7 Ways To Avoid Becoming A Travel Snob
There is nothing more infuriating than encountering travel snobbery from fellow backpackers. It’s funny, because the ideology that comes with world travel is one of acceptance; of being open-minded and curious about different types of people, cultures, and lands. Yet somehow, there are those that travel long-term that consider themselves ‘real travellers’ and openly scorn others as ‘tourists’, as though it’s a distasteful word. If you’re new to the backpacking scene, I think it’s massively important for you to be able to recognise travel snobbery, so you can avoid jumping on the bandwagon at all costs. So, here are seven ways to make sure you don’t become a travel snob.
If I had a penny for every time I heard somebody say, “Oh no, I’m not going there it’s far too touristy”, I could get a few nights’ free accommodation! Yes, some sights will be so well-known they’ll be packed with people excited to see a famous landmark, and yes, it’s totally acceptable to want to visit places that are a little more off the beaten track. However, refusing to experience something purely because of its tourist attraction status, and then broadcasting this to fellow travellers with pride, makes you, my friend, a travel snob.
2. Accept that you ARE a tourist
Travel snobs might consider a tourist somebody who takes tour buses in a new city instead of exploring by foot, or books onto a group excursion rather than make their own way somewhere. The official definition of a tourist though, is ‘a person who is travelling or visiting a place for pleasure’. So, label yourself a backpacker, nomad, world traveller, whatever you like, but the reality is we are all tourists.
3. Don’t expect everyone to be fluent in a foreign language
I once met an American guy, in a hostel in Ecuador, that started a conversation with me in Spanish. I played along to begin with, but I’ll be the first to admit that my language skills are not the best, despite having taken Spanish lessons for nine months before heading to South America. When I failed to continue the conversation in Spanish, I was treated to the remark, “Do you not speak Spanish?”, with a tone so patronisingly smug I took an instant disliking to this American jerk. Instead of acknowledging that I had made the effort to learn the basics of a foreign language, this travel snob looked down his nose at me. I mean, c’mon, I didn’t pay for lessons so I could impress you mate, and secondly, we both speak bloody English, so give the showing off a rest! Please people, do not follow in his footsteps.
4. Avoid stereotyping travel couples as boring
As somebody that’s travelled for months with my partner, this is a snobbery I experience first-hand. There’s an assumption that couples that travel together are boring/don’t want to get involved/need privacy. I actually had another backpacker once say to me, “Travel couples suck”. The reality though, is often the complete opposite. We’re travelling day in, day out with each other, of course we want to mix with new people! Don’t categorise backpacking couples, unless you want to be a travel snob.
5. Accept that not everybody wants to travel long-term
Once you’ve lived on the road for months, travelling from country to country, it’s hard to understand why anybody would not want to travel as much and as far as possible. If you want to avoid being a travel snob that pisses off your non-travel friends though, accept that your passion is not necessarily theirs. It’s OK to not understand why everyone does not live for travel, but making people feel like they’re living any less a life than you, because they haven’t seen Machu Picchu or trekked a mountain, is not OK.
6. Don’t judge those that like luxury
There’s a quote from Lao Tzu that says, ‘A good traveller has no fixed plans, and is not intent on arriving’. I cannot stand this quote. Who gets to define what a ‘good’ traveller is? There is no right or wrong way to travel. If you’re a budget backpacker moving from dorm to dorm, great. If you’re a luxury escape seeker lodging in four-star hotels, brilliant. Either way, you’re both people visiting new countries and enjoying travel in your own way. Neither is better than the other, and to consider yourself a ‘real traveller’ just because you rough it and avoid luxury, or vice versa, is the ultimate travel snobbery.
7. Eat what you like, and let others do the same
I love food. I love trying new foods. I accept though, that not everybody does and while I might encourage a fussy friend to please give this Thai or Cambodian cuisine a go, just to see what they think, if they prefer burger and chips so be it. While travelling though, you will inevitably meet those that will never, ever admit that they’re craving a McDonald’s, for fear of being seen as that dreadful ‘tourist’ stereotype. Likewise, you’ll meet backpackers that proudly declare, “I only eat local food”, as though that makes them better connected with their location. It’s your travels, eat what you enjoy!
I’m pretty sure there are more niggling annoyances I’ve encountered on my travels when presented with a travel snob, but I think the above list is a pretty comprehensive outline of the major things to avoid. Ultimately, it comes down to accepting that everybody travels in their own way, so worry less about commenting on how others go about it and concentrate on appreciating the amazing journey you are on!
What other tips would you give to avoid picking up travel snobbery habits? Feel free to share them in the comments below!