Here are my travelgramming confessions.
I am hopelessly addicted to travel. And I love photography. As I travel the world, I enthusiastically post to Instagram images of my adventures. My account has slowly become devoted to travel, and now when I look at it, I wonder what story it tells to the followers who do not really know me, Erin Elizabeth. To them, I am Pina, a travelgrammer. They see my glorified life, in which I endlessly travel and never work. In which I spend my days reading in hammocks, lounging on beaches, hanging out with elephants, hiking, and eating delicious food. They see flawless, uninhibited travel. They do not see the hours I work to earn the money, the sickness, the stress, the frustrations, the culture shock.
I’d spent the last two days on a packed, sweaty bus. Hungry, motion sick, and miserable. The glorious life of a travelgrammer!
Hours earlier I was assaulted in an alleyway by a young Moroccan boy. He came up from behind and pushed me up against a wall as I screamed, hitting him. I escaped, but was terrified for weeks.
That day, I cried in front of an entire restaurant because I could not communicate to the staff the severity of my food allergies.
We’d been sleeping in a jungle cabin that was infested with rats. Every night we awoke to find rats that had chewed through our mosquito nets, and were in our beds, chewing on our things.
I spent the previous night in a hospital, after going into anaphylactic shock. I was sure I was dying. And now I had a 500$ hospital bill to pay.
I lost my wallet that day. And my debit card. And my credit cards. …By sheer stupidity. Cue three weeks of anxiety as I waited for my new cards to arrive.
My partner had been dangerously ill with food poisoning for more than three days, and I was sure we would soon be heading to the hospital. You wouldn’t know that by looking at my travelgrammer account.
Not all travelgrammers do luxury travel. Committed to budget travel, my partner and I found ourselves sleeping together on a single mattress, with no pillows, on the floor of a packed Tokyo micro-apartment. We had to crawl over the bodies of other sleeping people to get to the toilet. I admit the first morning we woke up there, I cried in frustration. There is nothing like 3 months in Asia to teach you what a privilege “personal space” is.
Three hostels in a row we had been ravaged by bedbugs, and I was giving into the bedbug paranoia as I examined my body every morning in the mirror. Are they in my bag? Are they in my clothes!?
That morning I forgot my passport in the pillow of my bed in a homestay in Trinidad, Cuba. Two hours later I was in a debilitating panic, in the front seat of a car share, trying to explain to the driver in broken Spanish that we needed to go all the way back.