Does this sound like you? You love to travel, and talking about your travel experiences gets you excited and makes you happy. So you do it…a lot. But you don’t want to be that person who always destination name drops or has to top your stories. You know the kind. So how do you express yourself and talk about what makes you happy without being a travel snob?
I realized I was acting like a travel snob a few months ago. My friend Kaci and I were camping on the Buffalo National River when we met a solo backpacker. We invited him to come over to our campsite for hot cocoa and s’mores. As we visited and swapped backpacking stories, I realized nearly every time I spoke I was telling a story about a different national park I visited.
“When I was backpacking in Michigan the bugs were awful!” was one thing I said. “I was so fortunate to get permits to camp at the bottom of the Grand Canyon!” was another thing I said. I chided myself to not be a travel snob. But I do have a lot of experience with traveling to national parks and other public lands.
So how do you not become a travel snob?
Well, first and most important is to listen and be interested in what other people are saying. I know how hard it is when others say something that makes you think of a great complimenting anecdote. But let them have their time to speak. And don’t just wait for your turn to speak. Focus on their stories.
You can add your anecdote, but don’t steer the conversation away from their stories. I have a friend who I never ask for advice. Because when I do, he listens to my problem and then says, “I understand. It’s like this problem I have.” And then the rest of the conversation is about his problem.
Ask them questions
A great way to keep from taking over the conversation is to ask them questions about themselves. Don’t say, “Oh! Did you go to Glacier National Park? I love Glacier! We did this and this and this.” Instead say, “Oh! You went to Glacier National Park? I went there. What was your favorite part?”
When you talk to other people, you get a different perspective and different ideas. Use this time and space as a learning experience. Even if it’s somewhere you’ve been and are not planning on returning to. You might get ideas for another trip.
Bragging is not helping
When I was talking with my newfound backpacker friend on the Buffalo River, I was truly trying to offer my expertise. But then I felt I was starting to come off as bragging, so I changed my message. There’s a difference in saying “I was so lucky to score backcountry permits at the Grand Canyon!” And saying “If you decided to go, remember backcountry permits are hard to come by. Here’s what I did to score mine.”
What if you are speaking with someone who doesn’t travel?
OK in this situation the other people either don’t care about your travels at all or they want to live vicariously through you. If the person doesn’t care about your travels, you need to find another common ground or move on. If there is no other common ground, you are probably not kindred spirits, and both of you are bored to death. If others want to live vicariously through you, then yes babble away! They want to hear it.
Another way to visit with people who aren’t into traveling is to ask them where they are from. You never know, you might find a new off-the-beaten-path kind of place.
Don’t be a travel snob
If you are like me, travel is your thing. And it’s OK to talk about it constantly. Just make sure who you are speaking with is on the same page. I loath small talk, unless it’s about hiking, camping, or traveling. If I get on those subjects, I can small talk for hours. I literally feel my face light up when the conversation goes that way. I just have to rein myself in sometimes because not everyone is like me.