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Kicking Travel Consumerism to the Curb

Kicking Travel Consumerism to the Curb

Being able to achieve what our hearts truly desire, I believe, is our life’s purpose. Whether that is true love, traveling to Nepal, or finally owning your home is up to you and cannot be decided for you. Not by society, not by a company, and not by another individual.

Having grown up in the United States, I am no stranger to consumerism culture.

I grew up thinking that success and happiness meant having the nicest and newest things. My parents would drop thousands of dollars on Christmas presents every year. They owned two vehicles, a boat, and their house. We lived in a neighborhood filled pristine lawns and two-car garages.

We had it all until we didn’t.

Due a combination of familial issues, unemployment, and the economy, my family lost it all. My mother, my two siblings, and I found ourselves living in a mobile home on a single income, barely scraping by.

I was not “happy” in the traditional sense of the word, but I felt more content, loved, and assured than I had ever felt in my life.

Most people will tell you that money doesn’t buy happiness. But man, do we try to make it happen.

Travel Consumerism Items

Even the most frugal and “conscious” often fall victim to the “if only I just had this ONE thing” mentality. We buy into the idea that it will make our lives easier or more enjoyable. It will help us make new friends or feel better about our appearance. It becomes difficult to distinguish between Need and Want.

Lately we can see this movement from spending money on THINGS to spending money on EXPERIENCES. I see this as a great thing. The desire to travel to experience the world has been on the rise, particularly for Americans. We are breaking outside our “bubble” and seeing what the world has to offer.

The value of travel cannot be understated, but HOW and WHY we travel must be examined through a more critical lens. Where there is money to be made, there is an opportunity for commodification and consumerism. There is always a way to want more.

The question then becomes…

 Are we truly traveling as an experience, or is it simply another way to buy happiness?

We often justify our spending on “experiences” because how we spend time with others and what we see and do is more salient in our lives than what we buy and own.

What I see happening though, is people saying things like “you NEED to travel” and that infamous quote, “Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer”. The focus is still on “necessity” and monetary value.

What is travel consumerism?

In reality, there are companies and individuals that exist to make money off of tourism and adventure travel. The dark underbelly of your favorite Instagram account may be tourism and product companies hoping to make a buck. The ethics of this won’t be discussed in this post, but it is this system that breeds consumerism and a “more is more” mentality. It is not unique to travel or any industry in particular. At its core, it thrives off of the idea that happiness can be bought at a price, rather through goods or experiences.

This idea that travel is necessary for happiness or to have a fulfilling life is problematic.

Not everyone has the ability or means to travel. It is simply not accessible to everyone.

I refuse to believe that happiness is not accessible to everyone.

There are many ways to achieve happiness, and they are unique to each and every person.

For many, travel is not financially feasible. For others, it is a physical or psychological impossibility.

It is possible to live an enriching life without ever purchasing a plane ticket.

It sets people up for failure.

If you think traveling alone will make you happy, you will be let down.

Any time your worth and joy depends on one thing (whether it is a product, person, or an experience), you are setting yourself up for disappointment. Plans go awry. Things break. People are imperfect. Only you can create happiness for yourself.

Going in with high expectations is not necessarily a bad thing, but be aware that travel often tests you in the most unexpected of ways. I can assure you, things NEVER go exactly according to plan. Life is often unpredictable, and it is that way no matter where you are in the world.

It gets expensive.

Travel Consumerism Resort

Traveling is not free by any means. It involves money and time to plan a trip; whether that depends on your own funds, sponsorship, or a friend who is lending a hand. There can be many ways to reduce the costs of travel, but in reality, it is an experience that depends on a combination of opportunity and resources.

As stated, where there is money to be made, you will find people waiting to claim their piece of the pie. Endless companies and individuals are lining up to sell you the latest travel gadget, tour, plane ticket, hotel booking, or adventure. Many of these are great experiences and others… not so much. You don’t always get the best bang for your buck, and even when you do, you are liking to find another product that is ripe for the purchasing. Next thing you know, cameras and sundresses are out, and drones and floppy hats are in. There will always be the Next Best Thing.

Travel can be expensive but it doesn’t have to be.

These costs can add up, and travelers are often looking for the best deals. “Budget travel” is becoming more popular. There are great ways to cut costs and live with a more minimalist mentality. In fact, the NEED to travel may not be a need at all.

Traveling won’t make you happier on its own. Your mindset will.

Going on a trip may expose you to different cultures.

