No More Travel Jerks: Stop Bragging About Your Travels

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?

Keep wandering,

Alex Signature Wander


17 thoughts on “No More Travel Jerks: Stop Bragging About Your Travels

  1. “Jerk” is in the eye of beholder; and if you look into the mirror and see one, well, there you are 😉 I agree most of all with your grandma . . . ask questions of others . . . in their own lives they too are (in many cases) living their own Dream.

    1. Agreed. Everyone needs to do his or her own thing. I love how my friends have a very different lifestyle than I do. As long as they’re happy then we all need to recognize that we have our own journey.

    1. I do too! I guess it depends on how we come across to others. Most of my dear friends are incredibly supportive of my travels and want to hear about them. Some, not so much. Either way, I’ll only talk about it if they want to hear about it. Thanks for the comment!

  2. For sure. I’ve definitely been that travel jerk. These days if I find myself talking about my travels, I try my best to ask the person I’m talking to about THEIR experiences immediately after so they get a chance to share and I get a chance to listen.

    1. It’s hard not to! Especially when it is your life and that’s the only way you can relate. I think being aware is the most important thing. Thanks for your comment. 🙂

  3. Completely agree! I love listening to other people’s travel tales, and with my anxiety problems, it can be a great motivator to go out there and do something similar, but I’ve known a couple of people whose stories cross the line into bragging, and that can be demotivating, completely. There is a (small, I think) section of travellers who seem to want travelling to be an exclusive club, and use bragging in a “your experiences will never be as fulfilling as mine; you shouldn’t bother to try” kind of way. Travel is wonderful, we should all be encouraged by the stories – which is another reason that I love your blog! 😊 x

    1. Thanks so much! I’m glad that this blog is encouraging–that’s exactly what I want it to be. And you’re so right. Traveling doesn’t grant you access to an exclusive club. If anything, it should make you more open to understanding others. Happy travels! ❤

  4. People are like that, bragging about this that and the other.. If it’s not bragging about holidays it’s how good they are in bed or how much vodka they drank on the weekend.. No end to it Lol…

  5. This is great. I think a lot of it has to do with how self-centred we can be (not a fault, it’s natural) and how people feel snuffed when they get unwanted advice. But it’s especially hard when you’re invested into hearing about other people’s travels, but people don’t reciprocate when you tell your stories. My thing is to tell my parents and my grandmother everything (they are actually interested) and only tell other friends and family if they ask. Great post.

    1. Parents are great that way! And you’re totally right–we’re all selfish by nature. The hard part is learning to overcome it. Thanks for your comment. 🙂

  6. I very much agree with this post, and especially on your comments about travel and privilege. A lot of folks at home can’t travel, for whatever reason. As a person with many intersecting privileges that allow me to travel, I have to be cognizant of how I interact with people so as not to alienate them or make them feel like I’m rubbing my privileges in their face. This especially goes for travel writing. As a fellow travel blogger, how do you feel that this mentality extends throughout your writing on travel as well?

    1. Hey there! Thanks for your comment. And I completely agree that we have a responsibility as travel writers to talk about our privileges. We should be honest with our readers and talk about the issues that they might not know about unless they had the opportunity to travel themselves. It’s not all glamorous. In fact, some of travel for me is a constant reminder of my place in the world and how fortunate I’ve been to explore it.

      Love your blog, by the way. Glad to know there are other bloggers out there that feel the same way.

  7. I love this! I know that being able to travel is a privilege. Along that same vein, I never tell people that anyone can travel. I know that for some people, it’s just a lot harder. Basically at the end of the day, I don’t travel to brag. I travel to learn. So if someone asks, I will gladly tell. But your grandma is right about asking people about themselves.

    1. I love what you have to say. Traveling to learn is the main reason to do it–so thank you for pinpointing that. Sometimes it’s easy to get lost in everything else that comes with traveling, but you’ve narrowed it down perfectly. It’s an opportunity for education.

      Thanks for your comment. Love your blog!

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