On Instagram & Materialism

When I first started this blog I lived in a shared, poorly insulated dorm room in Russia while simultaneously working and studying full-time.

I was halfway through my degree in political science and my idea of a good drink was a Jager bomb. Which, truth be told, I would drink my fair share of on any given night of the week.

That, my home-bleached hair and outrageously colourful outfits made me feel super cool, rock’n’roll and glamorously misunderstood. Never mind that I constantly felt anxious, under pressure and exhausted.

For years I told myself that was all part of the university experience and that I should suck it up, get perfect scores on all my tests and just drink a Red Bull whenever I felt myself falling asleep with my eyes open.

girl vs globe blonde
Yup, I used to be platinum blonde once upon a time…

Fast forward two incredibly long years and at first glance it may seem like I have almost nothing in common with that person – barring our identical DNA and birth certificates that is.

Instead of slurping up pot noodles I now cook things like kale and quinoa. The mere thought of doing five shots of tequila in a row makes me feel faint. My idea of a good drink now is a Sazerac, sipped slowly after dinner.

These differences became very apparent to me a few months ago, when I treated myself to a new pair of shoes after my birthday. A picked a somewhat impractical pair of suede over-the-knee boots from Kurt Geiger. The price tag? £300 or $425.

Depending on who you are and how much you earn, that might either seem reasonable or outrageously expensive.

how-to-be-warm-and-stylish-this-winter

The problem is, I can’t quite figure out who I am anymore. I’ve been very open with you about how much I make and although I’m not exactly rolling in dough my lifestyle is pretty swish.

As a blogger I get to do a lot of things that would normally be outside the bounds of my budget, from staying in fancy hotels to getting new dresses in the mail every week.

And the truth is, it’s messing with my head and making me question who I am and what I stand for.

That issue becomes more pressing whenever I log into Instagram. I follow hundreds of bloggers on the platform and check it about fifty times a day – a constant barrage of smoothie bowls, infinity pools, luxury suites and Louboutins.

It makes blogging look like the best paid job on the planet. Which – shocking revelation – it isn’t. It’s definitely not impossible to make a decent income, but most people never get to the point when a closet full of Louboutins and monthly trips to the Bahamas are within reach.

Most bloggers afford to do these things because they’re rarely the ones actually footing the bill. Including myself.

Sometimes I worry that my financially incongruous lifestyle is a little… well, fake. Insincere. I want Girl vs Globe to be all about inducing happiness, not misguided envy.

I don’t live in a penthouse in the centre of New York. I live in a studio in Manchester (although I’ll be moving soon and can’t wait to tell you all about it!) with my boyfriend and buying a new pair of £300 boots still feels slightly foreign to me.

Having said that, I’ve kept my integrity. I’m definitely not a backpacker and do stay at gorgeous boutique hotels even if I’m paying for them myself. I’m all about affordable luxury, both in travel and lifestyle.

neuhengstett-rose-garden
Sipping champagne all day, every day? Not quite.

That brings me back to my opening paragraph. “When I first started this blog I lived in a shared, poorly insulated dorm room in Russia while simultaneously working and studying full-time.”

I’m definitely not the student I was when I launched Girl vs Globe and my expectations have shifted. I used to think I’d graduate, move to Thailand and travel around Asia on a shoestring.

But the more I grow and progress, the more I’m realising that I’m not someone who wants to be constantly on the road. I’ve never been much of a prima donna and I could definitely handle going back to my student lifestyle… but I’d also rather not.

Drifting from place to place stresses me out. I like having a place to call my own, I like owning a dozen decorative cushions and slightly impractical suede over-the-knee boots.

Although most travel bloggers would probably chastise me for buying a pair of shoes that costs more than a return flight to Iceland, I don’t want to feel guilty about my purchase. Sometimes I want new shoes, not a trip abroad. And that’s fine.

It feels really good to say that, because for a long time that very thought made me feel guilty. I feared that mindset made me a sellout, a little consumerist diva with unreasonably high standards.

peyto lake alberta
Hello, world. This is me!

