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The Insecure World of Travel One-upmanship

by Sh*t Happens - Lost Girl Travel about a month ago in humanity
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What’s the difference between a traveler and a tourist anyway?

Image by Alexas_Fotos from Pixabay

All too often on my travels, I’ve been with a group of backpackers to a crowded place and they will turn up their noses in disdain and lament

“Urgh there’s so many tourists here!”.

As if they aren’t one of them. It’s like complaining about all the cars in traffic when you yourself are a car in traffic. I’ll giggle and point this out. Big mistake. How dare I?


The word tourist is spat out like dirty, old Tabaco on the floor. Since when did tourist become a dirty word? Why do people feel the need to separate themselves? To hop up onto an imaginary pedestal? Are tourists really so beneath them? And what’s so terrible about going on holiday for a week or two to relax?

Welcome to the insecure world of travel one-upmanship.

Sure, we’ve all visited the same temples, hiked the same mountains, ate at the same restaurants, and swam in the same oceans but somehow because you are privileged enough to travel for months rather than weeks, your experience is somehow more valid and more real?

I call bullshit on that one folks. And that’s only the beginning.

Image by SplitShire from Pixabay

OK, next up, you're deemed a traveler, but mention your guidebook or a tour you've booked at your peril. Now you're just a traveler but not a "real" traveler. Because doing any sort of research or following any advice or guidance deems your experience inauthentic, basic, and cookie-cutter.

Apparently, the only way to really travel is to show up, walk around and see what happens. Wander, get a feel for the place, talk to locals but, don't you dare look at that lonely planet in the hostel you basic bitch.

(I may take a little childish pleasure when this person then shows up at the palace on the one day it's closed or completely misses a market day. Maybe should have looked it up first eh?)

Finally, the most common and the most insecure of all.

Whatever you did, I did it better.

I remember sitting on the floor in an Arabic restaurant in Kathmandu with three travellers I'd just met. It was my first ever trip and I was excited to chat about other people's experiences over baba gaoush. Instead, I sat and watched agape at the most ridiculous tennis match of travel one-upmanship I have ever witnessed.

One had been to x country, so had the other, and asked

"well have you been to x obscure place that I've been to?"


"Well then you haven't really been there."

I was in shock. What a thing to say! And it only got worse from there. Wherever someone had been, someone else had been but done it better, had a more authentic experience, stayed longer, made best friends with the locals; anything and everything to prove themselves the winner of the best backpacker award.

This was not an isolated incident, I've come across too many of these swinging dick battles. They're almost comical to me now.

So, if you come across one of these types of travel snobbery, I just want to tell you not to take it to heart. That's nothing to do with you and everything to do with the ego of others.

Travel is not a contest. It's a very personal experience and there's no right or wrong way to do it. There's only what is right and wrong for you. Or even just what's right or wrong for you in this precise chapter of your life.

So whether you have a week off or a yearlong sabbatical. If you stay on the beaten track or wander far away from it. You stay in a homestay or a fancy hotel. If you like to go on a tour or travel independently. Don't let anybody make you feel bad for choosing to travel your own way. It's your trip and nobody else's.

Tourists and travelers alike, we're all just people trying to experience a little more of this beautiful world we live in. Let's just focus on just how incredible that is and how lucky we are to do it full stop.

Thank you for reading! Hearts and tips are always welcome and your support is very much appreciated.

This story was originally published on Medium

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About the author

Sh*t Happens - Lost Girl Travel

Hi! I’m Georgie and I share travel stories of when sh*t happens. I think that sometimes the worst things that happen to you traveling, are often the funniest

Follow me on Instagram! https://www.instagram.com/sh.t_happens_lost_girl_travel/

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Comments (2)

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  • Sam Eliza Greenabout a month ago

    "Travel is not a contest. It's a very personal experience and there's no right or wrong way to do it." Yes! I agree with so much of this. There is nothing wrong with doing research about where you are going so that you can plan ahead of time for what you want to see and do. The most exciting parts of traveling can also be the things that happen without planning, but I don't think there is a regiment, a right or wrong way to do it. I always ask myself after a trip, "Did you enjoy yourself?" If the answer is "yes", then that was a good travel experience in my book.

  • Excellent article and love the differentiation.

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