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6 Ways To Not Be A Holier-Than-Thou Traveler

by Christine DeSadeleer Jun 17, 2009
Wow, you know so much about everything! Save it for the book.

Alright, you’ve been to 220 countries. You’ve ridden in the front seat of a speeding Myanmar junta’s jeep, jumped into and splashed around the Citarum river, and kissed a woman (and a man) in Antarctica.

Wait, there’s only like 195 countries.

Point is, you think highly of your well-traveled self. And although the Citarum river swim may be a slight stretch of the truth, you’ve had many crazy and amazing adventures during your world travels.

But now you are pretty much tethered to one place, be it home or expat-land, and are wondering why people sigh when you walk toward them.

Or why your friend has banned comments from you on his blog – I mean, you only called his stories about visiting museums in Italy glib and a complete waste of time twice, for pete’s sake. Can’t the guy take a little constructive criticism?

Yeeah. Here’s some desperately needed advice, even if you don’t think you need it.

Trust me, you probably do.

1. Did I Tell You About The Time…?

Just because you think it’s important to know that the national dish of Azerbaijan, yarpag dolmasi, tastes divine, because of course you’ve made it yourself in the back of a little restaurant…(and thud! your friend’s head hits the table), doesn’t mean anyone else gives a damn.

Telling people stories about your travels can be highly entertaining for both sides involved, but whenever you start dropping in little-known-facts that really are only there to show off how much you’ve seen and done, I guarantee that eye-rolling and head smashing will commence.

2. I Am Right, You Are Wrong. Therefore, I Am Better Than You.

When you read the travel postings of others, don’t tear down what they are saying because you’ve “experienced more” and “know better.” Yeech.

There is always room for noting a difference of opinion.

But there is no need to verbally abuse the author or what they have said even if you were an eyewitness to a situation that completely goes against what they are saying. Mention your experience and move on.

3. I Thrive On Adventure. Therefore, I Am Better Than You.

Don’t act as if the people in your life who are focused on driving to and from work, getting their kids to dance class/soccer camp, or who enjoy watching Survivor, but would abhor the idea of ever participating in it, are less evolved.

Yeah, this one is easy to fall into. But everyone has a purpose in this lifetime, and it may not include flying off into the sunset. We need all types to keep this world a moving and a shaking, so appreciate that you are dependent on the wifi they keep up and running, enabling you to blog about that insane wave you witnessed at Desert Point, man.

4. I Only Visit Small, Unheard-Of Towns And Provinces. Therefore, I Am Better Than You.

Don’t act as if people who call London or Sydney or New York their favorite places to visit are less evolved.

I’m glad you braved traveling through the Congo. It’s wonderful that you took part in the Nettle Eating Championship in Dorset. It doesn’t make someone else less of a human being that they don’t want to have a similar experience.

5. This Place Is Soooo 1999.

Don’t say that [insert here] is SO much better at composting/recycling/biodynamic farming, offers SO much more organic, gluten-free, raw foods, has FANTASTIC public transportation/bars/restaurants/fine looking men and/or women.

Oh, I’m hugely guilty of this one. It can be so easy to just go on and on about how much better one place is than another.

Truth is, every place has their positives and negatives, and really, any place is what you make of it. So get over your trash (even if it’s in a pleasant tone) talk, and appreciate where you’ve landed (even if that’s home).

6. I Vibrate On A Higher Plain That Doesn’t Include Alcohol.

No need to show off how spiritual you are now that you’ve visited Thailand/India/a random ashram in nowhere, Maine.

I’m all for the spiritual epiphanies – they’re fantastic. But when you meet up with some of your old friends in Rio and they are ready to head out for the evening around midnight, the last thing they want to hear is you sniff haughtily and say, “I mustn’t go because I will be getting up at 4:30am for my three hour morning meditation.”

I know it can be hard to navigate a new-found spiritual lifestyle when it collides with your old, let’s say, more social ways, but you have to figure out a happy medium that doesn’t piss everyone off.

When it comes to spirituality, I’m personally all for the seen-and-not-heard path; this way, if people are interested, they’ll ask you about it. And then there’s no need to clobber them over the head with it, or more importantly, have them clobber you in the mouth.

What other seeds of wisdom do you have for the holier-than-thou traveler? Share your thoughts below.

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