But there is a certain type of traveler that always leaves us scratching our heads – the travelers who completely change now that they are abroad.
It’s almost like there is some book they’ve all read teaching them how “authentic” travelers should act.
Not sure what we mean? Here are some examples:
Overdosing on Positivity
Some travelers will insist to the very end that they love absolutely every aspect about every culture they encounter.
We call bullshit on this one!
While it’s admirable to hold back from making judgments about a culture that isn’t your own, no one likes everything, and it’s just ridiculous to pretend you do. It’s okay to complain about a long journey on a crowded bus. It’s okay to think some local foods are too spicy or too sweet or too bland. It’s okay to be overwhelmed by a bustling, crazy city, or bored with a sleepy little village.
You don’t have to give up all your opinions to be a traveler.
Singing Praises to Street Food
For some reason, nothing makes an overexcited traveler feel more “authentic” than eating lukewarm meat on a stick from a street cart with questionable cleanliness standards.
Street food seems very “exotic” to those of us from England or America, but after a few purchases we realized that the quality of most street food is pretty low, and it will often have you running for a toilet shortly after.
You can find much tastier and safer local food in a restaurant, even if it’s just a family-owned hole-in-the-wall.
(If you do want to try the street food, at least find a stand that has the locals lining up. An unpopular stand is unpopular for a reason!)
Getting Too Deep
There are so many travelers out there claiming to have had some kind of spiritual awakening while exploring remote corners of the world.
Of course, we’ve all experienced personal growth while traveling. But there’s something a little fake (not to mention cringeworthy) about someone going over the top with their newfound philosophies, flaunting them in everyone’s face.
Extra bullshit points if all those profound, poetic words actually mean very little when put under scrutiny. True wisdom is more than just sounding nice.
Knowing It All
As a traveler, you are always the student, never the teacher.
Which is great if you are a curious, humble, open minded person. But if you like to know it all, you’re better off staying home because you’ll never really be able to claim expertise on a culture that’s not your own. You can’t become an insider.
As expats living in Bangkok, there are few things that annoy us more than hearing a backpacker act as if they are an authority on this city – especially if they’ve spent less than a week here and have barely left Khao San Road.
If it bothers us, how much more would it bother a local?
A Return to University Days
Yes, this was Simon’s old university home!
Finally, despite lofty claims of spiritual growth, increased maturity, and global awareness, too many travelers have actually reverted back to the adolescent behavior of their dorm days. Pop into a hostel, and you’ll find people stealing each other’s food out of the communal kitchen, using each other’s shower gel without permission, and getting in petty fights about cleanliness, noise levels, or bathroom hogging.
Do you ever feel like some travelers come across a little fake or over the top? Share your examples and stories below.
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