Travel has taught me to be less judgmental, to be more forgiving, and how to go with the flow. It’s introduced me to a wide range of personalities and taught me how to tell with them. One thing I’ve noticed is that many people like to gloat about their travels. To them, travel is a big game of one-upmanship. They are always trying to outdo someone else’s story. I see your “eating with a hill tribe” story with a “learning to hunt with a bushman” tale.
Travel is such a big part of my life that it’s hard not to start stories with, “Yeah, I agree. That’s like this one time in Thailand…” Since so many of my stories have happened while traveling, it’s bound to happen. But I’ve become self-aware about it and try to keep it to a minimum.
However, I can’t stand people who aren’t self-aware about it, showboating all the countries they’ve traveled to. They come off as douchebags. Travel is a personal journey and everyone has their own stories, tales, and reasons for going. If you don’t want to come off as a douche, but still talk about your travels and have people be interested, here are seven tips that won’t make them feel you’re trying to gloat.
1. Don’t place drop.
Do you summer in the Hamptons? Have you ridden a yacht in the French Riviera? Attended Sundance? Been to Antarctica? Well, good for you!! However, there’s no need to constantly brag about it all the time. It makes you come off as arrogant. We get it. You’ve done cool things. You went to those places because you wanted to, but it doesn’t necessarily make you a better, cooler person. Not everyone is going to have the chances or desire to visit the places you’ve been.
2. Don’t tell people you are a better traveler.
Telling people they’re “doing it wrong” is a surefire way to piss people off. There’s no right way to travel. There are tips that can make travel more efficient, but right and wrong? It’s up to the person. That’s why my most important travel rule is “do what you want.” It’s their trip, not yours, so let them do it their way.
3. Don’t tell people they “should have gone to X.”
People go where they want to go, not where you think they should go. By all means suggest destinations, but telling them “they missed out on the real [insert country name]” because they didn’t make it to some particular city makes you judgmental.
4. Don’t tell people a destination was better X years ago.
If a place was so good all those years ago, why are you still here? I love the Full Moon Party in Thailand. I’ve been seven times. And every time I’m there, I hear people complain about how lame the party has become. If it’s so horrible now, leave. Don’t tell people their destination was better in the past. They didn’t go there in the past, they’re there now, and that’s all they have to judge it by. Maybe the Full Moon Party was cooler in 1992. I don’t know. I’m having a great time now. That’s my only measuring stick.
5. Don’t tell people you’ve been to X countries.
No one cares. I mean this is my least favorite thing people do. It’s about depth, not length. Been to one more country than I have? Good for you, but making me feel bad because I decided to stay in places longer or not race around is going to make you look like the jerk you probably are.
6. Don’t act like you know it all.
I’ve been on the road for 8 years and make it a point to find out arcane facts and tips people don’t use because it’s my job and I still learn tips and tricks every day I am out there. You can’t possibly know it all about travel. That’s like saying you know everything about science! And one day someone will come along and correct you and you’ll shrink away like an idiot. Better to keep your mouth shut.
7. Don’t travel to make travel a contest.
Every time you say “but I…” you turn a personal trip into a contest. That’s wonderful that you visited Thailand on only $10 a day, or found some hidden restaurant, or have been to more countries than someone. You are not impressing people, and they’ll resent you for undermining their achievements. Travel is not a contest. It’s not a race to see who can travel cheaper. It’s someone’s personal route around the world. Don’t take that away from someone.
Be helpful and supportive of your fellow travelers. Offer advice when asked. Don’t always talk about “that time in Paris.” Be humble. Be cool. You wouldn’t like it if people did it to you, so don’t do it to others. Just enjoy your travels and be happy others are joining you on this fabulous journey.
Because remember – no one likes a douche.