Whether that encourages you to feel gratitude about your life back home is up to you.

Traveling solo may test your patience and independence.

Whether you come back with a new sense of confidence and self-worth is up to you.

Going to another part of the world may cause you to face your fears.

Whether you choose to overcome them and adventure on is up to you.

I used to think that traveling would make me happy. I saw it as a huge open door of possibilities. What I didn’t foresee was traveling being challenging, exhausting, trying, uncomfortable, anxiety-inducing, lonely… the list goes on and on.

I quickly realized that I am the same person in any other part of the world as I am back home. No amount of travel could change the fact that I have very real insecurities and fears. I realized I would need to face these head-on and change my attitude. I could allow travel to paralyze me, or I could choose to come out on top. It was my choice and mentality that made the difference.

More travel does not equate to more happiness.

Travel Consumerism Photographs

We all have read those stories. A spontaneous twenty-something that has dropped it all to travel the world for a year (or indefinitely). Chances are, you want to be them, and no shame in that. There is something so inspiring about people who give up a life of convention to follow their dreams.

At the same time, there is much less glorification of people who have “given up” their life of travel to settle down. Sometimes it is temporary and sometimes it is for good. These people often describe feeling burnt out, or say that they simply need a “break”. Perhaps these stories are not the norm, or perhaps they aren’t as popular. Either way, they are a testament to the fact that more travel doesn’t necessarily assure a life of endless bliss.

I believe it is perfectly possible to live a life of constant and unending travel and be incredibly happy. I don’t think this kind of life is for everyone. Many bloggers, movies, books, etc. sell us this idea as a dream “lifestyle”. There is a way to purchase it- through ebooks, “get rich quick” tips, and tour packages. We can ogle our favorite bloggers on Instagram in hopes of being them. Whether this is possible or not is beside the point.

You cannot buy happiness, whether it is through travel, a new outfit, a college education, or that puppy you have always wanted. Eventually you will begin searching for more- the next great destination, the new travel trend.

No matter how many places are on your bucket list, there are people and companies that aim to make a profit off of consumerist travel culture. They will “wine and dine” you with the best places to eat in X and the top hotels in Y and Z.

If travel is your passion, take a step back and consider why you want to go where you want to go. Is it because a listicle told you the Best Destinations of 2017? Is it because you saw a beautiful photo on Instagram?

Nothing wrong with any of those reasons.

But I encourage you not to be sold out. I encourage you to consider how this idea of travel is another product ready to be sold to you by others who may not have your best interests in mind. I also hope that you travel the world on your terms, in hopes of creating happiness for YOURSELF.

If travel is your dream, do it.

Travel Consumerism Destinations

If you have the means and ability and desire to travel, do it. If there is a call in your heart to just go, then listen to it, because that call is real and important.

This post is not to discourage you from living a life full of travel and adventures.

I have heard the call myself and I plan on traveling wherever I can and as often as I am able to.

There are parts of the world I simply want to see and experience for myself. I recognize the privilege I have to be able to do that.

We all have those moments when we just KNOW what we need to do. No one can determine it for you, and no one can make it happen for you. You can’t purchase it with money and you can’t buy it through experiences.

Being able to achieve what our hearts truly desire, I believe, is our life’s purpose. Whether that is true love, traveling to Nepal, or finally owning your home is up to you and cannot be decided for you. Not by society, not by a company, and not by another individual.

When your heart and soul yearns for more, listen to it, just be sure than the call for “more” is genuine and authentic.

Sometimes it is okay to have and be enough.

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10 Easy Carry On Essentials for a Long Haul Flight

10 Easy Carry On Essentials for a Long Haul Flight

The ten carry on essentials you should bring for a comfortable, enjoyable flight.

I do quite a bit of flying.

Having been on 6 flights in the past year and planning for several more in the coming months, I am familiar with the ins and outs of comfortable flying.

The longest flight I have been on was a ten hour flight from Seattle to Taiwan. Long flights require a bit more preparation, energy, and time than shorter trips. I say time here because long flights can be B O R I N G. Who wants to sit in one spot for 6+ hours at a time? Not me! That being said, it is often a necessary inconvenience if you have a passion for travel.

You don’t need to spend a ton of money on the latest gadgets to have a comfortable experience. This list includes items that you probably already have, with a few suggestions to make your long haul flight more enjoyable. I have written this list of carry on essentials in the hope that you will feel prepared, happy, and comfortable the next time you fly!

