lost. Before I became who I am today, I believed my life had no purpose and I had no reason to be living it. And strangely enough, this was all while still having a lot of friends. When I was that person. The sad downer with no drive, no passion, nothing.

Today, I am happy. I have a burning desire to create fun content, I have goals, hopes and dreams – and I have plenty of interesting stories to tell about places I’ve been, things I’ve seen and people I’ve met. I am an independent and confident woman. A healthier (but fatter) and better person than I was back then.

But most of my friends are long gone.

So, what happened?

Well. Let me just tell you what happened last time I saw an old friend who’d been ghosting me for a while after I found my happiness. We were at a coffeeshop and she was telling me about this trip she was planning, and told me she’d probably have to travel solo as most of her other friends were too busy to tag along. I volunteered to join her (I mean, I was her friend, wasn’t I?) and she immediately changed the subject.

And then she said; “Can I just ask you; how on earth did you get all those followers on Instagram? I mean, your photos aren’t even that good”.

The hours spent sipping coffee awkwardly with this old friend of mine were nothing but uncomfortable and I believe we’d both been better off if she’d just continued ghosting me and kept her thoughts to herself.

This girl was just one out of many people who for some reason decided version 2.0 of me was a shitty update with too much fancy stuff going on, compared to the previous version.

It’s hard to say goodbye, but sometimes you just have to let go.

If a person can’t be happy for you, they were never really a good friend in the first place.

Thanks to my curious nature and travel-addiction, I’ve met a lot of wonderful people who love to travel just as much as I do. I’ve met inspirational bloggers, vloggers and backpacking nomads from all over the world – and I’ve learned to really appreciate my friends back home.

The handful of friends who didn’t walk away when my life changed to the better. The ones who stayed to cheer me on, instead.

Those are the friends who will be enjoying room-service with me at a charming hotel in the south of France (for a complimentary stay) or get drunk with me at a beer festival in Germany (when sponsored).

Just saying.

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Panama Series: Cool and Colorful Pedasi

Headed 210 kilometers, direction south, ready to exchange the steep hills and windy weather with sunshine and sandy beaches on the Pacific coastline. We had absolutely no activities planned for the day, besides drinking cocktails, soaking up some sun and cool down in the water. I’m fine with that…When it’s just for a day. What you should know about me is that I’m someone who gets easily bored and I actually hate sunbathing (which is why I’m always pale) and swimming in the sea gets kind of boring after a while, when there’s no other activity involved (such as snorkeling, volleyball or whatever).

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We made it to one of the most colorful towns I had ever seen. Modern street art on every white wall, vibrant colored houses, colorful fountains – and a huge sign welcoming us as we entered the town. “Pedasi” was written in multicolored capital letters, with a much more subtle hashtag “visit Panama” below. I remembered to add that hashtag to everything posted on my social media platforms from then on. Maybe the local tourism board would notice me and give me some freebies? Or at least a friendly discount on one of the local tours – or maybe a free drink somewhere? Note; none of that never happened. 

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Our hotel, Residencial Santa Catalina , was conveniently located in the town center and had all the facilities we needed. As we’d already been on the road for a good week, we figured it was a good idea to use the laundry service provided by the hotel. Although there wasn’t really any laundry service on-site. Still, the receptionist offered to take our laundry elsewhere and have it done for us and didn’t even ask for any payment. Fair enough. Later that evening, we received our freshly washed laundry – folded and everything. Even my tiny underwear was folded. As a very sensitive person, I got ridiculously emotional looking at my pile of folded undies and once smelly hiking wear that now smelled like a rose garden. I think my boyfriend’s mother felt the same way, as we both had the idea to leave the lady a generous tip. It would have been even more generous, had we known what would happen at another hotel, four days later..

What was supposed to be one of the nicer beaches in the area, was a little drive outside of town, so we took the car and went to check it out. The beach was crowded. People, their dogs, parked cars and lots of non-recyclable trash everywhere. Lovely. We stopped to take a few pictures and got back in the car to locate another supposedly nice beach. With some help from Google, rather than our outdated guidebook, we managed to find one. This one was way less crowded, and a little less littered than the other one. We decided to stay.

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Nobody were in the water except from us and a bunch of tiny grey fish jumping out of the water and dancing around us. Fish in Panama seem to be a lot less afraid of people than fish anywhere else I’ve been. Why is that?

I enjoyed the moment to the fullest. The clear blue sky, the sunshine, the crystal clear water, the calm atmosphere, the escape from time… and it all came crashing down when we witnessed a dog taking a dump right in front of us, and watched the waves crash into his fresh produce. “That’s it, I’m out”, I said to everyone and got out of the water. Yes, I know there’s probably a lot more poo in the water than just this one – after all, fish poo in it. I just never felt the need to witness it in action. And where were the owners of the dog anyway?

As soon as we made it back to the hotel, I jumped into the shower and washed every inch of my body while picturing myself being completely covered in poo. I guess this phobia comes from an old childhood trauma of mine. I’ll tell you the story. So, my dad and I, went to Greece when I was fourteen years old, a year after my mother divorced him. He didn’t like the overcrowded beaches, and neither did I, so we walked along the beach, probably two kilometers or more, in search of a more secluded place. And we found one. There were literally no one there. Just us. It was simply too good to be true. We jumped right in. It smelled kind of weird there, but we didn’t think much of it….that was until we saw a “no swimming” sign, sewage pipes and…you guessed it, POO. Lot’s of it. Terrified, we ran out of the water as if we were running away from sharks, and headed directly to the hotel to get rid of the feces glued to our skin. Awful.

Meanwhile in Panama, I finished my shower and put on a nice skirt and one of my favorite shirts (which my boyfriend refers to as one of my hippie shirts). I was all set and thirsty for cocktails. We discovered a Mexican restaurant called Tortuga’s – a great place for fajitas, tacos and homemade cocktails (which included fresh juice). The food was good and service was great. Our French-Canadian waitress seemed quite relieved when she realized she didn’t have to speak English with us as we are all French speakers. Immediately, she went from nervous to relaxed and talkative and let her bubbly personality shine through.

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Our lazy day in Pedasi had been an interesting one. A similar kind of day in a different destination was lined up for the following day. Next stop, Santa Catalina!