I’m Back and I Learned to Live Authentic

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Hey, I missed you guys!  I thought this would be a good time to return and explain my absence and abundance of guest posts recently.  I’ve had a couple of events that have really facilitated some personal and professional reflection, and getting back into the grind has honestly been a little difficult.  Doing stuff is hard, but the first life event is a good (albeit time consuming) one.

Maggie's Wedding

Photo Credit: Christian Saab

Last month I got married!  That means the months leading up to that I had to plan a wedding.  The wedding was great and I kind of nailed it ;), but the wedding industry is a horrible monster.  I never want to think that much about napkins again, or worse yet, about what’s wrong with me for not caring about napkins when it’s the most important thing to ever happen to anyone and you only get one shot at it.  Those guys really work hard to break your spirit and the happiest day of your life is kind of soul crushing.  So, that took up a lot more of my time and emotional energy than I had budgeted for and unfortunately the blog suffered for it.  Great news though, the wedding was great, my soul has recovered, and I never have to do that again!  And you, dear readers, might get to see a bit more of my husband (that still sounds weird) lurking around here in the future.

Photo Credit: Christian Saab

Shortly after the wedding I headed off on a very long press trip (there is a Bali honeymoon in our very near future though) that left much to be desired.  I’m still trying to sort through my feelings about that experience and what is appropriate to share with the world (though I’ll happily tell you all about it over a beer), but I will say that I’ve never before been treated so disrespectfully as a professional or even as a human and it’s caused me (and I know several others on that trip) to reevaluate this career or at least the kinds of projects I sign on to in the future.  It was not all bad however, as I met several other bloggers who I’m sure I’ll work with again, as soon as we all recover enough to remember why we enjoy doing this.

Terenrific Spa Day

…in recovery mode

While organizers of this press trip were the most egregious, my fellow bloggers and social media gurus has me thinking about my place in this industry as well.  There was so much chatter about numbers, page rank, do-follow links, bots, and the like.  What there wasn’t much talk of, was travel.  This is a job (and nowhere was that more evident than on this trip) and all of the technical nitty gritty is important, but there has to be happy medium.  You have to still enjoy traveling at a bare minimum right?

You can’t really blame bloggers for getting caught up in the business and losing sight of the “why.”  In this industry we are constantly fighting to be taken seriously and to prove our worth to brands and destinations, but no one is in it for the money.  Even the bloggers you think are making money, likely aren’t making much money.  Certainly none of us are making enough money to give up what presumably started as a passion for real experiences in exchange for a life behind a screen.

What’s far worse than the bloggers that have gotten bogged down in the technical nitty gritty, is the number of people I watched out right lie to followers on social media and blog posts.   I watched several people complain along with the rest of us (and rightfully so), and then turn around and post about the wonderful completely amazing once in a lifetime best experience ever they were having #liveauthentic.

I don’t want this to come of as “blogger bashing.”  More than anything, this experience caused me to examine my own approach.  I too am guilty of portraying experience through rose colored glasses or even omitting bad experiences all together for fear of being labeled “negative”, but omission is a bit different than a complete misrepresentation and what does a blogger have to offer if not authenticity?  

This is all I will ever look like on a hike in the snow #nofilter

So where do I fit in here?  I’ll never be glamorous enough (or have the energy) to bring wardrobe changes on hikes for instagram, or the thigh gap and perfect hair to make that worthwhile,  or the patience to Photoshop all of the people out of city streets, or the will power to do a full photo shoot before diving into my dinner. 

Even at my most glamorous I’m kind of a disaster (Photo Credit: Christian Saab)

What I have to offer is a rarely glamorous, sometimes negative, but always authentic (if at times a bit sarcastic) take.  For the time being, I don’t make nearly enough money to pretend I’m having fun for the cameras (though I do have a price, inquire within).  That being said, I’m not hard to please and I do genuinely enjoy most things, but sometimes things suck and people need to know!


33 thoughts on “I’m Back and I Learned to Live Authentic

  1. Congratulations! Your true grit always wows me. Don’t be a stranger.

  2. Well said my dear friend. Well said. PS. You’re pretty.

    • Mags

      Thanks friend! You’re pretty!

