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How To Talk About Your Holidays Without Sounding Like A Jerk

How To Talk About Your Holidays Without Sounding Like A Jerk

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I travel quite a lot. I’m not funding an eternal summer through my Instagram profile alone, but I do OK. And because I’m in my 30s, and gainfully employed, I’ve been doing OK for some time. I’ve seen a decent chunk of the world, witnessed many diverse cultures, and returned home with a stockpile of experiences that have enriched my daily life. But I like to think I’m not a jerk about it, deliberately trying to cause travel envy about my holidays and adventures.

The problem with people who travel frequently is that they are frequently insufferable. They view their experiences as exclusive and themselves as superior – as members of an elite club of globetrotting coolness that homebodies can’t help but admire. This jerk ruins travel for everyone. Don’t be this jerk. Here’s how.

Understand That You Are Not A Famous Explorer

Understand That You Are Not A Famous Explorer

Taking frequent overseas trips may have been the exclusive domain of wild spirits and war correspondents in the past, but it’s now a totally mundane privilege of the middle and upper classes. Just because your travel feels special to you does not make your travel special, and everywhere you are likely to go is already a well-trodden path. Be careful no to overdo it or travel envy is the last thing people will feel – behind boredom.

So have a great time (just like everyone else!) and don’t brag about it when you get home. Trying to cause travel envy in your friends ain’t cool.

Let People Come To You With Questions

Are you burning to pass on your expert tips and do-not-miss travel knowledge? Maybe don’t. One of the primary joys of travel is personal discovery – seeing and experiencing the world first hand and finding out how you fit. Some people like to go well-researched and prepared, and some people like to fly blind.

If you offer a know-it-all brain dump before you’re asked, you run the risk of tarnishing someone else’s excitement, because you’ve already forecast every surprise of their trip. And while it may seem like a terrible waste taking your travel wisdom to the grave, you really have nothing to worry about. Literally everything you think you know is readily available on the internet. Literally everything.

Don’t Treat Travel Like A Competitive Sport

Don’t Treat Travel Like A Competitive Sport

The most heinous kind of well-travelled jerk is one who meets every travel story with a better story of their own. Oh, you enjoyed the tropical bliss of Bali? Take it from me, you haven’t experienced tropical bliss until you’ve surfed Costa Rica. Oh, you saw the Eiffel Tower? Ho hum. It’s not a patch on the Beijing National Stadium. I heard you went to Antarctica? Yeah, it looked really beautiful from space.

The purpose of these kind of conversations is for you to build yourself up by diminishing other people, which is a terrible way to live. It also diminishes travel to some kind of check-list that you’re gunning to finish before everyone else, as though your whole life was a season of The Amazing Race.

The thing about The Amazing Race is that the competitors are all too busy sweating and yelling at each other to enjoy visiting other countries. And – interesting sidebar – all the locals think they’re jerks.

Be Curious About Other People’s Experiences

Be Curious About Other People’s Experiences

You don’t know everything, you haven’t seen it all and you never know what you’ll learn from looking through someone else’s eyes. The world is not a fixed place that we all experience in an identical fashion.

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We change it just by being there and it changes without us, over time. If you listen when other people talk about their own travel experiences, your own impression of a place could be enriched and deepen in unexpected ways. This doesn’t just apply to travel, either, it’s a general rule for life. While it’s not cool to force others to feel travel envy, having travel envy or curiosity of your own it totally OK.

Don’t Talk About How Much Travel Has Changed You

Don’t Talk About How Much Travel Has Changed You

Travel does have the capacity to change you. Being exposed to different cultures in a deep and meaningful way can permanently alter the way you see the world. But most often, we are just tourists wandering the same superficial tourist route, scrambling to find the same “authentic” experiences and taking way too many photos of everything. We’re having a great time being away from home, and that’s more than enough.

You’re unlikely to find yourself out in the world if you couldn’t do it at home, and even if you do, there’s really no need to broadcast it. Yet again, it’s a none-too-subtle way of telling someone that you’re better than them, because you’re a radically evolved traveller type and they’re just a boring piece of poo. Ironically, in this scenario, it is you who are the poo.

This post was originally published on September 18th, 2016 and has since been updated. 

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