I’m gonna confess something I’m a bit embarrassed about.
Other travellers intimidate me. I don’t know why, but I’ve long been filled with stomach knotting dread when I see that my bus/train/plane is filled with other backpackers heading the exact same way as me. Which is tricky when you are following a well trodden ‘banana pancake’ route through India and SE Asia. It’s the travel snobbery that scares me.
It goes back to my first, solo, trip away. I was 25, underprepared and not in the most confident place emotionally. I had fairly recently split up with my first love (icky cringe!) and was learning how to stand on my own two feet in London. I was also in a job that I HATED so first and foremost, travelling was everything people say it shouldn’t be — an escape.
Needless to say, I had an amazing time, spending 8 weeks in Thailand, 12 in Australia exploring, meeting new people, volunteering and working. But it was hard, I was constantly reminded that I was on my own, and that girls didn’t seem to warm to me (maybe it was my sullen, slightly agitated aura?) so……my fear of other travellers and their travel snobbery began.
This time round, I’m with Oli and in a much happier place (ahhhh double cringe) so why do I still have the crippling self doubt that leads to the dreaded sentence…..”I should”?
Some of the things “I Should” about are ridiculous, and often fuelled by my own insecurity as opposed to anyone elses travel snobbery. It did make me wonder if anyone else has these fears about travelling and travel snobbery and whether this holds them back from doing anything? Sharing is caring so here goes.
1) I Should only eat cheap, local food.
AKA — I like, and often eat western food.
Ok so for my second confession — I don’t like Thai food. I don’t know why, and it irks me daily, but I just can’t love it. Never have. I crave western food, and often indulge in 7-11 ham & cheese toasty sandwiches. The shame.
2) I Should stay in the cheapest place possible.
When travelling, you’ll regularly be asked — ‘Where are you staying?’ quickly followed by ‘How much did you pay?’ This is often followed by some judgement if you’ve payed more than said traveller deems appropriate
This is a tricky one, and one I genuinely care a bit less about than the other confessions. As far as I’m concerned, I have a budget — and I stick to it. If it means spending less on something else so that I can stay somewhere I want them so be it.
3) I Should go out till 3am to that bar/club/party.
I like a drink, as does Oli and we have occasionally had messy nights out (normally with our partners in crime, Ruth and Gav). Honestly though, I really like my sleep and hate being hungover. Especially when my comfort food isn’t likely to involve a bacon sandwich.
4) I Should never book accomodation in advance.
This feels like the worst confession yet, it’s so shameful and against the adventurous spirit of travellers that I could be struck off, passport revoked.
I like to get a good deal, and obviously spend a lot of time trying to find the holy grail — highly rated on trip advisor, and cheap — but I just don’t enjoy traipsing round every guesthouse in town in a quest to save £1.50. If I find somewhere in my budget that is clean, cheap with WiFi then I’m happy.
5) I Should spend more time in the real Thailand/Cambodia/Malaysia etc.
Being an adopted Londoner I love the trappings of city life and miss them when I’m away for a long time. I also LOVE the beach. The ‘I Should’ here is that it’s not a rural, off the beaten path slice of real local life. I like those places too, I just like the beach more.
6) I Should be doing an adrenaline fuelled activity wherever we go.
When you are surrounded by Aussies, this particular ‘I Should’ is much more prevalent!
I’m currently writing this from Koh Tao, and battling with the I Should go diving right now. I’m scared of the sea, but I’m getting over it — and honestly, I’m more scared of boats. When Oli came back from his dive to tell me that the trip out to the dive site was “like The Perfect Storm!”, it was game over for me.
I’ll stick with sunbathing & snorkelling for now.
7) I Should make friends with other people.
I should. And I do, sometimes. Oli and I travelled with Ruth and Gav for almost 2 months, and we loved it — but that’s pretty rare, and we were lucky to find another couple who had the same sense of humour, itinerary, budget etc as us.
Ruth & Gav
Occasionally we’ll meet people, and go for dinner with them or whatever and that’s fun. But after 5+ months of travel, Oli and I are both a bit bored of the same old small talk. You know the routine — Where are you from, where have you been, where are you going, what did you doback home etc etc
It’s pretty dull saying that twenty times a day, and I have become a lot more introverted. That being said, every so often we’ll meet someone who is so interesting, and different that I remember why you should be open to meeting new people.
8) I Should not care what I look like.
Often I don’t. I’ll freely admit that I rarely wear any make up, and thanks to the lack of mirrors in my life these days I don’t often worry about my appearance, but I’m only human and I have the same insecurities as any other girl.
The thing is, I consider myself a girls girl and when I pick an outfit to wear, it’s other girls who I seek approval from, not men. So I become overwhelmed with self doubt when a group of girls having fun park themselves next to me on the beach/cafe/bar and so begin the voices in my head………they are all skinnier than me, have nicer hair, better outfits blah blah blah.
One of my best style choices…..
The thing is, there are two conflicted travel snobbery-isms here — one is how good you look and two is how good you look. Confused? Ok, well a typical backpacker will often revel in how little they’ve washed, or how matted their hair is and how they NEVER wear make up. Whereas an ex pat may wonder what on earth you are doing in the nicest bar in town wearing denim shorts and a pair of battered flip flops.
Have you ever felt judgement in the traveller community? Do you have any ‘I Should?’ Is this a Lucy specific issue which I shouldn’t have shared on the internet?
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