Why Travelling Doesn’t Make You A Better Person

Mark Twain thought travel was fatal to prejudice and bigotry. But he's wrong. Sometimes it can make you an even worse person...

Image Credit: Getty Images

Much like a 2021 creative might be horrified to find their ‘unique struggles’ have been trotted out for years by Hollywood, the stereotypical Western traveller would probably die with embarrassment if they twigged their obsession with ‘self-awareness’ was actually quite annoying. Go figure! And I say this both as a proud book-reading w*nker, and a proud travel-proselytising traveller.

But in between romanticising the lifestyles of people who have never been afforded the chance to travel in their lives (“they’ve got nothing, but they’re always smiling!”) and shaming their friends back home for catching feelings not flights, many travel bloggers actually create some great content on social media.

Enter: the following few clips, sourced from Instagram and TikTok. The videos sum up quite well some of the thoughts many travellers slip into when we start getting a little too full of ourselves on the road. And boy, do some hit home.

In response to the phrase: “People who choose to live their life in the country they were born in and not try somewhere else,” various travel bloggers have lip synch sung the words: “I don’t relate to you.”

If you haven’t smugly thought that to yourself, at least once, are you even a traveller?

Woman reading on holiday. Image Credit: Getty Images

Another included, “People who are saving to buy a house instead of spending all their money on travelling and seeing the world when they’re young.”

Again: the cheeky lip-synch answer is: “I don’t relate to you.” Classic.

A third video DMARGE found included a TikTok travel enthusiast miming the words: “Don’t talk to me” in response to various phrases littering the screen like: “I hate flying.”

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Even John Cleese has (separately) got in on the act, tweeting recently about how much travel opens your mind.

Much as some of this is a little over the top (perhaps intentionally so), there is some truth in there (stereotypes, no matter how ~cringe~ and overwrought, do often get built on a grain of truth or some observation that resonates with people). And yes: travelling can make you more open-minded. So perhaps it’s good to remind people of that.

Woman reading. Image Credit: Getty Images

But we’ll let you decide for yourself if people who travel are judging correctly (or hypocritically) their brethren back home with these thoughts (watch the video below and make up your mind).

How Travellers Feel About People Who Never Travel

My hot take? Travelling can make you a better person. But only if you shut up about it (and let your actions speak more than your words). Also, with regards to the above videos – I cast no aspersions on what those creators think about their hometown friends (or the people they met on their travels) other than everything I just projected onto them from my own experiences and arrogant thoughts (I, too, have been guilty of singing from the rooftops about the benefits of travel…).

It’s also worth pointing out, before people start hurling their DSLR cameras and Macbook Pros at me, that there is an Emirates A380 load (perhaps many more) of humble travellers out there who are on a mission to genuinely inspire, educate and learn, and who realise how lucky they are.

It’s also natural to get a kick out of feeling like you are part of some sort of in-the-know club, when you do get into travelling – after all, there’s a reason Mark Twain’s travel quotes keep twanging around.

So yes: your mind can be opened by travel. It’s just good to remember getting on a plane isn’t the only thing that can open it.

It’s also true that giving people a bit of a jolt is an effective way to get them to rethink something – so maybe the shock value of saying “don’t talk to me” as a bit of a joke to your friends who don’t travel isn’t such an offensive thing to do after all. It’s also worth pointing out that the creators in the above videos were probably just having a bit of light-hearted fun.

Man hiking. Image Credit: Getty Images

An article by Travelette sums up the good vs. bad complex of travel bloggers well: “After years of hype, bloggers have been met with a lot of scepticism lately. While one magazine declares fashion bloggers the lamest people on Earth (the author had apparently never read a single critically engaging post on a fashion blog before), another one says a that travel bloggers are materialistic brats (who will threaten hotels with bad reviews if they don’t get the most luxurious suite).”

“I’m here to tell you – and I hope that you know that already – neither of these accusations are correct. Yes, the number of blogs is exploding, and there are ‘good’ and ‘bad’ ones; but there will always be a handful of people (or ten or thousand) who have more in mind than a new pair of shoes or what’s for breakfast in this or that luxury hotel,” (Travelette).

There you have it.

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