The Pretentious Traveler: How to Spot One & How to Avoid Being One


It looks like something like this: You are sitting at an indie coffee shop in a whirlwind of aspiring artists, wannabe hipsters, political activists, sprinkled with a few university students who talk among themselves about things that matter and things that don’t.

You unassumingly sip your coffee in the corner and skim the conversations of those around you. You hear everything from politics to hyperbolas, and then, like an obnoxious laser beam that cuts like a glass from across the room, someone starts talking, “ Oh you think this cafe has good biscotti? You should try the biscotti in Italy, oh it’s so delicious,” blah, blah, blah.

Nothing aggravates me quite like a pretentious traveler. Below are a few ways to spot one, and a few ways to avoid being one.

1) Save the gloat for someone who cares. 

It’s fun to talk about your trip, especially if you went at it alone and need someone to share it with. Like that quote by Jon Krakauer from his book Into the Wild, “Happiness is only real when shared.” And he is right, but it should be more like, “Happiness is only real when shared with an interested audience.”  If you find yourself gloating about your trip and receiving reactions like “Wow, so cool,” or “Sounds Fun,” just stop right there and ask how someone in the group how they are doing.

2) Don’t start dissing your home country unless you have plans to flee the country permanently.

Many people don’t have the opportunity to travel or the means and don’t want to hear about how much you hate your country, because guess what?-they still live here and whether they love it or not, it probably doesn’t sit well with them listening to you complain about it.  I will admit, I am not an angel in this arena, I have problems with the U.S but I also try to balance what I disagree about my country with things I love about it.

3) Don’t start a sentence with, “I have been to ________ and it’s not like that.” 

When a country comes up in conversation that you have traveled to let your friend(s) talk about what they think about it first. If you find that their ideas about a certain region are misinformed, then politely interject and express your opinion in a softer, less know-it-all tone. Afterwards, open it back up for discussion. This will help you come off as informed not like an arrogant traveler.

4)Don’t play the “Who’s traveled to more Places” game.

It’s not a battle of who has traveled or experienced more. It’s about sharing and caring( cliche, but true). Listen to each other’s unique Journeys, and don’t just wait for the other person to finish their story so you can chime in about yours.

5) Stop with the Selfie’s. 

I love documenting my trips. It’s one of my favorite parts of traveling. But taking selfies and snapshots of nights where you were belligerently drunk at some crazy hostel bar everyday…mmmm…too much. Try capturing more of the scenery and the culture that you are embarking upon. It’s fun to throw in a few selfie’s here and there, but try to take the focus off yourself. We all know you are special, try to show what’s unique about the country you are visiting.


Diagnosis: Pretentious traveler, Prescription: The above doctrine. Now go travel the world and tell us about it in a humble traveler way.

Have you met people like this on your travels?


About Author

Since a young age Jenna has always had an undeviating desire to explore the world and all its hidden niches. This desire has catapulted her willingly into some of the most memorable experiences of her life! Starting with delivering shoes to underserved villages in the Dominican Republic to bussing it down through Mexico and Central America, she currently lives and works in Cochabamba, Bolivia and believes experiencing first hand what foreign culture is really like, serves as her ultimate passion.

1 Comment

  1. Great article. We agree with every point you made, especially not dissing the country you are from. For us, a good traveler uses their experiences abroad in a way that helps them also appreciate where they come from more. There’s positives and negatives in all places in the world!

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