Eat Pray Spend

This is not the post I originally planned to put up–that one will appear in a few days.  Instead, it is an emotional response to the embarrassingly bad and thoroughly unrealistic “chick flick” Eat Pray Love and its relationship to what I am trying to accomplish in this blog.  Although the two may seem quite different, there are a number of unfortunate parallels.

In the movie a privileged Manhattanite divorces her husband and sets off on a worldwide search for enlightenment and self-discovery.  She rents a lovely apartment in Rome, one of the most expensive cities in the world, meditates in an Indian ashram, and winds up in a luxurious home on the island of Bali.  Nowhere, though, is there any mention of how she is paying for this voyage of self-discovery, a year-long odyssey whose out-of-pocket costs would probably run more than $100,000.  Furthermore, in the movie the heroine deals only with such problems as zipping up her jeans after a few too many pasta and pizza dinners, while in real life recently divorced women spend far more time fighting over shared assets, coping with anger, and stressing about how to pay the bills.

OK, why am I being so harsh on this Hollywood pot boiler?  Why dwell on what is nothing more than an excuse to spend a couple of hours munching popcorn while enjoying some lovely scenery?  The answer is that the unrealistic fantasies of Eat Pray Love are being reproduced daily on hundreds of travel blogs scattered across the Internet.

Like the Julia Roberts character, many of us dream about spending time on a tropical island paradise or in a Himalayan hideaway, and there are many sites that feed these fantasies–stories of people (I call them “privileged nomads”) who quit their job, sell the house, kiss friends and family good-bye, and set off around the world. However, when you dive into their “About Me” page you often discover they are either 1) independently wealthy, 2) have come into a significant windfall, 3) are living off the largesse of parents or exes, or 4) are knowingly denuding their life savings. Since most of us do not fall into any of these categories we erroneously conclude that our fantasy of living and working overseas is an unattainable dream; something that happens only in B-movies and to the “other guy.”  Unfortunately, that skepticism spills over to other places, including this blog.  After reading about my working vacations in London, Sydney, Jerusalem, Nairobi, and Istanbul they believe that, while enjoyable to follow (the blog equivalent of a B-movie), they could never have the kind of adventures described in these posts.

My passion for travel writing is to convince you that living and working in some exotic, overseas locale is not an unrealistic goal and not a scriptwriter’s fantasy. If you are a professional with a marketable skill, e.g., doctor, nurse, lawyer, teacher, banker, business person, engineer, scientist, artist, etc., there are many host countries eager to exploit your skills by offering temporary employment for periods ranging from one month to one year. And, unlike Julia Roberts, by earning enough money to cover most or all of your travel expenses you need not be a lottery winner, rolling in alimony, or the scion of a wealthy Wall Streeter to fulfill your dreams.

As I wrote in Getting Out of That Rut, one fact that is quite clear to me is there is no shortage of working vacation opportunities, only a shortage of the motivation needed to go after them.  I hope you will read this blog with a different attitude from the one you had watching Eat Pray Love.  I have no desire to write popcorn escapism, and my goal is not simply to entertain you with fun stories–reading someone else’s adventures may be a pleasant diversion, but it is nothing like the thrill of experiencing those same adventures for yourself.  I hope you will read the current and future posts on this blog with the sincere belief that these adventures are not something that happen only to the “other guy” but, instead, represent a life style choice available to anyone with the drive and energy to make it happen.

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One response to “Eat Pray Spend

  1. I agree the movie did not get into how she funded her trip, but the book from which the movie was written, which is autobiographical, talks about working as a freelance writer, which was her work for years before she made that journey. So, she was most likely able to travel in the same way that you are — by taking “assignments” that happen to involve traveling overseas. As I read the book more than 3 years ago, I can’t remember all the details, if any, she listed, but I imagine she had quite a few miles built up and probably could borrow from friends and family – I don’t remember thinking that she made it sound like an easy trip to fund or plan for. And let’s face it, you don’t need very much to live in India (particularly in an ashram where meals and lodging are generally provided for little if any money) or Bali! I lived in Rome as a student and there are many ways to live well without spending a lot, although I imagine the apartment was not inexpensive. Anyway, perhaps you might feel better about it if you read the book, as movies tend to be more about the characters and presenting the fantasy without those pesky little details about how they get there in the 2 + hours they have to tell the story Keep up the good work and happy trails!

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