  3. Congratulations on your wedding first of all! I completely agree that as bloggers we sometimes become obsessed with having the best analytics and lose sight of the actual travel part.

  4. First, that’s the prettiest dress I’ve ever seen. You SLAY in it. Second, weddings are awful and I hear you. Give yourself time to rest and afterwards! I felt twitchy for months before getting back into the groove.

  5. Love this post. First off, congrats on the wedding! So sorry though to hear about the press trip from hell- I totally feel your pain, there is nothing worse than being stuck on something like that. Because of this, in 2018 I’m hoping to focus more on individually planned trips versus organized group ones- so I can do exactly what I want to do!

  6. Congratulations on your marriage — I agree, the whole wedding industry kind of takes away from the whole reason you got married to begin with. I hear you about the press trip and it’s why I’m doing more and more individual ones and fewer group ones. Keep being yourself and being authentic – it’s why we read your blog!

  7. This was so entertaining and I love your realness! I want to know more about the press trip and where you were! I can see why as bloggers, we are tempted to portray the good and not the bad when it is sponsored, as you feel you are obligated to by the company. But you also owe it to your readers to be honest! Such a tough one. Great job continuing to “do you!”

  8. First of all congratulations on your wedding! And secondly you’re right about whatever you said about bloggers in general.. At times it can get annoying to keep discussing the technical things rather than just enjoy the present moment! Hope you enjoy the coming months & enjoy your Bali honeymoon!

  9. First off, congratulations! I was stalking your FB to see wedding photos before you published this so I knew what this was gonna be about :-p What I didn’t know is that you, like me, hate the wedding industry. Ugh, what a racket. I also didn’t know that you were on a press trip from hell. Luckily, I’ve done very few group press trips and the ones I have done, have been enjoyable. But even on individual trips, not everything is rainbows and unicorns. There’s a way to convey that to our readers without flat-out lying. Anyway, congrats again!

    • Mags

      Thanks! I should say that every other press trip I’ve done has had the opposite problem where it’s so incredible that you wonder whether the average traveler could/would have the same experience and treatment. This was certainly a unique experience.

  10. First off congrats on the wedding! Sometimes this blogging has to get put on hold for amazing life happenings. Bali is on my bucket list, I hope to get there soon! I am interested in this press trip that you are wondering how much to share about. Sounds like an interesting story that would def require the beer lol. You’re dress was beautiful by the way!

    • Mags

      Thanks so much. I’m really excited about Bali and anxiously watching the volcano situation. Hopefully everything will calm down there soon.

  11. Congratulations!! And I absolutely love your wedding dress!! All the best for your future as Mr and Mrs 🙂

    • Mags

      Thanks so much!

  12. Where to begin? Ok, first of all, congratulations on the wedding! Your dress is absolutely stunning. It’s so nice to see some originality in that department! I can’t wait to see how your Bali honeymoon turns out. Onto the blogger stuff … You’re the second blogger I’ve seen unload (for lack of a better word) about this particular press trip. Now, I’m kind of dying to know what happened, but it sounds like a tale for telling over a glass of wine (or beer). It seems odd to me that we haven’t met yet IRL because I already feel like I know you through your blog. From another blogger who will never bring wardrobe changes on a hike, thanks for keeping it real and authentic! Though I do photograph my food — except for when I’m so hungry that I forget and dive right in. 😉

    • Mags

      Thanks so much! We’ll meet IRL one of these days and you wont be able to shut me up about this trip lol. I’m really curious to see the kind of content that will start coming out from everyone this trip too!

      I really try on the food photography, but I usually remember like 3 bites in! I need better food bloggers around to remind me.

  13. First of all congratulations on the wedding, and secondly I think this is the first time I’ve come across one of your posts so welcome back from your hiatus. I actually really appreciate what you’ve wrote in this post. I’m a long-term traveler and I only recently started my blog, while I’ve backpacked the world I had zero interests in blogs because of the over glamorization, it’s actually the reason I started mine, to give an honest account of what traveling is really like. My posts consist of traveling realism’s, the painful and the things you don’t really about. However In just the short few months I’ve been blogging though I can see why bloggers miss certain things out, show the best pictures and talk about those once in a lifetime experiences – We want traffic, readers and subscribers however I think we live in a period where people appreciate honesty and it was quite refreshing to read this post. I look forward to reading more of your work.

