Traveling Means Learning to Embrace the Ugly

All too often traveling is glamorized. Travel writers still romanticize destinations with idyllic descriptions and flowering imagery. Cities are exalted for their pristineness, their beauty, their grandeur, or the ugly, offbeat ones become eclectic, edgy and upcoming. Is there a guidebook that won’t tiptoe around their flaws? After all, we’ve all got a little ugliness in us—even the “pretty” ones—and that’s what makes us human.

The world has been seen already. There’s no truly undiscovered travel destination. It’s easy to fit a place into its prefabricated box—Paris is beautiful and romantic. Istanbul is where East meets West. Spain is the land of siestas, sangria and bullfights. Landmarks, cliches, pseudo-cultural traditions, the guidebook restaurants and bars—some quality, and some just touristy fluff—dot the modern traveler’s itinerary and, worse, define the destinations they belong to.It’s exhausting. Where are the people? The embarrassing anecdotes? The sarcasm, irony and wit? The real thoughts and emotions? Where’s the personal discovery?

I’m not here to give you the authentic travel experience; I’m here to give you my travel experience. I’m sarcastic, I’m snarky and I’m candid. I’m not here to offend or insult cultures but I’m here to tell you my stories—the haphazard and the delightful—for entertainment or for wisdom. Maybe both.  I certainly don’t know it all, and I welcome advice, banter and a good story just the same way I dish it out. I have only been to a small handful of countries, and maybe a quarter of the states in the US. I am changing that. I’ve written travel blog posts for my awesome program provider, ISA, while in Spain (see them here, here, here and here), and even though they’re more PG than I’d like, I realized that reflecting and blogging about my travels is something ritualistic and invaluable to me.

I’m developing my voice as a writer and seeing the world, too, while leveraging my critical perspective to highlight the human elements of travel—both positive and negative. If you see the value in honesty, this blog is for you. If you asked me “Does this outfit make me look fat?” and I said yes, and you were still my friend, then this blog is for you. If you like travel, late-night adventures, wine, dancing, sassy friends, cheap food, and poking fun at it all while learning to be a (somewhat) better person, then you might consider subscribing. I want you to come with me. Come judge with me, that is, and embrace the ugly. Let’s go.

Dan

The Snarky Sightseer

Advertisements