An Open Letter to My Fellow Travelgramers

Hey Hey Travelistas!

What’s new? How are you? WHERE are you? Haha, I bet you get that a lot, right? I know I do! Before I forget, I saw your pictures from Machu Picchu – wow! Oh, and the Sphinx too – double wow! How was Egypt, by the way? Go/No Go? I’ve been considering it.

Anyway, I’m writing to ask a small favor. And I’m only bringing it up because a lot of people have been mentioning it to me lately and I figured you should hear it from me first. I don’t know how to say this nicely, so let me just put it out there: Can you guys please stop being such pretentious assholes? 

Well, that was a little harsh. So let me explain. No one has a problem with your Instagram pictures and the blog posts and all that stuff. It’s great. We love it! I post all the time too. Quite frankly, everyone overdoes it with social media these days. So no one’s faulting you for that.

But it’s just that sometimes you come off kind of… preachy, you know? A little snobby, if you will. Like, for example, that time you scoffed at someone for even considering visiting Australia for anything less than two weeks? That was pretty rude. Or how about when you went on that big rant about how Montenegro is “the new Croatia” now that “all the tourists ruined Croatia”? I do. It was embarrassing. Also, Croatia’s still Croatia, look it up! Or what about when you suggested that your cousin skip his annual family vacation to Ocean City, NJ and visit Panama instead? Maybe it really is “the same price” but I don’t think his ten year old is going to be that jazzed about a canal, you know?

All I’m saying is, try to be open-minded when people talk about their vacation plans. Not everyone travels like you do. Some people prefer megaresorts. They like going to the same place every year. They don’t want to try the sea urchin. Just let them be!

 

Also, I have to tell you, another thing that people are really getting annoyed about is the quotes. I have to agree with them. You guys all use the same ones over and over. They’re not original and, if I’m being honest, they’re not even that good. My favorite is “The world is a book and those who do not travel only read one page.” Like, really?! Wow! That’s some condescension masquerading as inspiration if I ever saw it. Put that book back on the shelf, would you?

Here’s a quote I like better: “Travel makes a wise man better and a fool worse.” I thought Ben Franklin said that, but it’s actually Thomas Fuller. Either way, he’s totally right. Traveling doesn’t automatically make you wise. Having a laundry list of countries visited does not equate to real life experience. Getting on a plane doesn’t mean you “get it.”

Traveling isn’t a shortcut to enlightenment. Remember that the next time you trot out your quote about the book of life and throw shade on the people sitting at home. I got news for you: Some people don’t want to travel. They don’t like to travel. That’s not a crime. Even if it was, you’re not the goddamn police!

 

Another thing, you don’t need to make everything about you. Like, when other people are posting photos from their trips, let them have their moment. Resist the urge to point out that you’ve been to such-and-such place already (many times! before it was popular!). Don’t call out all the places nearby that are “better” that they should have gone to instead (so close! missed out!). And don’t taunt people about special deals you got or lines you skipped – it’s a little late for that.

Please don’t even try to hide behind the idea of “shared experience.” I don’t buy that. I mean, I might if your comments were a sincere attempt at conversation, but they hardly ever are. They’re usually about you. How you did it better, cheaper, faster, longer – and also found all the best tapas along the way. Maybe you did and that’s great. Save it for your own page!

 

Speaking of sharing, let’s talk about recommendations. Of course, if people ask you for advice on things to see and do, by all means – share away. Who doesn’t want tips for restaurants, bars, hotels and attractions in a new place? Well, some people don’t actually, that’s my point.

If people aren’t ask for your advice, tread lightly. Before you doll out any tips, stop and ask yourself a few things: Is the other person going to enjoy this activity as much as I did? Is the thing I’m recommending obscure enough that I even need to point it out? Am I confident that the thing I’m recommending is still worth doing? Can I share this information in a polite and reasonable way? If you answered “No” to any of those questions, then sit on it.

It’s difficult, I know! I’ll be the first to admit, I sometimes act like a local authority when I have absolutely no qualifications for doing so. In fact, just the other day, I saw that another travel blogger was in Dublin and I posted a “tip” for a whiskey bar that I “found” while I was there in July. Like it takes talent to spot a bar in Ireland. Sometimes I can’t stand myself.

 

Actually, let me be honest. I’m guilty of all that bad behavior and then some. I post too many photos. I hashtag the shit out of all of them. I cross promote ad nauseam. The sad part is, I never wanted to be like that and I kind of hate that I am. I started my blog because I loved to write and I only joined Instagram to have some pictures for my posts. But then social media started to lead to real opportunities and real money and I got wrapped up in self-promotion.

Somewhere along the way, I got this idea that the more photos I take, the more followers I’ll get, the more blog readers I’ll generate, the more likely I’ll be to someday get a book deal. I know that sounds ludicrous, but you know as well as I do that it’s happened to so many other people already. I can’t help but try. I have a feeling you’re doing the exact same thing.

But let’s get back to the point. If you’re anything like me, then you adopted the nomadic life because you couldn’t stand convention. You didn’t want to conform to someone else’s idea of what makes for a full and happy life. You wanted to do your own thing and live on your own terms. That’s a wonderful and beautiful thing you did for yourself. I’m proud of you. I’m happy for you.

Now, in return, please extend that same level of openness and respect to the people who don’t share your lifestyle. All of them: The couch potatoes. The expired passport holders. The domestic-only vacationers. The people holding up the airport security line with a full size bottle of shampoo and a can of tuna fish.

And, yes, even your cousin on vacation in New Jersey.

 

6 Comments
  1. Nicely put! 20 years ago when I spent months backpacking round Asia, us backpackers wanted the world to know we weren’t tourists, we were travelers. The sheer pretension of that makes me squirm now. We were so tourists, just tourists who hunted out cheap food and hostels and tried to talk to locals. Traveling’s a huge thing to me but it doesn’t make me more enlightened than anyone else, just better traveled.

    By the way, you came to New Zealand before I started following your blog, but if you ever come back, I’ve got a spare bed in Christchurch and would love to meet you.

    • Amen! I spend so much time insisting, “I’m not a backpacker!” And “I’m not a tourist!” But I’m both – though a slightly different version of each.

      In any case, thanks for reading – and thanks for the offer of a place to stay. NZ was one of my absolute favorite stops. I’ll definitely go back again… but not for anything less than 3 weeks :)

      Thanks again!! Happy travels!

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