I was overlooking my interview with Rolf Potts recently and thinking our discuss the false distinctions travelers make among themselves. We often compete to prove who’s an improved traveler or how exactly we aren’t like “the tourists.”
As you travel the world and bounce from hostel to hostel, you’ll inevitably encounter some travelers trying to prove their status and superiority by discussing just how much longer they’ve been on the highway or where they’ve been, or by emphasizing the amount of local buses they took. They treat travel like some kind of competition as though bragging rights will be the most important part to be on the highway.
After ten years of travel, I’ve met a lot more than my fair share of the kinds of travelers. I’ll let you know what I usually end up telling them: all travelers are manufactured equal.
While I’d rather take advice from anyone who has been traveling for a decade over somebody who left just yesterday, the older traveler (and Rolf may possibly agree) is no “better” a traveler compared to the younger traveler. Our experiences and opinions are valuable. You aren’t a better traveler due to the fact:
1. You’ve been traveling for over X years!
X years is quite a while to visit, and you’ve without doubt had some awesome experiences. But this isn’t a competition. You aren’t likely to get yourself a prize because you’ve stayed on the highway longer than another person.
When people ask me how long I’ve been on the highway, I rarely answer this question in hostels, because I hate the “Wow! That’s awesome!” response — where then someone chimes in and goes “Ok last one, I’ve been on the highway for X years.” There’s always anyone who has been going longer than you. Dan and Audrey from Uncornered Market put my decade of happen to be shame — so execute a million other people I’ve met on the highway.
The distance of your travels will not mean anything and you ought to never make someone feel harmful to being truly a beginner. Travel is a privilege, rather than everyone gets the luxury of hitting the street for such a long time.
By the end of the day, we all have been beginners at one point — and there’s always anyone who has been out there longer than us.
2. You’ve gone to over X countries
Travel isn’t about quantity; it’s about quality. In my own first 3 years backpacking the world, I had only gone to about twenty-five roughly countries. There are plenty of people who have gone to far more in much less time. But traveling more slowly (that’s, spending additional time in each place) is, for me personally, a far greater way to understand about the places I visit.
Travel isn’t a contest. It’s not really a race. Spending a day in a country merely to say you’ve “been there” is selfish and dumb. I understand terrible travelers who’ve been to all or any the countries on the planet and know amazing travelers who’ve only gone to a couple. It’s the sort of person you aren’t the amount of countries you’ve gone to.
3. You don’t go there — it’s too touristy
There’s grounds why people head to Bali or Paris, hike the Inca Trail, or check out NEVADA — these places are fun, or beautiful. They might be commercial, overpriced, and filled with “tourists,” however they remain exciting places to go visit.
The amount of small villages you have under your belt isn’t proportional to how great of a traveler you are. Sure, I believe people should log off the tourist trail normally as possible. Explore the unexplored. Wander into neighborhoods to start to see the rhythm of local life. Look for a map, select a random place, and go there. A few of my best travel memories are when I visited lesser-known cities.
But I likewise have great memories from popular places just like the Gold Coast, Amsterdam, Khao San Road, and Barcelona.
Room is too touristy. Locals live everywhere plus they often don’t connect to tourists….because they reside in local neighborhoods. I barely see tourists in my own area of NYC or Paris. Why? Because I don’t reside in ground zero tourist area!
A destination is as touristy when you are.
Don’t make an effort to be cool.
Don’t judge a traveler simply by the places each goes or the sort of travel they embrace. We’re all out here trying to take pleasure from ourselves. To each their own.
4. You merely do what the locals do
You can eat at all of the local restaurants you want and take as much local buses since you can, but that doesn’t mean you understand the local life-style. If you actually want to live such as a local, buy a flat and get yourself a job.
Don’t spend three days in a location, spend 90 days — or 3 years.
Then, and only then, is it possible to begin to consider yourself an area.
By your very being there, you’re not doing what locals do. Locals don’t sightsee and eat fancy meals. They grab the youngsters from school, head to work, run errands, and make an effort to relax.
As the world may be filled up with different cultures and foods, the more you travel, the more you understand people are fundamentally the same. It doesn’t matter in the event that you reside in Egypt, Mongolia, America, or France — everyone gets up, would go to work, really wants to be happy and live well, and hopes their children have an improved life.
5. You don’t do tours
Talking trash about tour group travelers doesn’t cause you to much better than them; it just enables you to a jerk. Individuals who say this often forget that the boat ride they took in Phuket or that visit to Fraser Island in Australia was also a tour. Not absolutely all tours are big double-decker buses filled up with sandal-wearing tourists. They are often little backpacker tours too.
Most tours aren’t inherently bad. I’ve taken several and enjoy them. Everything depends upon the group and the business you go with.
Travel is an extremely personal experience. Everyone takes their own path all over the world. No two journeys are alike and for that reason no two journeys could be compared. Travel is approximately opening your brain up to new experiences and folks. Your competition mindset simply closes you off compared to that.
If you’re a “real” traveler, you understand that travelers are equal and these false mindsets don’t matter. Understand that there’s always someone out there who has gone to more places, seen more things, and spent additional time on the highway than you.
And if someone is judging your travels or trying to place you down, they aren’t worth the energy. Such as a destination which you have grown sick and tired of, simply move on — and discover people worthy of your time and effort and who’ll lift you up, not put you down.
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