(This article is part of a double feature along with an article titled: 11 Reasons Why You Should Travel)
Travel is awesome! If you read the article I posted just above with the benefits travel brings to human beings, you’ll know that I really believe this.
As I said in the other article, travel makes you a better person than you were before. The problem is when people who travel begin to see themselves as better than others simply because they’ve had experiences that the majority of the world population doesn’t have access to.
Even worse is when they think they are so superior to others that they begin to act super arrogant. This makes every interaction with them a nightmare, whether you are a stranger, friend, or even other travelers.
And don’t get me wrong. I’m certainly not perfect and I can honestly say that maybe I’ve acted in this same presumptuous way or said things that came off as arrogant. And if I’ve ever conveyed an image of superiority whether in this blog or in real life, I’m sorry…that hasn’t been my intention.
Sometimes, the thrill of wanting to tell stories about our life around the world make us seem like attention-hogs that come off as a bit egocentric. But at least in my case, I just want to share my happiness and achievements even if you don’t actually give a damn (*or a shit*) about them… : – )
Anyway, I decided to write up some of the examples of uncool traveler habits that I’ve personally seen from THOSE travelers:
Believing that they travel to better places than everyone else
We often say that Europe is somewhat of a “test drive” for many new travelers.
It’s fairly safe and very easy to travel in thanks to its excellent public transportation system and a wide range of accommodation. So, Europe is often one of the beginning destinations for first-time travelers.
Which means that someone who has already traveled a lot has probably been to Europe – and probably Southeast Asia – and is probably in search of destinations that seem more “exotic” like Central Asia or West Africa.
And of course, this isn’t a bad thing! You should travel to wherever interests you. But it becomes a problem when people act like traveling to these “exotic” destinations makes them smarter/more interesting/more unique travelers.
Here’s how it goes down.
Let’s say you are in a bar in Berlin and you meet someone who tells you they’ve just arrived after an incredible trip in France…and is super excited about it.
But then comes that a$*hole with the famous been there, done that attitude: “eh, France. I’ve already been there. It’s kinda cool but nothing special. I just finished a trip to Kazakhstan. Now that’s exotic.”
Cool, congrats on visiting a place that not many other people have. But France is still an awesome place to visit (which is why so many people visit every year!) and talking this way just ruins everyone else’s day.
Of course, person #2 is welcome to tell you about his trip to Kazakhstan – and I’d be the first to ask because I’m super curious. But it’d be great if he was a bit more modest and respectful without that tone of superiority.
No one likes people like that!
“Showing off” because they’ve been to more countries or had more experiences than other travelers
I meet people like this all the time.
You’re in a hostel and you meet a backpacker who’s super pumped to be on their first trip. They tell you about bunch of cool things that’s already happened on the trip alongside the challenges and mess ups (like when they got scammed by that taxi driver). You listen because it’s great to meet someone who’s been bitten by “the travel bug”…and the more people like this, the better the world!
But then comes that punk that’s already been halfway around the world and makes fun of our friend: “and you’re just starting! One day you’ll learn! If I were you, I would just travel around Europe because if you go to Southeast Asia you’ll never survive….”
And I’m writing this exact point because I’ve watched these situations unfold more than once!
Why bother being so superior?!?! Instead of being a jerk, the TRAVEL “specialist” should be a bit more helpful: “don’t worry, this happens to all travelers. If you want, I can give you some tips to avoid those types of situations….”
See? A much more pleasant and positive attitude.
Oh, and another characteristic of these types of travelers? People who casually throw out the number of countries they’ve been to whenever they can…or bring up stories like “when I was in Mongolia/Eritrea/etc….” even when the story is lame – just so they can make sure you know they’ve been there!
Competing to see who did the coolest things, had the most adventures, or spent “enough time” in a certain destination
You’re talking with someone and you tell them about your trip to Beijing, China. Of course, you’ll probably be asked “did you visit the Forbidden City, the Great Wall of China, Tiananmen Square, the Temple of Heaven, etc…?”