  14. I really enjoyed reading your article and actually read it in my head and could hear you speaking. That trip was rather chaotic emotionally…but I’m glad we got to see some pretty cool stuff and I’m glad our posse came together! Even better that our group remained friends throughout the insane ordeal. I’m definitely missing all of you and we will always have polenta!

    Btw, you look fab in your wedding photo!

    • Mags

      Hey thanks! It’s been enough time now that I think I’m glad I did it because our little group is amazing! I miss you all, but wouldn’t get on a bus with you for all the money in the world! That trip was emotionally draining to say the least.

  15. Melissa

    “Doing stuff is hard.” Word. Love that you’re keepin’ It real!

  16. Now I’m totally curious about the press trip and your experience. It is truly a shame when bloggers get obsessed with the numbers and lose the big picture. It sounds like in the midst of it all, you connected with some lovely people though. Congratulations on your wedding and have a fab time in Bali.

    • Mags

      Thanks so much. I did connect with some wonderful people and I think that will be the main take away from this trip.

  17. Congratulations on your marriage. Thanks for sharing your beautiful photos.

    • Mags

      Thanks so much!

  18. Well congratulations on your wedding! And, yes, I agree that the entire wedding industry is focused on guilt tripping people into spending money rather than putting any real focus on making the experience fun and enjoyable. We got married at an all-inclusive in the Dominican Republic because we thought it would mean making fewer wedding planning decisions — nope! We still had to decided on what coverings we wanted for chairs, what plates to use, etc. Still, it looks like you had the best day ever!

    It’s funny to hear you talk about page views, back links, etc. My wife and I have been travelling around Egypt for the last few weeks, but there are days we spend all day working on the nitty-gritty of the blog… cause you gotta have readers, right? One we are loving every second of the travelling life we have created for ourselves and the next day we’re wondering if we’re crazy to have flown half way around the world to be sitting in our hotel room working all day!

    Thanks for telling it like it is!

    • Mags

      Thanks so much. Weddings are exhausting but worth it. A wedding in the Dominican sounds gorgeous, and I too would assume easier. I’m sorry to hear that’s not the case! What a ridiculous industry!

  19. Congratulations on your recent nuptials! You look gorgeous. 🙂 And PREACH! If I see another photo of a floppy felt hat or lace dress high up in the Alps or in a boat I may lose my lunch. Stay true to yourself and keep it real for all our sakes. (And I can’t wait to read your scorching piece about that certain press trip. Inquiring minds want to know all…)

    • Mags

      Thanks so much! There’s a piece coming, I just have to sort through which of my thoughts are constructive and which are petty!

  20. First, congrats on your marriage! Second, I appreciate you bringing the subject up of representing travel in an honest way. Some of the experiences will be great, and others not so great. When on a press trip I think it is important for those that set up the tours and the businesses involved to be fully aware that we will write about all aspects of the experience – in essence, a real experience – because that is why we have the following we do, people trust us. They want to hear if we liked something, or didn’t like something. I was faced with a dilemma about a press trip, and after much deliberation, I decided the best move was to be honest with the tour organizer and tell her my thoughts about the trip and how I planned to write about it. I think in the end, that this honesty will help the destination/hotel/business -whatever it may be- improve.

    • Mags

      I absolutely agree. It undermines our authority as bloggers if we just blindly recommend something because we got it for free. Fortunately in my situation, the destination itself was great, it was just the ‘press trip’ portion that caused the problem for me.

  21. Yup yup yup!

    I’ve been trying to peel away the bad experiences and just share about the places I really liked (and skip the stuff that makes no sense). This trip was hard because it was rarely the destination that wasn’t great (with a few exceptions), so I don’t want to make people think they won’t have a good time somewhere just because I was dealing with the world’s weirdest press trip. I don’t know. This shit is hard. So glad I met you, and your blog is now one of my faves ever.

    • Mags

      “This shit is hard” is a pretty perfect synopsis! I think the trip was worth it though because I met you and now we know we could never be tricked into joining a cult.

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