10 Easy Carry On Essentials for a Long Haul Flight

1. Water

Carry On Water Bottle

This can be an easy thing to overlook because the assumption is that water will be provided for you on the plane. This is true, but it is usually not nearly enough. Most of the time, you are given a small cup and can get a refill every few minutes or so (if the attendants aren’t busy). In reality, you will need much more water than you would expect, because the cabin air is especially dehydrating. I always bring my own large bottle of water (purchased after security) so I never have to do without. It will keep you feeling refreshed and prevent headaches!

2. Snacks

Carry On Snacks

I am constantly eating. Apparently it is a sign of a fast-metabolism, but I can’t go more than an hour without eating something. Long flights usually include one or two meals (depending on the length of the flight), but this may not be enough to sustain you for the entire trip. Whether you bring your own snacks from home (that meet the requirements for security), or get them at the airport, try to bring at least a few snacks in case you get hungry. There’s nothing worse than having your stomach growl for hours on end, or eventually opting to pay $10 for an additional meal. I recommend snacks high in protein to keep you feeling fuller, longer. Avoid sugary snacks and drinks, which can be dehydrating.

3. Comfortable Clothing

Carry On Clothes

This may seem like a no-brainer, but it is easy to underestimate how uncomfortable long flights can be. Sitting for 3-5 hours is surely not the most enjoyable experience, but a 10 hour flight can be a roller coaster of being too hot, too cold, too itchy, too frumpy over and over again. Layering is key! If you are traveling from a hot to cold climate, or vice versa, this is especially important to keep in mind. When I arrived back from 90 degree Costa Rica, I found myself in snowy Seattle with only a sundress and flip flops on. Don’t make the same mistake that I did!

Here’s my Go-To Outfit

  • Leggings (comfortable for sleeping and easy to style)
  • Flats (can slip on and off during security and while sleeping)
  • Tank Top (in case I get too hot)
  • T-shirt or long sleeve shirt
  • Sweatshirt (in case I get too cold)
  • Optional: rain jacket or windbreaker depending on the climate
  • Minimal jewelry
  • Hair tie (just in case I want it up out of the way)
  • Socks (for keeping feet warm)
  • Underwear (I always bring an extra pair)

4. Neck/Sleeping Pillow

Carry On Neck Pillow

I’ll be honest, I used to think neck pillows were ridiculous. I understood the concept behind them but I resolved to never get one because I thought I could just “stick it out”. Well, inevitably, I caved. It may be possible to make it through a shorter flight without a pillow and even get some shuteye, but with a long flight it is much more difficult. If you are like most people and traveling coach class, it can be nearly impossible to find a comfortable position. Neck pillows provide ample support for your neck and a place to rest your head. There are many great options on the market, so find something that works best for you. Don’t wait until the airport like I did because they are much more expensive there!

5. Ear Plugs and/or Headphones

Carry On Headphones

Having a good pair of comfortable (preferably noise cancelling ) headphones is such a must. Ear plugs may help if you are trying to get some sleep as well. I like bringing headphones because they are often more comfortable than the ones provided for in-flight movies, and give me the ability to listen to my own music on the plane. I found this out the hard way when the provided headphones kept slipping off of my head and hurting my ears. Also, being able to listen to your own music will help you fall asleep when you are trying to beat the jet lag.

6. Hand Sanitizer/ Wipes

Carry on wipes

Planes are pretty gross, no doubt about that. Thousands of people fly on airplanes every day, carrying with them a variety of illnesses, conditions, and hygiene standards. It a good idea to do what you can to prevent from getting sick. That’s why one of my top carry on essentials is hand sanitizer. Antibacterial wipes also allow you to wipe off surfaces (like trays, handles, and headphones) before you touch them. Just be sure that you bring sizes that meet security requirements.

7. Entertainment

Carry On book

Keep in mind that there is often no way for you to charge electronics like tablets, laptops, phones, and iPods on a plane. I love to bring my tablet along to watch pre-downloaded movies, but sometimes the battery doesn’t last the full ten hours. Keep in mind that you WILL get bored, so the more things to keep you preoccupied, the better. Books, games, notebooks, etc. really help to eat up the time. Don’t assume that bringing a single book will be enough to keep you occupied for the entire flights. Bring a couple of options and you will be good to go.