But I – and anyone who’s met me – know that’s not actually true. I love travel and crave authentic experiences. Although I enjoy the finer things in life (who doesn’t?) I’m equally happy seeing how the locals live and letting go off any semblance of luxury.

I’m just a girl trying to find her place in the world and figure out what makes her happy. I work hard and although I never want to promote mindless materialism on here – or in myself! – I don’t have to restrict myself to a life with no possessions of permanent address.

A while ago I started using a new tagline for this blog. “Girl vs Globe helps you become the leading lady in the story of your life, and find magic and happiness in the everyday.”

And that’s exactly what I’m going to do, whether I’m talking about a life-changing trip to a deserted island, a delicious smoothie bowl recipe or my brand new suede boots.

What do you think? Do you dream of being free of all material ties or do you think a nomadic lifestyle is not for you either? 

  • I can relate 100% with this post – and LOVE YOU for putting it all down on paper! I consider myself a travel blogger, all though nowhere near a professional level, but would never call myself a backpacker, or nomadic. I love affordable luxury, and would rather take 3 shorter, booked trips than spend a month traveling. I definitely see where you are coming from 🙂

    Love this honesty, Sabina!

    — LisaLDN.com

    • I’m so glad this resonated with you!!! 🙂 There’s obviously nothing wrong with being a backpacker, but it isn’t really my style… and that’s fine. Thanks so much for reading and commenting, always xxx

  • BeyondBlighty

    I think we need to meet again for drinks and a D&M! I miss you! xxx

  • Sophie

    ” I want Girl vs Globe to be all about inducing happiness, not misguided envy.” – brilliant and the ethos every blog should champion <3

    http://saintsonaplane.com

    • So glad you agree Sophie! I think that ethos really shines through your blog & writing as well 🙂 xxx

      • Sophie

        Aw thank you, Sabina! <3

  • Rebecca Haywood

    I 100% agree!

    As much as I like doing the backpacker hostel thing when I travel (I’m usually alone so it’s essential for meeting people), I absolutely LOVE nice hotels and treating myself to expensive food or a bit of luxury if my budget allows. Also, when I’m home I always ditch the crusty clothes and head straight to Topshop!

    It’s nice to experience both lifestyles so why not 🙂

    • I totally agree Rebecca! Striking a balance is good and important 🙂 And I’m not saying I always stay at 4/5* hotels of course – I can’t afford that haha. But when my budget allows I like to treat myself 🙂

  • Priya

    I’m a newbie family travel blogger and believes in affordable luxury.. we take 2 to 3 yearly trips and take time to plan it out ourselves and started the blog as a way to share it with the travel community, where I learn so much as well. Loved it when you said – “I want Girl vs Globe to be all about inducing happiness, not misguided envy”. I wonder about it all time when we share our packing lists to posed shots in front of popular locations – it should be meant to share and motivate and not being boastful about your trip.

    • I’m so glad this resonated with you Priya! I know how discouraging it can be sometimes, seeing other bloggers’ amazing trips… Social media is all about the highlights and we don’t discuss the hardships often enough 🙂

  • Sapphire Beaumont

    I loved this post!

    Although I am quite new to the world of travel blogging I have been reading travel blogs and following their instagrams for many years now and can definitely agree with what you’re saying!

    For some bloggers I feel like it has become less about the destination and more about them personally (in a not so good way!) or simply about the agencies that are sponsoring their trips.

    I think it comes down to letting your blog grow with you, even if that means changing your niche (like your post about being a lifestyle/travel blogger), maintaining a good balance and keeping it real! All of which you do!! 🙂 so don’t stop doing that!!

    When I was in Croatia I paid $350 for a pair of boots – one of the most expensive pairs of shoes I have ever bought – and I have no regrets. I also like buying stuff for my home, but its about being selective and only having the things you love or find useful in your life. I’m not really into the whole ‘stop being materialistic – sell your stuff and have no address’ mindset either. But in saying that, if that’s what makes someone happy then that’s fine too.

