Five Signs You’re A Travel Bore
Illustration by Ms Anje Jager
Been there, seen it, posted the picture on Instagram. But was it worth it?.
Human beings, we are often told, do not thrive in isolation. No man is an island; it is only by looking beyond the boundaries of our own experience that we can expect to reach our true potential. This is why we travel. By temporarily abandoning the comfort and familiarity of our homes and becoming immersed in a strange new environment, we hope to discover something not just about the wider world, but about ourselves, too.
That’s the general idea, anyway. It rarely works out like this. Travel may broaden the mind, but it cannot broaden what is not there. It takes an open, inquisitive nature to fully reap the psychological benefits of travel; you only need look at the mammoth queues snaking out of guidebook-endorsed restaurants to realise that this is a virtue few travellers possess.
Ask yourself this question: are you one of those awful people? Do you see travel as a checklist of places to visit before you die, rather than a way of improving yourself while you are alive? With the summer holiday season fast approaching, we thought it timely to address this issue by collecting the five most common symptoms of the obnoxious traveller. Read on, and be ashamed.
You Don’t “Visit” Countries. You “Do” Them
You’ve “done” 46 countries, at last count. You talk about “doing” countries, because that’s pretty much the way you see it: once you’ve visited them, they’re done. The last four were Namibia, Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe – which, thanks to the fact that they share a handy four-way border, you managed to knock off all in one day. Never mind that you didn’t meet any locals, or learn any of the countries’ histories or languages. There’s no time for that. You’ve still got 150 countries left to visit – sorry, “do” – before you die, and you’re already well behind schedule.
You Won’t Go Anywhere That Isn’t Top 10 On TripAdvisor
Stepping out of your comfort zone and into the great unknown is what travel is all about. Or it was, anyway, before TripAdvisor came along and took all of the uncertainty out of the process. Now, assuming that you stick to hotels and restaurants with a minimum of 100 reviews and an average rating of at least 4.5, your journey towards self-improvement need never again be blighted by the risk of disappointment. Sure, you might have to queue for two hours to get into the city’s “most authentic” restaurant. But what’s a two-hour wait for a committee-approved, satisfaction-guaranteed experience?
You Collect Passport Stamps (The More Obscure, The Better)
You trekked to Machu Picchu last year. Partly to contemplate the beauty of its Incan ruins and to reflect upon the fragility of human accomplishment and the impermanence of all things. But mainly because they give you this killer passport stamp. Check it out! It says “Machu Picchu” on it and everything. It’s for the same reason that you’ve booked a trip to Easter Island this summer. The thought of you next to those monolithic “moai” – the immutable, mysterious remnants of an ancient civilisation – is sure to turn your friends green with envy when they see your passport, which you’ve “accidentally” left open on your kitchen table. You’re still a little worried about next year, though. In the current political climate, just how exactly are you going to get hold of a visa for North Korea?
You Book Everything Months In Advance
As much as you enjoyed your recent architectural tour of Japan – Mr Tadao Ando’s Church of the Light in Ibaraki was every bit as moving as you had expected – it wasn’t quite as fun as the process of booking it all. Over a feverish 48-hour period last June, you excitedly arranged flights, connections, hotels... even half of your meals. By the time the departure date finally arrived, some nine months later, you’d grown so familiar with your itinerary that you found it difficult to muster any enthusiasm. If you’re being honest, it felt a teeny bit like going through the motions. At least you had next year’s trip – a coast-to-coast journey across the US by rail – to plan while you were away.
Your Instagram Looks Like It’s Sponsored By The Local Tourist Board
It doesn’t matter that there already exist several perfectly good photographs of Ayers Rock, the Hollywood sign, Big Ben or the Leaning Tower of Pisa, all freely accessible by way of a quick Google image search. It doesn’t matter that they were taken by professional photographers equipped with cameras that far exceed the capabilities of your iPhone. The fact remains that you’ve come all this way to gaze upon these world-famous landmarks with your own eyes, and if you don’t update your followers with regular (by which we mean hourly) photographic evidence, geotagged for authenticity, then it never happened. Indeed, the surest sign of a holiday well spent is an Instagram account that resembles in content, if not in quality, the postcard kiosk at the local airport.