When I was in…. Your GTG’s guide to bragging rights
Hi again globetrotters and with any luck this week finds you fully absorbed in the finer parts of your Spring or Autumn (that’s fall for all you folk in the US and Canada). We all know what an experience travel is and we all know how big a part it can pay in our lives but one thing most of us struggle with is knowing when enough is enough. You know who I mean, that girl in the floral dress at the bar with her tattoo from Thailand who first asks you about your trip then all you hear for the rest of the night are her anecdotes of her full moon party trip or that guy in the Kathmandu jacket that just has to tell you about ‘that one time, at base camp’. That kind. This week we try to narrow down the fine line between being enthusiastic and going overboard.
Stories are great, people want to hear them in fact but a few simple questions to ourselves can help save our collective dignity and a huge amount of wasted time (since the person we are talking to at that point has quite rightly tuned out by about halfway up the volcano anyway).
- Did anyone ask for this kind of story?
- Is anyone else sharing their travel stories or any stories at all?
- Did everyone suddenly disappear to ‘get a drink’ or ‘use the bathroom’ ?
- When was the last time I remember anyone else speaking?
- Does anyone know the people in my story or the place i’m talking about?
- Where am I now in context of this story?
You see where I’m going with this. It’s easy to get carried away but wherever we can, we will be far more likely to be asked to share more stories in the future if we remember the golden rule, less is more.
Another area where it’s totally kosher to be the envy of people over the amazing things you have seen and done within reasonable limits. The best tip of the hat to top-notch etiquette here is to edit your albums first. Your GTG is as guilty as any of the odd ‘finger-over-the-lense’ snapshot but another few simple questions here can make all the difference.
- Is it what others want to see or what I want to see?
- Did I put up 10 photos of the same thing on facebook?
- Did I put 10 photos of the same thing at different angles?
- Does my face take up the majority of the pictures to the point where no one could tell where I was anyway?
There’s always that one person who ‘wants to save you the trouble’ of going to somewhere they didn’t have the most amazing time based on circumstantial evidence. This is the kind of advice that is always better to take with a grain of salt, and a pinch of second opinion. Your GTG is making an open plea for you all not to be ‘that guy’ (or gal). Guide books do what they do well and with a bit of luck base their information on more than a single experience or a one-time visit. The main point here is that sure we can be unlucky at times but that doesn’t have to be an indication of what will happen to someone else. On the other hand you run the risk of dampening someone else’s trip or putting them off having one all together. Also important to remember is that each person will see value in different elements of a place and what might not have been your cup of tea may easily be someone else’s.
Your re-telling of local encounters
Oh how the stories vary. This can be one of the most tell-tale parts of how we relay a travel experience. Given that we will all have been on different budgets and had different styles of trips in mind, we will all have met local people in various contexts. The people you meet could be anyone from the volunteer tour guide working for tips in Amsterdam to the professional driver/tour guide who hosted you all around the golden triangle on the border of Thailand, Myanmar and Laos, to anyone outside the travel industry all together. One terrible tendency of seasoned globetrotters is to give the impression that our own encounters with local people were far more ‘authentic’ than the person we may be speaking to. The problem here is the inherent arbitration and element of unnecessary competition involved. While there can be no doubt that travel experience is used as a social commodity (a certain blog comes to mind), there is no clause stating that this can not be a commodity of a shared kind.
Coalition of the uniformed
Here your GTG is referring to cases of religious or cultural insensitivity in particular but the main factor is comments that show the other people around that you pretty much didn’t consider them when you made that last comment. We’ve discussed comments of empty substance like “the people were nice” in previous weeks, here your GTG is more concerned with comments like “all the guys on my stopover in Dubai looked like they were wearing nighties” or “it was so stupid I wasn’t allowed to wear my singlet top into that temple in Bangkok” (your GTG has heard things very similar to these remarks, really…). Another easy slip up of this nature is to complain about no-one speaking English to you while you were away when the person you’re speaking to may speak English as a second language themselves.
We could of course go on forever about things we’ve all heard that just really didn’t go down well with us.When it comes down to it, a bit of general manners and common sense will go a long way to to being perceived in the way you want to and as the experienced traveller that you are. Until next week.