In 2017, I set foot in fifteen new countries. I have the passport stamps and highly curated photos to prove it, too. Unfortunately, I can’t say that I also have significant experiences to accompany every destination or image. This is because I am guilty of being a travel narcissist; a term coined by Georg Papp in his article highlighting the rise of the look-at-me traveler.
You don’t believe me? Let me explain…
This December I FINALLY got the chance to visit the beautiful Caribbean island of Jamaica. Over the course of 6 days, I planned an itinerary which spanned almost every major parish in the country. My schedule was already ambitious but torrential downpour for two of the six days further complicated things. Since time was short, I visited two major attractions in one afternoon. At Frenchman’s Cove, the majority of my time was spent taking over 200 photos (no exaggeration). When I was satisfied, I left.
Later on, I hopped on a raft at the Blue Lagoon, and honestly my primary objective was to get the perfect shot. After a 30 minute photo shoot, my guide paddled me back to shore. (Side note: you can bargain for a fair price of the river raft on the Blue Lagoon. Around 30 - 35 Jamaican dollars for one person is reasonable. According to a local, I was ripped off for paying 60.)
To be fair, it is my goal to create enough content for this blog and future guides. But justifying my rabid traveling habits with this excuse would be disingenuous at best. More than documenting my experiences, I am semi-addicted to the likes, comments, and re-posts on larger accounts that my social media feed generates. Therefore I am often willing to sacrifice enjoying the present moment to capture it.
And this is one of the chief symptoms of travel narcissism.
In 2018, however I am hoping going to find balance in my travels. And here is how:
I started sharing my journey as a way to find hidden beauty in this messy and flawed world. I will remember my purpose for travel through self-reflection while on vacation.
Supposedly it is/was Jay-Z’s practice to record songs in one take. I’m not going to be that extreme, but I will set boundaries and time limits on my photography.
Gratitude often jolts me back into the present moment. I will take the time to acknowledge at least one thing I am thankful for about a location while I am at the site.
Lastly, it’s difficult to enjoy the moment when I’m rushing. I will prioritize quality over quantity by planning my itinerary to include more time at each location; even if it means seeing less.
Hopefully, this changes the nature of my travels. I’ll keep you updated.
Meet Abena -- a girl desperate to find beauty in the world wherever life takes her. This is her journal of discoveries organized by location and featuring tripod iphonography.