28 Ways Travelers are All the Same
Being the first tourists ever to find ourselves hilarious, JD and I spend a good deal of our time in Siem Reap cracking each other up.
In retrospect (and now that the beers have worn off) I pause to appreciate how un-originial we are…all of us travelers.
Despite our gallant efforts to make ourselves unique by adding sparkly stamps to our passports, we ultimately remain more same than different.
We travelers are full of energy, full of ideals…and often full of nonsense. We’re masters of preaching pretentiously while secretly having no idea what we’re doing. Armed with the best of intentions, we consistently mess things up. We regularly fail our own expectations in the process of realizing that tour books don’t always tell the full story. In true Do-As-I-Say-Not-As-I-Do form, we create impressive disparities between our words and our actions.
Very sorry to burst your self-esteem bubble, Comrade. But fear not. There is a brotherhood in our sameness and a humor to our patterns. Embracing our normalcy opens up whole new ways to laugh at ourselves.
Here are just a few ways we fall short of our Path-Less-Traveled heroes.
- Try to prove we’re still up on politics to other travelers by quoting some out-of-place line from The Week (or sometimes, regrettably, The Onion).
- Claim we want to rough it, then moan when we have to use a long drop.
- Rave about how we love local food, then order spaghetti and burgers wherever we go.
- Strive to be “one of the local people” while staying in a 4-star hotel.
- Meticulously plan our itinerary, then miss our first bus.
- Say we don’t want any souvenirs, then buy 20 pairs of chopsticks.
- Learn to say “hello” and “thank you” in every language we encounter, then try to play it off like we’re fluent.
- ‘Help’ local communities by volunteering at the orphanage for 26 minutes (which we document with 300 hundred pictures of us smiling next to the kids).
- Strive to make just one local friend, then quickly change our Facebook profile picture to one of us laughing spontaneously together
- Talk endlessly about our travel budget, then blow it in the first day.
- Exempt ourselves from all tourist stereotypes.
- Wear unnecessarily baggy hippie pants, often with elephants printed on them.
- Inappropriately slip our latest travel destination into every conversation once we’re back home.
Should I paint my guest bedroom blue or beige?
I just went to China.
- Give directions to other travelers, then get lost on the way back to our own hotel.
- Claim to have REALLY researched the place we’re going, but give vague answers when asked about anything other than the currency exchange.
- Insist on buying one piece of authentic “local” clothing that inevitably makes us look like a tool abroad and at home
- Swear off doing the Touristy Thing, then pack 5 Lonely Planet books.
- Assure our parents we’re fully prepared, then forget we need a visa to enter.
- Say we CAN drink the tap water like the locals, then spend the night on the toilet.
- Plan to pack light, but wind up bringing a seven-pound medical aid kit with us.
- Tell everyone how excited we are to “get away from it all”, then check Facebook every five seconds.
- Say we love traveling alone, then latch onto the first friend we make in the hostel.
- Forget to mail our family their postcards.
- Carry around heavy notebooks in hopes of starting that travel journalism career, only to open it for the first time on the plane ride home.
- Invoke the Brotherhood of Travelers: say we are all in this together, then tell everyone what a slut Juanita from Chile is.
- Laugh about how out of date the music here is, then dance a little too enthusiastically to it.
- Insist on using chopsticks, rather than fork, and wind up with a pile of rice on our lap.
- Claim that anything embarrassing we might do is normal in _______[insert name of home country].
No need to be embarrassed, fellow travelers. Our faults may make us a little less Emerson, but also a little more Human. If Travel is all about meeting new people, then we should remember to be people, ourselves, not just inspiration for fridge magnets.
So get out there and celebrate being completely, totally…normal.