If there’s one thing that Fox News and The New York Times agree on, it’s that bragging about travel has become a serious problem among travelers. While this criticism might unfairly target millennials, it’s not far off. While we are the first generation to have the opportunity to move abroad on a budget (often while taking our work with us), that doesn’t mean we should be talking about going to countries as though they are something to collect.
The idea of bragging about travel actually recalls a situation with my girlfriend (who travel blogs regularly about the ethics of travel) and an acquaintance. Engaged in a one-sided conversation, the acquaintance remarked to Alex that he felt that the two of them were the most sophisticated people in the room because they are the only ones who have traveled extensively. Alex later told me about this — and it just made me laugh. Obviously he wasn’t aware that generally wherever Alex travels I travel too .It also seemed that he wanted to gloat about where he’d been without expressing an actual opinion about what he did and saw in the places he traveled to.
Prior to starting to write about travel, I haven’t really talked about my travels that much. Partially that’s because I didn’t want to come off as someone who was bragging about travel. Unlike some people who talk about travel, I don’t feel need to list off every country I’ve ever been to. It doesn’t make me a big man or a better person. But what it has done is inform my sense of self and has helped me grow in ways I didn’t know were possible. But that doesn’t mean it needs to be a part of every conversation I have.
Believe it or not, there are ways to have a conversation about travel without being a dick. The best way to actually do this is to start to develop opinions about your travels. Of course, opinions can’t be developed in a vacuum. You need to be able to quantify your experience in some way. In many conversations I’ve had with people about travel it’s almost impossible to tell if they’ve actually enjoyed their travels or not. It’s almost as if going is the only thing that counts, not the actual experience.
Another important thing to understand about travel is that there are many different ways to do it. And that’s not to say that one way is more legitimate than another. In the span of three months, we’ll be leaving our temporary home in Granada, Spain and trading it in for the comparatively luxury accommodations of a work-travel program in Southeast Asia. Both experiences appeal to different types of people who want to different kinds of conversation around travel.
As long as those conversations don’t devolve into bragging about travel then they are equally legitimate. There’s no better way to experience a new location while traveling. But there is a better way to talk about travel — and it should start by not namedropping the countries you’ve been to or bragging about travel experiences without offering insight.