And there I was thinking I had a great trip, but I didn’t have time on my trip to Beijing to visit the Temple of Heaven. And the other guy says: “oh no, you missed out!!! It’s the most amazing place in Beijing. Visiting China and not visiting the Temple of the Heaven is the same as not visiting at all!”
And to put the cherry on top, he demands: “how long did you spend there? Only 4 days!?!?! Whoa, very little. To actually get to know Beijing you need at least a week!!”
I see this same mindset all the time in guide books that recommend you stay an absurd amount of time in each city to really “get to know” it.
Look, I’m lucky that my type of work gives me a lot of opportunities to travel and I’m grateful for that every day.
And I definitely believe that spending a long period of time in a country is very different than visiting as a tourist, which is why I’ve spent time “living” in a bunch of different countries.
But seriously, not that many people have the time to spend a full week in every place they visit. There are people that don’t even manage to get ONE week of vacation each year!
I’m aware of the reality of the majority of people when it comes to travel time. So, bragging about the travel opportunities I had in life will just make me an arrogant brat in the eyes of others.
Negatively comparing the place they are in now with other places they’ve visited
You’re visiting an awesome beach in Australia with a group of travelers when someone says “ehh, the beaches are better in Palau/the Caribbean/Thailand, etc.”
This is a jerk move and can even end up sounding very petty if there’s someone from a place like Armenia in your group who hasn’t had the opportunity to visit a beach before. ‘Superior airs’ just spoil everyone else’s experience.
This is true for basically any other attraction…. “yeah, this museum is super boring. I went to the Louvre in Paris and there’s no comparison!”
Good for you that you’ve visited the Louvre! But give a bit of value to what you’re visiting and learning about at that moment. Nobody wants to know how well-traveled you are…they just want to enjoy the moment themselves which could be very special if they haven’t traveled as much as you have.
I know that comparing different things in life is just a part of human nature, but in cases like this keep the comparisons in your head if it’s just going to rain on others’ parades!
Being convinced that backpackers/travelers are better than tourists
Look, this comparison is (almost) as old as humanity. This idea that tourists don’t have trips that are as “authentic” or integrated as ‘true’ travelers or backpackers.
This comparison generates a surprising amount of controversy. I myself have maybe been involved in this debate…and not in the nicest way.
I personally prefer independent budget travel over doing it in a group or a tour. But that’s not to say that someone who buys a tour or heads to London just to see the main attractions or shop is doing it wrong. Everyone should just travel the way that makes them happy!
Which is why I even wrote an article with the 5 Best Group Travel Companies on the Market. Inside, besides the top companies I also give all the reasons why being part of a tour group or buying a travel package is the best option for some types of trips.
And of course, when I’m lost in the middle of Seoul, South Korea with a map open, I couldn’t look more like a tourist myself!
Complaining that a place was much better in the past because it wasn’t as developed or as full of tourists
This is classic. Some dude visited Cambodia 15 years ago when it was very underdeveloped.
After visiting again and seeing a bunch of paved roads, drinkable water, cars instead of animal-pulled carts, etc….and he has the BALLS to complain and say that the country has “changed” and “lost its charm!” That it was now much more developed and too full of tourists (like himself, by the way).
Thank God the place has developed! Wanting a place to stay poor with dirt roads without a sewage system just so it stays “traditional enough” for him is the peak of selfishness!
I’d love if one day all of the countries of the world could be as developed as Switzerland in terms of quality of life. The world would be a better place. Too bad for those who prefer “poverty porn” instead.
But in this aspect, I can be a bit guilty myself so I want to try to clear it up a bit….. In our article about How to Visit North Korea on a Budget, I do say that someone interested in visiting the country should do so as quickly as possible before the influence of capitalism (an influence that I think would be really good for the country, actually) comes.
