If you’ve come back from your travels excited and ready to share them with others, you’ve probably run into the problem of telling friends and family about your adventures without sounding like an a**hole. My boyfriend, Daniel, wrote a great article about this the other day and how talking about travels can sometimes sound like bragging—and how much of that is rubbing privilege in others’ faces.
I completely agree that it is a fine balance. No one likes to hear someone go on and on about his or her yoga retreat up in the Andes mountains where he or she met a local shaman who told him or her that he or she was destined to seek the truth in…blah blah blah. Travel can be such a personal experience that it’s likely that the only person who will really find it worthwhile is you.
I’ve had this happen several times. The biggest shock for me was returning home, thrilled to tell my friends and family about every moment of living in Venice. I figured it had been such a life-changing event in my life that everyone would want to hear about it. I had so many stories up my sleeve and I was just waiting to bring out at the right moment—only to find that no one cared. Eyes would glaze over any time I mentioned my time abroad and what I had discovered. It wasn’t that they didn’t care about me, it was just that it meant nothing to them.
No one likes a travel jerk. I’ve also been in the opposite position where I’ve had someone begin a sentence with, “When I was in (insert exotic location here)…” and I found myself zoning. As much as I love traveling and hearing about others’ adventures, there is absolutely a tactful way to go about sharing travel stories and privilege plays a factor into this.
Unless someone brings it up, I try not to talk too much about the places I’ve visited. Again, exploring the world is such a personal thing. There is so much going on internally, that sharing the impact a certain location or culture made on you is almost impossible. This is why I have a hard time with the idea of bucket lists and collecting countries because you come across sounding pretentious and as though you believe you are more cultured than others. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, travel is not an accomplishment. It’s a great freedom that not everyone has.
So how do you avoid sounding like a travel jerk? It’s likely that your friends and family have already seen your travel pictures on Facebook, so unless it’s mentioned, it might be smarter not to bring it up. And when it is, you shouldn’t spend hours talking about your ziplining adventure in Guatemala.
My grandmother has some great advice about connecting with other people. In order to really form a relationship with others, you need to ask them about themselves. I’ve found myself more interested in what my friends back home have been doing (which is equally exciting and special). As a digital nomad, my life includes travel or thinking about it on a daily basis. Honestly, it’s nice to think about something else every now and then.
We’ve all been guilty of being a travel jerk. It’s hard not to be, it’s your life, after all. The point is to try and be less of one if you can. Remembering how few people have the opportunity to travel can encourage you to rethink spilling your latest adventure over coffee or family dinner. Overall, it’s about being considerate of others—we try to do it abroad, and we should try to do it when we return home, as well.
Have you been guilty of being a travel jerk? Know anyone who is? How do you keep yourself from bragging about your travels?