A reaction to Elite Daily’s article, “Why Telling People ‘To Drop Everything And Go’ Is Completely Unrealistic.”
It is Sunday night, which can only mean one thing. I’m sitting pretzel-legged at the counter with a cup of milky English breakfast tea, playing with my display brightness and mulling over topics for today’s Jetset Times article. My mind drifted toward an article I read on Elite Daily today, written by Alexia Lafata, that made me want to throw her laptop and bitch-slap her with her passport.
The article is titled “Why Telling People ‘To Drop Everything And Go’ Is Completely Unrealistic.”
Let me begin by saying that quotes that are meant to inspire are rarely meant literally, but find me a pin that says “Lena, stop twirling your hair and go take a shower” and I’ll promptly eat my words.
Alexia reveals her personal desire to travel, and inspiration she feels when seeing such posts. To my horror, her voice then transitions into a patronizing compilation of “did you knows” geared toward convincing her readers – and Elite Daily has many of them (me included) – why traveling impulsively is a bad idea.
The list is extensive: thievery, sexual assault, expense, hygiene…she rattles them off neurotically in a way that reminds me alarmingly of Ben Stiller in Along Came Polly. (RISK!)
Don’t get me wrong, it is completely valid to portray the real dangers of traveling to anyone who may want to go, but her approach reads more like a helicopter parent threateningly counting cons on her fingers.
As an avid traveler, and budget traveler at that, Alexia’s article bothered me deeply. It went against everything I try to do each Sunday evening, giggling at my own puns and recalling the best moments of my life abroad to share with you, our readers.
I feel betrayed somehow, and curious as to where her visceral frustration is coming from. She writes,
What about the cost of Visas for that out-of-country trip? Can you “drop” these amounts, “drop” days from your job, “drop” your responsibilities — including calling your parents, paying rent and utilities and bills, and showering a normal amount — and just go?
My answer, Alexia: yes. Everyone’s situation is unique; everyone has different obstacles, different responsibilities that keep them from traveling regularly. But everyone also finds unicorn moments in life when traveling is suddenly possible – this is when it’s time to “drop everything and go.” Everyone also has moments in life when they can no longer cope, go to work everyday, or have one more conversation with their mom about the benefits of taking probiotics. This is also when it’s time to “drop everything and go.”
It doesn’t mean you drop your toddler and bolt, it doesn’t mean you pack your Polaroid camera and a vintage silk kimono and leave behind your bills and pills. That’s not the point of those Tumblr posts and it’s not the point of Jetset Times. The point is that everyone should feel empowered and encouraged to travel, because near or far, it is good for you.
Alexia’s compilation list of bad outcomes and horrors, each one followed with a “bet you haven’t thought of this one” factoid, could easily shatter the empowerment that someone young and excited feels to travel. Her article imparts fear, disgust, and self-doubt instead of wise thinking – which is what she seemed to be shooting for.
She then picks a bone with “wanderlust.” Hold me back.
Look, nobody wants to think about any of this when they travel. “Wanderlust” is not associated with practical elements like high costs, crime rates, lodging costs and infectious, foreign mosquitos. The truth is that the worry-free wanderlust that we all strive for on Tumblr is reserved for those who have the time and money to be worry-free.
Seriously, take my earrings.
This is not to say that traveling is only for the wealthy; this is, however, definitely to say that the carefree, go-with-the-flow state of wanderlust catalogued all throughout the Internet is.
First of all, wanderlust is not synonymous with worry-free. I don’t want to get in a virtual fight here about the definition of the word, but I’ve never known it to mean “carefree.” Wanderlust is the strong impulse to travel or see the world. Anyone can feel this impulse, regardless of race, gender, or class, and anyone can act on it responsibly, if they choose to.
Also, do the wealthy have the least worries and most go-with-the-flow attitude? I call bull$h&t. Her claim that having more money means less concerns reminds me of a lovely turn of phrase I’ve seen on a Tumblr photo or two myself.
“Mo Money Mo Problems.”
We could superimpose that on a photo of a white dude in first class white knuckling his Jack Daniels while his stocks drop and call it a day, but I’m not finished yet.
To you, the reader who may now have read Alexia’s literary dump on impulsive travel, I tell you this. Traveling is scary sometimes, and traveling can be dangerous. But just like we drag ourselves out of bed every morning into poisonous emissions and speeding cars, we travel because we can’t let risks and “what ifs” rule our lives.
Be wise and choose your impulses for the right things (which restaurant to stop in) and not the wrong things (how to get home at 3 AM), but don’t let fear stop you from seeing the world. There are too many beautiful, moving, and life altering moments out there for you to continue pinning wanderlust quotes to your “someday” board.
So I suggest that you drop everything and go.