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Living Vicariously through a screen

I love to travel. From a short trip to the grocery store to a 22 hour cramped bus ride to Hunza I enjoy it all, the planning, the journey and the destination. My goal is to see at least 30 major cities of the world by the time I am thirty. However, as a student with a green passport that goal is an ambitious one. I love packing for a trip, I love airports and airplane food. I have seen 4 countries (UAE, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Thailand). The pandemic however put a stop to my (non-existent) plans for world domination (travel!!) so i had to find an alternative to combat my cabin fever. Behold, the beautiful world of Travel Vloggers.

From the comfort of the four walls of my room I traveled to a number of countries and cities via social media. And it was all for Free!! From a cruise in the Antarctic to food markets in South Korea, I’ve seen it all (virtually). The travel vlogging community is huge and you can find a number of different styles of videos in almost every country in the world. Since I have watched so many, I now have a preference for what kind of travel content I actually enjoy.

There are the commercial travel vloggers, like Eva Zu Beck, Luke Damant and Cynthia Ritchie. I use the word commercial, because travel vlogging/blogging is the main content they produce and they regularly work with sponsors such as local governments or companies etc. This is perhaps my least favorite style of travel vlogging, mainly because all their content is created and posted in styles to achieve the maximum number of views. You’ll regularly see captions like “free food” “$5 hotel room” “Pakistan is safe for women” “I got scammed”. Mostly made by overwhelmingly white Westerners, these videos are not only annoying but also perpetuate the oriental gaze through which these parts of the world are viewed. They are filled with poverty porn, complaining about being charged the foreigners fee and talking over locals when it comes to issues the third-world country they are visiting is facing. To put it as politely as possible, they are the most annoying kind of vloggers.

Martina (kitkat_ch) with her Volkswagen

That is not to say that all commercial travel vloggers are the same. My favorites are Martina (kitkat_ch) and Alex (LostWithPurpose), both of whom I have followed since 2013. While their content is mostly on Instagram instead of YouTube and they also do sponsored content, they are more responsible about the narrative they produce with it. Both of them are solo female travelers with Martina traveling in her iconic Volkswagen and Alex who is currently in Pakistan and has traveled through it extensively. They are sort of an inspiration to me as I also dream of traveling the world solo. But what I love most about their content is that it is responsible. They do not put the places they visit on pedestals, they are honest about both good and bad experiences of traveling and most of all, they recognize the privilege they have as white people traveling in third-world countries.

Alex (@lostwithpurpose)

Another one of my favorites and someone I just recently discovered is Hina Jafri (@hinarrates) . I really love travel vlogs/blogs that are extensive in their information about the places they travel to. Sharing every little thing from how much their food cost, what they ate to how to get a bus ticket. Suffering from severe cabin fever I need to feel like I am on the trip with them and I love Hina’s style because she shares every single detail. So whether I’m pretending I’m traveling through a screen or if I eventually do travel to the place in the future her content is helpful in both ways.

Lastly, another style of videos I really enjoy is vlogs with chill low-fi music in the background. This style of vlogging I have noticed is more common in east Asian vloggers than those from the west. Less talking, more showing the travel aspect and sharing details accompanied by sounds of nature or very low-fi relaxing music. It allows you to enjoy the view and also get interesting bits of information. Kieun Choi is my current favorite.

All in all, travel vlogging is an interesting form of escapism and it is my chosen way to keep myself sane until I become rich enough to travel as much as I want. Who are some you favorite travel vloggers or content creators? Let me know and I will check them out!

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