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Have Travel Influencers Let Us Down During The Pandemic?

tulum mexico

There have been two big groups of travel creators during the Covid-19 pandemic: those who talk about how they can’t travel and those who have kept on traveling. The problem are the content creators who sit right in the middle of what’s said and what they’ve done. Mask-less YouTubers, Instagram models, and bloggers have carved out a niche of continuing to move while ignoring the main travel story of the past 12 months.

In case you need to be reminded: coronavirus.

I Can’t Travel…

Plenty of travel creators have been in Mexico, Portugal, Albania, or Turkey (countries that were generally open during the pandemic) lamenting online that they can’t travel. As far as I know, if you’re visiting a country you don’t live in for the purpose of I feel like it, that’s traveling. The fact that you might not be able to eat indoors at a restaurant or go out on weekends doesn’t mean you’re not currently traveling.

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Photos on Instagram tell another story of cafe life, aerial yoga classes, and lots of group selfies in some place that also happens to have a high number of Covid related hospitalizations and deaths. It should all be called out for what it is: disregard for the people and places who’ve taken the pandemic seriously.

A Shame

Very few creators want to talk about travel shaming and pointing fingers so let’s not call out any specific people. The travel industry and online community is especially vanilla, avoiding any strong opinions so as to appeal to the masses (and the potential money they might bring).

And the pandemic has become a political issue.

Consequently travel influencers are generally (or at least publicly) liberal leaning. On the topic of the pandemic though, for many, their movement to places where they can get away from the rules tells another story. Not that they’re conservative but that Covid is getting in the way, so let’s go around it.

Unfortunately science doesn’t work that way.

Not That Big A Deal

Away from the public however a lot of travel creators will tell you that coronavirus isn’t that big of a deal. Many will also not tell you they’ve had coronavirus and picked it up most likely at a large social gathering. Just check their Instagram. How many other people, including locals, they’ve infected? You won’t see that on TikTok.

None of this is to say any of us are perfect or that this is every travel blogger-vlogger-creator out there. Only that not many are talking about the disconnect between the posts and the reality. To me, that’s the real travel story of the past 12 months. Being upfront about it is a bit less glamorous but a lot more useful to the people following. So live as you want, just tell it like it is.

Trust me, it’ll be authentic.

Converting To Islam And Moving To Istanbul: Interview With Blogger Ellie Quinn

You may recall the foXnoMad Podcast episode from this past June with Ellie Quinn about what it’s like to travel as a woman in Pakistan. Since we last spoke Ellie left Indonesia back to England and a short time later announced her conversion to Islam on Instagram. I caught up with Ellie, who’s currently living in Istanbul, to talk about what lead her to “revert” to Islam and what the means on a recent foXnoMad Podcast episode.

You can watch a clip from the foXnoMad Podcast above and listen to the full episode below.

The Ethics Of Travel Blogging: Where Do Creators Draw The Line?

jessie festa foxnomad podcast

How do you as a reader know that the content a travel blogger is making is entirely independent, sponsored, or heavily influenced by free trips or financial incentives? The online space is rapidly evolving and for a long time was an unregulated wild west, leaving many creators to come up with their own guidelines… or not.

I recently asked can you trust foXnoMad, to answer how I go about things, though there’s no single approach for all travel bloggers. It’s one of the reasons Jessie Festa recently joined me on an episode of the foXnoMad Podcast to explain her approach and outline what some of the potential conflicts of interest can be for new creators.

In addition to her site Jessie On A Journey, Jessie runs Travel Blog Prosperity which guides bloggers on how to make their sites profitable and manage what happens when do that. There’s a lot to learn for creators but also consumers of travel content online, including a few lines we won’t cross.

How To Travel To Every Country In The World

foxnomad podcast

It’s been a long standing goal of mine – and this blog – to travel to every country in the world. Although I still have a ways to go in my journey, Stefan Krasowski recently accomplished his objective in 2019, finishing with the last two countries on his list: Yemen and Syria.

On Episode 26 of the foXnoMad Podcast, Stefan and I discussed why he decided to visit every country in the world, some of the frequent flyer strategies he used to cut costs, and how he got into Syria overland. Some other highlights:

  • Common frequent flyer mile mistakes many travelers make potentially costing you free upgrades and flights. (Even if you don’t fly so… frequently!)
  • What does it feel like being foreign in China, where Stefan lived for 8 years.
  • Being very likely the first person granted a tourist visa for Syria in 2019.
  • How U.S. border officials reacted upon his return from Yemen and Syria.

Stefan also talks about his guide in Syria, a Palestinian refugee, and her struggles as a stateless person. It’s a touching story that’s a reminder of the power travel can have in connecting us all.

Thank you Stefan for being a guest on the podcast. You can join other travelers looking to visit every country on his Facebook group Every Passport Stamp, and find him on YouTube.

When Will Travel Return To Normal After Covid?

foxnomad podcast nora dunn

With tourism projected to drop by up to 80% in 2020 due to coronavirus, many people in the industry are wondering if and how things might bounce back. The disruptions to travel have also made it difficult for those living abroad, working location independent, or digital nomads in general plan for the future.

To discuss where travel might go and when you might get to go… you know, to all those fun places you’re dreaming of, I spoke with Nora Dunn on a recent episode of the foXnoMad Podcast. Nora traveled full-time for over a decade and her insights were both interesting and optimistic – and who couldn’t use a little more optimism these days? It’s a conversation you’ll enjoy – listen above and subscribe to the foXnoMad Podcast here.

The Differences Between Traveling In India And Pakistan

It’s hard not to think about one when thinking about the other and having traveled to both India and Pakistan earlier this year, drawing comparisons was impossible. Both countries are very similar but clearly distinct in ways that may surprise you, all in the video above.

What was unsurprising though is the controversy that video created but the controversial aspects weren’t expected. You can listen to the behind the scenes of creating my India vs. Pakistan video in a recent episode of the foXnoMad Podcast below.

Controversies and comments have been across a wide spectrum of thoughtful, aggressive, and generally ridiculous. In the video below I address some of the best and worst of the messages I received.

There are some general observations I made though in the differences between traveling in India versus Pakistan and vice versa.

  • Crowds – Until you’ve been to India, it’s hard to comprehend what a population well over a billion means. In contrast, Pakistan feels much less crowded which makes sense, it’s population (220 million) is 16% that of India.
  • Tourists – India sees many more tourists per year, fostering a well-developed tourism industry. Pakistan on the other hand is still up and coming – so there are fewer tour and other organized options.
  • Food – Similar in spices with just as much regional variation across both but with meat, especially red meat, making up a big part of Pakistani cuisine. India has a much wider variety of vegetarian options.
  • Accommodation – There’s more stratification in Pakistan, particularly for mid-tier budgets. India tends to have hotels that go much wider – ultra-budget and very high-end without as many middle-tier options.

None of this is to say one country is better than the other, a generalization so general it has no meaning. Travel styles and interests play a big part into whether India or Pakistan might appeal more to you. In both Pakistan and India however, you’ll find friendly people, amazing food, beautiful nature, and plenty of adventure to be had.

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About Anil Polat

foxnomad aboutHi, I'm Anil. foXnoMad is where I combine travel and tech to help you travel smarter. I'm on a journey to every country in the world and you're invited to join the adventure! Read More

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