    I’m trying to figure out what direction to take my blog in – I can’t say how hard it is trying to find my voice!! I’m heading to the South Island of NZ next month and am hoping to build lots of content from my trip, so hopefully writing about the places in my homeland will help me find my niche and my voice. I’m a girly girl but a little bogan too – I’m quite happy to sleep in the car but definitely wouldn’t say no to a luxury boutique hotel either haha

  • Y’know, you’re probably the most ‘real’ blogger out there Sabine. I totally agree. And this is something I’ve been trying to deal with on my blog too. As much as I absolutely love to travel, I’d be miserable travelling full time. I love having a home, with my things. I love cooking my own food, and having left overs for days. I love going to a movie every now-and-then, and binge-watching tv series. With all that, I could also talk about travel non-stop.

    I really don’t think travel bloggers need to be on the road all the time. I don’t look for that in a travel blog. I look for beautiful well-written stories, that give me a real sense of the writers time in a new city. I can’t stand content that’s been pushed out to make a deadline before the next flight.

    Girl, you could do anything and I’d read it. I really love your blogging/writing style.

    Chalsie x

    Wayfare

  • Jodie @ à la perchoine

    I love this post! So true and I’m feeling the same finding my place in this world. I started out backpacking on a budget but now I’m more about enjoying the luxuries in life, like new shoes!
    Can’t wait to hear more!

    À la perchoine, Jodie
    http://www.alaperchoine.com

    • Yay, so nice to hear we’re on the same page Jodie!!! 🙂 It’s all about finding balance & I think that’s definitely something that happens in the long run… no need to rush it… 🙂 xxx

  • Great post… I do dream of having that lifestyle at times, but then, even though I know it’s possible if I really truly want it, my reality kicks in and I just can’t seem to find the motivation and work ethic I know that I would need to make it truly happen. So I just keep plodding along, sharing my stories and advice hoping that something resonates with someone….

  • Great post – I couldn’t be a permanent nomad for a lot of reasons but I’m happy with that. For me it’s travel and home that I love. (And boots)

    • Word Cathy! You don’t need to be a permanent nomad to reap the benefits of travel 🙂 xx

  • This is a lovely post! It’s part of the reason I called my blog Flash and Frugal as it’s unrealistic to keep aspiring to the highly expensive luxury all the time – sometimes the affordable and the frugal can be just as aspirational. Your honesty is a breath of fresh air too. 🙂
    http://www.flashandfrugal.com

    • Thanks so much Ellie!! I totally agree – there needs to be a balance. It’s all about harmony for me. And I think it’s lovely that you combine the two on your blog 🙂 xxx

  • Sabina, this is an awesome post! You really don’t owe an explanation to anyone! Buy those $425 suede boots if that’s what you want. I admire you for sharing your real thoughts and it made me like girl vs globe even more.

    I just got back from a backpacking trip and while I did stay in 3 hostels, I spent most of my time in beautiful boutique hotels because that’s more my style. And I also learned I would never want to be on the road most of the time and that’s okay even if I am a travel blogger.

    Again, love this post! Have a good weekend 🙂

  • Thanks so much for sharing so honestly. I think just by opening yourself up and expressing how you feel you are still encouraging everyone to be a leading lady of their own lives! I just moved back to NY after living in Spain for two years, and never has the consumer culture hit me so heavily as when I stepped away from it and came back. I’m slowly starting to want to buy new clothes and nicer shoes, though I am notorious for saving my pennies for travel. But I think it’s just part of growing into who you are, and that means changing desires and priorities. We are not married to one lifestyle or another. Like you said, it’s OK to want a new pair of suede boots over a return trip to Iceland. It’s your money and you deserve to spend it how you want! Enjoy those boots!

  • Alyssa Chassman

    I think you and I are the same person! this is fantastically honest and mirrors a lot of the sentiments I feel about blogging and the Internet and authenticity and whatnot. Let me know if you’re in London ever. Would love to hear from ya! – Alyssa, @thewanderlistblog

    • Yayyyyy, high five internet sister!! 🙂 I miss London so much, will definitely make a proper announcement and hopefully plan a GvG meet up if I’m heading there 🙂 xxx

      • Alyssa Chassman

        Let me know when you do!! 🙂 xx

  • What a great post. It is so wonderful how honest you are with yourself.

