The Genuine Article

SPEND any length of time on the road and you will, sadly, come across travel snobbishness.

The most pointless argument you will find anywhere is the endless “traveller v tourist” debate with a myriad of smaller topics those with ideas of “authenticity” use to run down those they feel have not done things the right way or have not paid your dues.

Yes, there is a big difference between short trips to one place or ticking off the must-sees on a rapid-fire journey to spending a lot of time on the road and getting away from the tourist trail.

But does one give anyone the right to sneer on people who have opted for the others? There’s a reason why places are on the tourist trail and not everyone can drop everything and travel for more than a few weeks each year, if that.

Essentially, you choose the best trip for you and it is nobody else’s trip but yours, whatever anyone else has to say about it.

And on group trips, don’t think you have to do what someone else is because it is the “right” thing to do in that destination. Do what you want, even if that is taking time out for yourself and charge the batteries for whatever comes next.

One of the worst cases of travel snobbishness came in a New Orleans hostel when a group of us gathered in the coolest room available on a sweltering afternoon and swapped tales from the road.

Whatever anyone came up with, a guy from somewhere in England – for some reason, he didn’t want to say – had to trump or run down.

Two of us had just finished three months on an overland group trip from London to New York and had met up again on her own individual road trips around the States, but that didn’t count to this guy.

Because somebody else had done some of the organising, our trip was not genuine travel. Hiring a car for my US road trip was not doing it the right way. And the Aussies – every hostel must have at least one – who had saved their money for a big trip had to play second fiddle to all the hours he had put in working in a supermarket before his trip.

His attitude amazed me. His way was the right way and nobody else was doing it properly. He had even avoided many of the supposed must-see attractions in the places he had been, places several of us were comparing notes on and agreed were well worth a trip.

He even turned his nose up at a night out in the French Quarter, opting to spend most of the weekend hanging round the hostel. Take my word, the Aussies had a much better time in New Orleans.

This whole subject was reawakened by an article on responsibletravel.com entitled 15 Bad Travel Habits To Give Up For Lent. Not sure they were trying to be snobs and it is hard to disagree entirely with all them, while we all have plenty of things which annoy us among travellers (especially at airports).

But again, it’s your trip. Respect the people and cultures you come across and choose the way you want to enjoy it.

 responsibletravel.com’s 15 Bad Travel Habits To Give Up For Lent

  • 1 Eating in international chain restaurants and cafes
  • 2 Avoiding street food
  • 3 Rushing around from one sight to the next
  • 4 Saying you’ve ‘done’ a country
  • 5 Not attempting a few words of the local language
  • 6 Getting annoyed because people don’t speak your language
  • 7 Staying plugged into your iPod, keeping your nose in your book
  • 8 Taking so many photos that you forget to look where you are
  • 9 Souvenir shopping at the airport rather than at local shops
  • 10 Wearing a bikini to the supermarket. Or anywhere that isn’t the beach
  • 11 The ‘traveller uniform’ of zip-off trousers, all terrain sandals and a fleece
  • 12 The early morning sun-lounger dash
  • 13 Visiting the local orphanage for the day
  • 14 Never leaving your holiday resort
  • 15 Thinking your way is right and local ways are wrong
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