By the time you’re reading this, I’ll be flying over the Indian Ocean to the exotic Seychelles islands. I haven’t stopped dreaming about the pristine beaches and turquoise waters since my trip to Mauritius last year (Read: What a Fisherman Taught Me About Paradise). I didn’t think the seagulls would call me back so soon. In fact, I didn’t think I’d be travelling internationally for a while. And there’s only one reason. I’m learning to walk away.
At TBEX Toronto earlier this year, I sat nodding vigorously as Amy of Everything Everywhere (@EverywhereAmy) said, if you don’t value your blog, no one else will. I’ve taken her words to heart, etched them in my mind, and weighed them against the offers that came my way during the past four months.
An invite to Europe wanted me to “do” three entire countries in 5 days. An invite to a major country in the Pacific wanted me to “see everything” from 9 am to 9 pm on each day of the trip, then write more stories than there were days. You can argue that’s how FAM trips for journalists have always been run and that’s also how many Indians like to travel, but can you really say you’ve experienced a country if you haven’t mingled with the locals, sampled a local bar, strolled around its back lanes, tried the public transport, and found adventure by losing your way?
I was frustrated. But for the first time, I felt confident walking away from partnerships that neither offered me the freedom to travel on my own terms, nor compensated me for my time and efforts. The temptation to accept an international trip on poor terms is far too great, and I’ve battled it with all my might. I know there are many bloggers and freelance writers out there who are still working on such terms, and I want to reach out to them and tell them what Amy told me. You need to learn to walk away.
I’m breaking my international travel hiatus with Seychelles this week, and Germany in early December. It’s last call for my flight and I’m thinking, two roads diverged in a wood, and I, I took the one less travelled by, and that has made all the difference.