2015 turned out to be nothing I have planned. To be honest, even the job opportunity in Mexico was a spontaneous decision. I did not book my flight until 2 days before my departure. Not even 3 weeks in Mexico I already booked several flights to different destinations. One of those destinations was Peru and Bolivia. My friend and I planned a round trip. But before we booked this one we had a lot of questions. We wanted to invest wisely; we wanted to invest in the best vacation possible. So we asked colleagues and people we knew who already traveled to Peru and Bolivia about their experiences. All we heard was positive things. Many swore that their trip to South America, including Peru and Bolivia, was the best of their lives. Some even went so far to tell us that Bolivia is the most beautiful country in South America, in fact the most beautiful country they ever traveled to. While a statement like this is heavily based on subjective perception, it should be possible to make differentiated statements, too. But we did not hear anything of that. Since my friend and I were pretty sure that we would not return to this part of the world very soon and we were really eager to see Machu Picchu, one of the Modern Seven World Wonders, we decided to go ahead and book our itinerary for this trip.
Well, I am not going to go into details about the round trip. The route we took is very common (Lima-Cusco-Puno-Copacabana-La Paz-Salar de Uyuni-border to Chile and back), so there is plenty to read up on it on other blogs or forums. But after some time, during that trip, one question always popped up in my head: Why do people lie about traveling? Machu Picchu is beautiful. No doubt about that. And if you are into historical sites and cultural heritage you really should go there if you get the chance. Machu Picchu was our priority, so we took that trip at the beginning of our itinerary. But after that highlight we were everything else than amused or impressed. The moment where I realized this trip was nothing for me was in Salar de Uyuni. It is probably the most overrated place I have been to. There we were, driving for hours through the Andes, on this high plateau, seeing nothing but white salt desert. White, white, white, everywhere white, stopping every five minutes to take hundreds of the same pictures in different poses, over and over again. Mind you, this was only the first day of the three-day-package we booked. A few hours into it, I asked my friend what else is on the schedule for today. She replied: “We are spending the entire day here.” Oh. My. God.
I love nature and all. I am a country girl and I am not shy or embarrassed to admit that. But why spend an entire day surrounded by white nothingness? Did I miss something? After some time even my friend said she must be missing the point, because there was nothing interesting to her about Salar de Uyuni after spending hours there. This experience continued as we drove for another 2 days through the Andes, visited hot springs and even when we were back in La Paz. Everybody we asked ensured us that we would have an amazing experience. So where was ours? Only plausible explanation: They lied to us.
The more I thought about this the more I realized nobody ever complained or said anything negative about their vacations and stays abroad. Everything was always so ‘amazing’, ‘beautiful’, the ‘best place’ they ever went to and so on. Nobody ever misses to check-in on Facebook, update their statuses and post a plethora of holiday pictures. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing. I do it myself. But for god’s sake, people, just be honest! There is absolutely no shame in admitting it if one vacation spot was not over the top. There is no shame in not liking a place you traveled to or, like in my case, even lived in. Who ever set up this rule that every place you travel to must blow your mind and be the best experience of your life? That’s nonsense. So here are two of my theories why people lie about traveling:
#1 They are ashamed to admit that their vacation was crap (sorry, not sorry for the expression). People like to show off and Facebook, Instagram and co. made things only worse. How often does anybody on your friend list or any of your followers post negative stuff regarding their personal lives? Especially when they’re abroad? That’s right, I thought so, too. For some reason, everything you publish on the Internet must be amazing, better and be a display of what posh and happy life they are living. Criticism is unwanted. Everything has to be picture perfect. So admitting that your vacation did not turn out to be the way you expected it doesn’t go well with your image on Social Media.
#2 Many people we asked about Peru and Bolivia said that it was also the first trip they ever took in their lives. Also, those people just finished school, so they were very young and inexperienced. I noticed that very often the first destination you travel to by yourself seems to be super amazing and over the top. It’s like their judgment is impaired and they have this almost very romantic view of their first trip abroad. Everything is super cool, hanging out with other backpackers is so fun and they know everything about a country just because they traveled around in it for 2 weeks or so. To my friend and me this seems very naïve. Both of us are in our mid-twenties and traveled to around 30 countries each and lived and worked in several countries for a longer period. By now we know that we won’t like every country we travel to and some might even be so awful, that we don’t want to return to that place, ever.
I count theory #2 as a lie because being impaired due to the fact that you are traveling for the first time is kind of not being 100% honest, even if it is not really your fault. Of course there is also the possibility that the others genuinely liked it in Peru and Bolivia. My friend and I, we just weren’t about that struggle life. That was my first backpack tour and it will be the last, for sure. Nobody can take away that experience, I think this benefit of the whole hassle goes almost without saying. I just wish more people would be honest. If I had known how it really was in Peru and Bolivia I would have saved a lot of money and stress. I probably would have carried on with my original plan and traveled the Canadian and American West Coast. But then again, everybody swears how amazing it is there, the best place in the world and so on. I guess you will never know for sure until you experience it yourself.
Make your experiences. Be honest. Save people from the struggle life. Sounds like a good New Year’s resolution to me.