    • Thanks so much Holly! Really glad you enjoyed the post 🙂 xx

  • Gabriela Flores

    I loved it! I found it so interesting and it is so true. You go girl! 🙂

    TheGabrielaFlores.com

  • Maribel E

    I loved this post! So real and relatable, it just shows you´re a great and cool girl!! <3

  • Sabrina Barbante

    Sabina, you always have a great storytelling attitude! You should definitely write a novel! My 10 years old blog tells me so much about how I have changed and two of the main changes are:
    – once my blog was not my job (now greedy Sabri is making money from it, mhuahahha )
    – once I only made ‘gipsy’ travels, that is amazing but growing up is such a good excuse to stop doind difficult things and cuddle myself a bit, don’t you think so? I wrote something abt it and hope you’ll enjoy http://bit.ly/1TGY6T1
    you rock

  • Great post! It can be really hard — do you spend your money on experiences or stuff — sometimes one wins out over the other, and neither is wrong. If it’s what you wanted at the moment and it makes you happy, there’s really no way it can be wrong.

  • Katya

    I enjoyed reading this post – it is sincere and real. And I can totally relate. I was dreaming of traveling the world, and I still do, only I’ve decided I will do it in the coarse of my life span, not the next couple of years:) And this decision made me happier, calmed down my inner anxiety that I want to be everywhere today. Constant travel is tiresome for me and throws me out of balance. Everyone is different though and should find their own balance. I’m glad you found yours:)

  • I enjoyed this post. I have to admit, I’m kind of sick of seeing the word ‘nomad’ being used for every other travel blog anyway. Nothing wrong with having a place to call home and spending on cushions or shoes or whatever!

  • I can definitely relate to the things you are saying! I am always happy to return home to my boyfriend and my doggie, and I will never be someone who just sells everything to travel the world full time. And sometimes.. that pair of shoes is just what you need;-)

    thetouristoflife.com

  • I’m just like you! I love to go on a few amazing trips every year but sometimes I would rather spend my savings on a gorgeous Mulberry bag! I like having a full time job because even though it prevents me from travelling all the time, it means I can afford nice hotels, restaurants, and a sometimes a few fancy fashion items 🙂 It’s also so nice to have a place to call home, with embroidered cushions and everything!

    Anne-Sophie – http://www.citycookie.co.uk

  • Tarni

    Such gorgeous images. Makes me want to travel again so badly!!

    http://www.basicallylife.com

  • natasha jerjomina

    I have never been about high-end luxury things, it’s not who I am as a person, In fact, I deeply admire the extreme livings of folk tribes, they just live naturally off the lands, I almost envy their lives because their stress goes as far as food and clean. but living in this vast modern world, food and hygiene is the least of our stress, it goes beyond, how I look? how much money Io i make? where should my moral compass be? what’s trending? how do I make friends? how can I afford a house like that girl on Instagram? and that list is endless, and definitely not normal. Our generations minds are over complicating themselves. last year all this Instafame and these glam youtube actually started to affect my behavior and the why I looked at myself. I started considering lip injections (because everyone was doing it) and thinking i needed to have a designer bag (because everyone has one) even though I’m considered middle class(though in this day of age, that just means comfortable, not rich) I went into a designer shop and spotted a coat I liked and it was in fashion, I picked up the price tag reading £260! I almost fainted. the most I spend on clothing is £50 so it was not like me at all, but my husband encouraged me and bought it, 2 months later I realised I didn’t really love that coat, the media had told me to buy it, so my husband managed to get it returned and here I am with my £260 back and happier than ever. it snapped me back into my reality and I know have made big changes in my life so I’m more natural like those tribal people I admire so much. I stop celebrating Christmas, or as I call it deptmas 😀 and being a Human of consumerism, When I travel, its as low cost as I can. I don’t buy fancy creams for my skin because I know there a life and get it cheap or free from a doctor, I don’t watch YouTubers who are trying to sell me stuff and deleted strangers from my Instagram and now only have people I know (which don’t flash fancy things) and I feel so free now. I love traveling and I inspire to never stop and that’s where my heart it.