Seriously, next time I hear one of these, I think I’ll scream!!
I guess everyone who travels is confronted to it regularly: people who have a different idea about traveling / going on vacation and ask plenty of questions about your way of doing it and the importance traveling has in your life. I love these conversations! When there’s mutual respect for each other’s choices, when people genuinely want to hear me talk about my passion and are interested in discovering something they’ve never done themselves. I love listening to those people when they tell me about the things they love as well. It doesn’t matter if it’s a subject I’m personally interested in or not, as long as they’re passionate about it, I like to listen.
But it doesn’t always go like that. More than once I’ve been confronted to people that don’t just ask questions. They don’t just want to know about my passion and discover something new in a let’s-all-be-ourselves-and-accept-our-differences kind of way. They want to judge and criticize.
Another group are the oooooh-I’m-so-jealous-of-you type of people. They’re always asking about your travels, constantly saying how they’ve wanted to do the same thing ‘ALL THEIR LIVES’, only to come up with an excuse why they don’t ten seconds later.
Here’s my list of questions and comments about traveling I don’t want to hear anymore… And you know what, I’ll even answer them, but it’s the last time, OK?d
1. Oooh you’ve been to Cuba?!? I’ve been dreaming of going there all my life!!!
This one obviously works with any other country as well. My spontaneous answer usually is:
“Well then… go!“
Which usually leads to points 2 or 3 (or a combination of both).
2. I couldn’t afford to travel like you do!
So I ask them: “If I can, then why couldn’t you?”
I usually get an answer about the planning part of the trip (I’ll talk about that in point 3) or an answer about money, something like this:
Other person: “You must make more money than I do.”
Me: “What’s that shiny thing you’re holding in your hand there? Ooooh the latest iPhone… I love how it matches your expensive designer shoes!”
Of course everybody that asks me this question doesn’t wear designer shoes, but what I’m saying is that it’s all about making choices. Yes I have a good salary right now but I also traveled when I earned € 1400 a month and had to pay € 700 on rent, electricity, water and gas. That left me with only € 700 to live with and I still managed to put aside € 1800 in 1 year for a trip to Cuba. Did I buy expensive clothes or eat out twice a week? No, I didn’t… (in fact I still don’t, I’d still rather put my money aside for my travels!)
3. Planning the whole trip myself?!? Oh no, I wouldn’t be able to do that!!
There’s 2 versions of this one:
“You say traveling isn’t that expensive but that’s only because you arrange everything yourself…
… but I wouldn’t be able to do that, so I’d have to book with a tour operator, which will make it more expensive!”
… but I don’t have time to do that, so I’d have to book with a tour operator, which will make it more expensive! “
My honest opinion? If you can write, read, count and hold a map, then you can plan a trip. If you don’t HAVE time, you MAKE time. If you can’t even make time for something you say you’ve been dreaming about all your life, then maybe you don’t want it as bad as you say you do! If you’re not even interested enough in that dream country of yours to read a travel guide about it, then don’t be surprised when you find yourself in that same all-in hotel with the same people, food and horrible animation for the 9th year in a row!
(I have absolutely NOTHING against people who go to the same all-in hotel every year, as long as they’re happy about it!)
4. Aren’t you scared? What if you get lost? Or something bad happens? Imagine you have an accident, or someone steals your money? And you don’t even speak the language!!!
Why would I be scared? Why would I get lost? Actually, why would I mind getting lost in the first place? It’s the best way to really get to know a country! Have you never heard of a thing called a map? And even if I did get really lost, it’s not like I could fall of the earth and would never be found again, is it? I’m not going to a deserted island and I’m not going to walk into the jungle all by myself either – I’m adventurous, not stupid! – so there’ll probably be somebody to help me. I speak 4 languages and I’m not ashamed of making weird gestures to explain myself. “Turn right at the 4th crossroads” is not THAT difficult to explain using your hands, you know?!?
Why would it be more likely that something bad happens when I’m abroad than when I’m at home? Accidents happen everywhere. I’ve lived in Brussels for over a year and nobody was worried. Have you ever checked any foreign embassy’s website for safety information about Brussels? They probably judge it’s more dangerous than most of the places I visit during my trips.
I don’t wear big golden chains around my neck while I travel (nor when I’m at home for that matter, in case you’d be worried) and I’m not going to stand in the middle of the street waiving my wallet and passport around in the air either. So again, why would I be more likely to be robbed away from home?
5. What do your parents say about it? Wouldn’t they prefer if you stayed at home safely?
Do you honestly think my parents would be more happy to know I’m not doing the things I love just because of them???
My parents raised me to be a strong and independent person. They didn’t teach me to walk in line or follow standards just because other people think it has to be like that. They taught me to be able to take care of myself, live my life the way I want it and to be happy.
They don’t expect me to ask them what they think of my choices and they’ve NEVER EVER asked me thinks like “wouldn’t it be time you’d…”. They’re happy when I am.
(This doesn’t mean I don’t ask for their advice when I have a difficult choice to make, I do and they give me their honest opinion – the one they think would make ME most happy – but that’s not what we’re talking about here.)
6. Wouldn’t it be time to grow up, get married and start having children? You know, have a REAL life?
I find this one of the worst! Especially because it usually comes from people that hardly know me but still seem to think it’s appropriate to ask these kind of questions.
A real life according to who? It’s not because it doesn’t correspond to your way of seeing things that it isn’t real. I’ll decide if I want to get married and have children. My life, my choice, not your business!
7. There’s so many beautiful things to see close to home, I really don’t understand why you have to go that far!
First of all: I don’t need people to understand. Secondly, of course there’s many beautiful things to see close to home. But traveling isn’t only about seeing things. It’s about EXPERIENCING them. New things, different things, unknown things.
I’m sure the south of France is lovely but I doubt I’ll be able to assist to a Buddhist mass or dance salsa all night with the locals over there. I doubt I’ll have to bribe a police officer to avoid getting arrested for a fake traffic violation. I doubt I’ll see alligators and monkeys in the wild or that I’ll witness the results of the Vietnam war with my own eyes. I doubt I’ll meet people who don’t even know where Europe is or others that are so stuck in communism, the simple fact of asking them “why” is something they’re completely unable to handle. I doubt I’ll see people proudly driving around with a “war veteran” sticker on their wheelchair and complete strangers walking up to them to thank them for their sacrifice.
That’s what traveling is about. That’s why I go so far. That’s why close to home isn’t and will never be enough.
How about you? What’s the comment about traveling that drives you nuts? Tell me all about it in the comments, and we’ll scream aaaaaaaaaaaah together!