This isn’t to say that I don’t want to North Korea to open and become a better place for its citizens (because of course I do), and I in no way, shape, or form want it to stay “traditional” just so travelers can get a kick from visiting.
But I say visit soon because are definitely some aspects of the country that are very unique, although very sad at the same time.
Traveling with a closed-mind and thinking that everything is better where they’re from
Let’s go back to the example of the beach in Australia.
I know that my home country, Brazil, has an awesome coast with plenty of parties and lively people. But for me to keep complaining about the destinations I’m visiting because they “aren’t as good as my own country” just doesn’t make sense!
If your country is so great, then stay there and don’t travel only to just to keep degrading other countries and people.
I saw this a lot when I was living in Australia (but you’ll find the same with travelers, as well). There was a Brazilian guy that only hung out with other Brazilians, only had parties and barbeques with other Brazilians, and did nothing but complain about Australians – that they were as sociable as Brazilians, that they didn’t know how to party, that their food sucked, etc…
Come on. If you’re crossing the world to only stick around with Brazilians and not try out the local culture and customs, you may as well not leave Brazil in the first place. (Oh, and your ‘English’ – the reason you came in the first place – probably won’t get better either.)
Yeah, Australians in general have a different lifestyle than Brazilians do, but this doesn’t mean it’s better or worse…just different. And since you’re there anyway, why not embrace the experience of living with them so you can certainly learn something new and grow as a person.
The more you travel with an open mind, the more you’ll be able to absorb and learn.
But if you’re going to travel with a closed mind that’ll keep you complaining the whole time, just stay at home in your comfort zone. It’s better for you, your travel companions, and the people of the country you’re visiting that don’t need to put up with your bad mood.
Obviously, that’s not to say that all countries are perfect. And when you travel, there are definitely going to be things that annoy you no matter where you are. I would humbly suggest you to remind yourself that you have the privilege to travel so you may as well try to stay positive as much as you can.
Or the opposite: hating wherever they are from so much that they think everything overseas is better (or pretending they do to try to impress people)
I’ll never forget the one time my plane landed in my home city of São Paulo and a fellow Brazilian proclaimed: “welcome to the third world!”
And we hear this type of comments all the time: “because in New York, the metro system is much better, because Holland is much cleaner, because in Sweden the people are more educated, etc….”
But let’s be honest. I am fully aware of Brazil’s problems. Whether corruption (political, business, or personal), lack of government efficiency, sucky education, bad infrastructure, etc…but we can all agree that Brazil also has a lot of things that make it great. And if anything, traveling to other places that don’t have those same things should make you appreciate them back home even more.
Plus, there are nearly 240 countries and territories around the world and there are MUCH worse places to live than Brazil. There’s some people I’ve met traveling that would give an arm and a leg to live in my country.
So, if you want to compare your destination with your country of origin, why not make it constructive. Something like this: “São Paulo’s metro is really good and modern, but it’s a shame that it’s not as extensive as New York’s. Hopefully, it’ll grow that way over time.”
Instead of with that attitude that nobody likes…because at the end of the day, everyone knows you’re only saying that to show well-traveled you are.
As I said at the start, I’m sure at one time or another I’ve been exactly one of THOSE travelers brought up in the article. And for this, I’d like to apologize.
I’m always trying make myself a better person. So, I’m always trying to make sure that I don’t fall into one of the above and come off as arrogant when I’m talking with friends, family, or strangers about my trips and experiences.
But I think this is the biggest takeaway: if you sense that the narration of your stories around the world comes off as negative to others, just adjust your tone.
Then your conversation about traveling (something that I love) will be pleasant for all those involved… and not just for you.
Now, it’s your turn! Have you ever encountered someone like this? Have you ever met a pain-in-the-ass traveler (besides me ? ) that wouldn’t stop bragging about their trips without realizing that you really don’t want to listen?
Leave your comments below and we always respond!
And finally….don’t be that traveler!
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