8. Gum/Medications/Sleep Aids

Carry On Medications

Make sure that you have the medications that you need for a long flight. These should be safely kept in your carry-on, even if you THINK you won’t need them. It is always better to have them on hand “just in case”. This also applies to feminine hygiene products. Some people find it helpful to have sleep aids (medications) to help them rest. I have never used these myself, but be careful to read the instructions carefully and know whether or not it is safe to consume alcohol with them. Additionally, chewing gum can help to relieve the pressure in your ears during takeoff and landing.

9. Movement/Compression Socks

carry on compression socks

I had never heard of compression socks or Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) until I was researching how to prepare for long flights. Sitting still for long periods of time can lead to dangerous blood clots and other complications. Try to walk around the cabin every few hours or so, and move around after sitting in a position for too long. Compression socks can also help prevent DVT.

10. Toiletries

carry on toiletries

These items vary from person to person, and really depend on your style and needs. While I prefer not to wear makeup while flying, I know this is not the case for everyone. Bring whatever you think you will need to make you feel fresh- whether that is lip balm, moisturizer, face wipes, makeup, eye drops, whatever. I would say to avoid heavy scents to be courteous to other passengers. Consider bringing items that will help you feel moisturized. As I mentioned, long flights can be very dehydrating.

My Carry On Essentials:

  • Toothbrush and paste
  • Lip balm
  • Face/body wipes
  • Deodorant
  • Moisturizer/Lotion
  • Small hairbrush or comb
  • Scented body spray (for after landing)

I hope you found this list of carry on essentials useful and enjoyable. Feel free to comment with your favorite must haves in the comments below!

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The Art of Keeping a Custom Travel Journal

The Art of Keeping a Custom Travel Journal

I love to doodle! Here at Doodle Me Travel, I’m all about it… obviously!

Countless sources have talked about the benefits of doodling. Many cite increased productivity, creative problem solving, and concentration as key traits of a constant doodler. Whether you doodle in your school notebook or on sticky notes in the office, it’s likely that this is a habit you don’t plan on breaking any time soon. After all, doodling is fun, silly, and an entertaining creative outlet. You won’t get any doodle shame from me!

custom travel journal

 

If you doodle at home or in the office, why wouldn’t you doodle abroad as well? In fact, I’m here to tell you about the many creative ways doodling can be incorporated into your travels through keeping a custom travel journal.

 

The reasons someone might write down their personal thoughts and feelings in a diary are some of the same reasons someone may start a travel journal. Of course there are many ways to keep an account of your travels, but none as unique as one that showcases your own personal artwork. Photography and blogging may be great ways to capture the essence of a destination, but doodling adds that personal touch that is often lacking in the vast sea of travel photographs and posts.

That’s not to say that your travel journal can’t be completely digital, but doodling creates something that is unique to every other traveler’s experience.

Here’s how you can get started…

  1. You Don’t Have to be a (Good) Artist

    custom travel journal

I believe everyone is an artist, and the word “good” is extremely relative. However, I understand the nervousness around not wanting to do something because you don’t think you are “good” enough. This has more to do with confidence than ability. Remember, no one has to see it if you don’t want them to. I know drawing can be highly personal (which is why I think it can add to the travel experience) and sharing that can seem a little nerve wracking. Try not to judge your ability at the expense of something you love to do. Over time, you WILL get better and your confidence will grow. At the same time, I have yet to meet a single artist that is 100% confident 100% of the time. A travel journal isn’t about showcasing your abilities to the world. It is about being creative, inspiring yourself, and keeping an account of your unique experiences. Chances are you will inspire more people to keep a custom travel journal too!

  1. Find an Outlet

custom travel journal

This can be a physical journal, an online gallery, or simply a collection of scratch paper you pick up during your travels. The first step in beginning a travel journal is having a place to put your doodles along the way. I use a unique travel journal in combination with my Doodle Me Travel blog. This way, I can scribble down my thoughts and drawings on-the-go, or create some digital artwork on my tablet.  Sometimes it can be fun to collect travel brochures and doodle on those, or maybe you want to doodle on your own photos you take along the way. There is no right or wrong answer, so choose something that works best for you.

  1. Bring it With You

custom travel journal

The obvious step in keeping a travel journal is having it with you during your travels. This doesn’t have to be all the time, but it can be handy to have it with you when creative inspiration strikes. My journal is small and lightweight, so I can easily carry it with me in my day pack wherever I go. When I’m on a long bus ride or enjoying a beautiful view, I can doodle to my heart’s content. Keep it on hand and you will never be lacking of something creative to do.

