You know, there’s a state of mind, an attitude, a way to interact with the world that frequent travelers often develop. After all, we meet so many different people, we are exposed to culture, art, architecture, history…we broaden our horizons and invite the world into our souls.
I can summarize it in one word:
Look at me, on a mountaintop in Switzerland, hair blowing majestically (MAJESTICALLY, I tell you!) in the wind! It was quite a hike to the top, but worth it for that view. Now I am off to ski!
LIES! IT’S ALL LIES! Okay, not ALL! In reality, yes I am on a mountaintop in Switzerland, my hair IS blowing majestically (Hey, if you squint real hard and tilt your head, it kinda sorta not-really-at-all looks like a crown. So, majestically!) in the wind, but OF COURSE I didn’t hike up there. There’s a nice cable car that will take you to the top. Maximum view, minimum effort, just the way I like it.
See what I mean? Editing photos to misrepresent how adventurous and amazing we are? Everyone does it, and it’s just another symptom of douchebaggery!
It’s a condition you will begin to develop once you’ve been on 3 or more trips abroad, but don’t worry. There’s levels to it, and as long as you aim for stage 1, yellow lever, with only occasional spikes into stage 2, orange level, then you’re okay. Truly.
Oh, do you think it doesn’t apply to you? Do you think you’re immune?
Tell me if any of these statements sound at all familiar to you:
“You love the new Italian place in town? Yeah, I mean, it’s okay, I like their tiramisu. It reminds me of one I had in Venice, at this gorgeous little bistro, tucked away in a back alley. You HAVE to go if you ever visit, it’s so out of the way that only locals know about it!”
Douchebag alert, yellow level!
Food is a great way to connect with a different country and culture, but don’t passive-aggressively belittle someone else’s enjoyment just because they haven’t had the same experiences as you. Also, the fact that “only locals know about it” isn’t actually a stamp of quality. No matter where you go in the world, the locals are usually poorer than you. If you really do find a place where MOSTLY locals go (after all, you found it, so odds are pretty good that some other tourists have too), it can be a great experience and fantastic value for money, but the idea that it’s automatically BETTER than a place popular with tourists, is a myth.
“How many countries have you visited? You don’t count? Well, I just reached fifty countries! It’s getting hard to find new places to visit. My goal is to hit 100 in the next 5 years.”
Douchebag alert, orange level!
If you want to count how many countries you have been to, go for it! Many people do. Personally, I don’t, but that’s mostly because it’s too much like math, and…no. Just no. BUT, don’t go around comparing your count to other people’s. It’s not a bloody competition, and even if it was, the winner GETS TO TRAVEL TO AMAZING PLACES, not lord it over other people less fortunate than you. It’s like walking up to someone and asking how much money is in their wallet, then bragging about how much you have in comparison!
“Oh, you’re going to London/Paris/Rome/Any other major tourist destination on the planet? Why would you go there? It’s such a tourist trap!”
DOUCHEBAG ALERT, RED LEVEL! I repeat, DOUCHEBAG ALERT, RED LEVEL! Please follow the exit signs and evacuate the building immediately!
This is a major pet peeve of mine, yet I am ABSOLUTELY guilty of making similar comments myself. Like I said, ALL frequent travelers have moments when our inner travel snob/douchebag blurts out something similar to what I’ve listed here. The thing is, those “tourist traps” are popular FOR A REASON! And BECAUSE they are popular, you can often find affordable flights and accommodation there, which makes it a great option for first, or second, or even third time travelers. Why would you rob them of their pride and enjoyment in visiting these places? How does that make you anything but a dickbag???
And yes, we can talk about responsible travel, we can talk about the toll tourism takes on popular destinations, there’s a whole WORLD of politics, economics and environmental concerns that plays into this issue, but did you bring any of that up???
NO! You spoke without thinking and in doing so you degraded someone else’s experience/dream, making them feel small so you could feel big. And I’m sure that wasn’t your intention, I know it’s never been mine, but that’s what happens nonetheless.
So, here’s a goal for every boy and girl out there (myself included):
Let’s all try not to be dicks.
Happy trails, everyone!