  1. Notice Things

custom travel journal

My favorite part of keeping a travel journal is that it keeps be grounded. Taking a photograph may  capture the moment, but it is easy to just keep walking and looking for the next Instagram-worthy scene. In taking the time to doodle what you see, you spend more time absorbing what the moment has to offer. By doodling as you travel, you take in the smaller things, like the shading cast by a tree on a historic building, or the details on a person’s traditional clothing. A photograph makes an exact copy of what the eye can see, but creating a memory is something that can never be copied or replaced. Take the time to notice the things around you, jot down your thoughts, and doodle what you see and feel.

  1. Look, Remember, Redraw

custom travel journal

I love referring back to my travel journal to remember the things I’ve done and the places I’ve been. I like seeing my in-the-moment interpretation of a destination, and reading about how I felt while I was there. Often, I go back and add to drawings, like shading and adding some color. My travel journal is a constantly evolving thing. With every new experience, you will learn something, and that may change how you originally felt about a time, place, or person. Great memories and experiences replace bad ones and vice versa. Your travel journal doesn’t have to be linear or stagnant. When you revisit a location, perhaps add to that page, or start a new drawing all together. Allowing yourself that creative freedom is what doodling is all about.

 

Keeping a custom travel journal of your doodles along the way can be a great way to add that personal touch to your experiences abroad. I love doodling because it keeps the creative juices flowing no matter where I am, and helps me notice the finer details of a place that may otherwise go unnoticed. Whether you do your doodles online, in a notebook, or on a paper napkin, I hope you have felt inspired by this post to keep doing what you love to do!

 

custom travel journal

travel journal
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Places, Things, and Letting Go

Places, Things, and Letting Go

The car that has been my own for 5 years and one of the greatest luxuries of my life.

I’ve taken road trips in that car. Hooked up in that car. Rear-ended people on the freeway in that car.

letting go

Selling it was weirdly emotional. Too emotional. So emotional that I had to stop and ask what the fuck was wrong with me.

I mean, first off, I sold the car to my sister so at least I get visitation rights. It went to a happy home and I feel at peace giving it to her.

And I don’t need a car in Seattle. I don’t really need a car, period, since I plan on traveling around the world.

So why was selling it such a big deal?

 

You may expect this post to be a lecture on materialism, greed, and what’s wrong with society. It’s not.

It’s a lesson on letting go.

And more specifically, moving forward.

 

I was attached to my car for a multitude of reasons.

But what’s really important is why I wanted to sell it in the first place.

Money.

That “evil” thing that you sometimes need in order to make your dreams a reality.

I sold my car because I want money to travel more.

But selling my car quickly became a symbol for the beginning of a new chapter in my life. An exciting, fulfilling, and scary one.

letting go

Everyone has that moment. The moment where they are faced with decision on which direction to go, what career to pursue, which Prince to marry, etc.

And that decision is usually a difficult one. It is the difference between comfort, and self-actualization.

Keeping my car would mean staying in Seattle for longer. It would mean more insurance payments, staying at my job for longer, postponing my trips.

But selling it also mean that when and if I came back to Seattle, I wouldn’t have that security to fall back on.

And what’s scary about that to me is that it is a material security.

 

I have loved ones in Seattle. I have a life here. I love it here.

If I came back to live in Seattle, I would have security in a multitude of ways.

But I don’t want my life to be about my attachment to things and places.

beaches of puerto viejo

I want to be attached to ideas. Dreams. Love. Goals. Morals.

Because those things follow your wherever you are.

Recently I have had a very hard time with letting things go. It’s mostly been out of fear of the unknown.

It has created this tension inside me. I know in my heart what I want to do, but I have things holding me back.

They are things that I have attached superficial meaning to, and I know that these meanings will not last forever.

letting go

If I don’t let them go, they keep me from becoming the best version of myself- the person I want to be.

This not a call to “leave it all behind and travel the world”. There are definitely things worth holding onto.

I will miss my family wherever I go. I will still be a caring and compassionate person. I will still have a love for art, adventure, and activism.

But no more tears will be shed over a car. Or an apartment. Or the boxes of crap I am going to sell on Craigslist.

 

Because as cliché as it sounds, I know that that stuff means nothing in the grand scheme of things.

There will always be more STUFF. I want to invest in experiences.

What is that STUFF in your life that you need to let go of? Is it keeping you from being the person you want to be?

If so, you know what to do…

 

letting go
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