Travel Snobs – we have all met them or in most cases been one. How many times have you looked down your nose at the traveller next to you and said “Why are you doing it that way? Don’t you know the proper way to travel is…”
I myself am guilty of this on more than one occasion. When a friend told me she was going to Phuket, I turned my nose up “Don’t you realise that there are so many better places in Thailand to do the whole relax on a beach thing” – the worst part is that I have never been to Phuket. I based this on the great time I had on Kho Tao and gossip about what Phuket is like (full of Bogans and the Barmy Army re-living their schoolies/spring break)
But the best thing about the Travel Snob, whether you have met one or have been one, it makes for a great story!
The Authentic Travel Snob
I mentioned this theory to my mother who volunteered in Africa off the coast Tanzania on an island called Pemba for 3 years ending in the very early 80s – this is her travel snob story:
I arrived in Kenya very poor and tired after the crossing from Tanzania via Madagascar (border was closed between Tanzania and Kenya). The YHA was full of Americans, British, New Zealanders and Danes all hoping to cross into Tanzania to continue their overland trek of East Africa. I didn’t have the shillings (Mum – shillings??) to pay for a bunk but I was allowed to sleep on the veranda.
Money eventually arrived from my parents (Thank god for parents), five pound notes stuck between pages of a letter- poste restance – to various post offices. I spent a few hours cruising the bus station to exchange my precious blue fivers on the black market for shillings. Easy way to suddenly become rich, so a trip to the Expat watering hole – The Norfolk Hotel – for a real beer was in order. This is where I sadly learnt John Lennon had been killed. Next to the Norfolk Hotel was a shop that sold English food so I bought cornflakes, chocolate and tin soup.
When I returned to the YHA and sat in the communal kitchen to eat my goodies, the other travellers who were cooking bean curries, choko stews , pilau, looked at me in horror. They commented “why eat commercial food when there is so much fresh exotic food to be bought in the markets.” I looked up from stuffing my face with chocolate and said “I had eaten local food of cooked bannas, bread fruit etc for 3 years on the Island of Pemba, cooked in a kitchen without running water with a charcoal stove, survived Rhamadan and its daylight fast and lost 30 kilos – I will eat what the hell I wanted!”
Though I did feel very ill afterwards, it took me about 6 months to get use to rich western food and to gain 20 kilos back.
The “True” Vagabond travel snob
My friend S is a veteran solo traveller – she is constantly popping off to all corners of the world, just to see a different horizon. This is her travel snob story:
Can’t remember if I told you about Hairy-Tea-Guy (oh the names you make up for the people who’s name you cant remember) that I met in Byron Bay recently. I was sitting on a bench with a coffee and some cake trying to kill time while waiting for a bus, when this hairy guy (long hair, big bushy beard, I’d say he was mid 20s but a bit hard to tell with all the hair) came up and asked if he could sit with me. He had a portable stove and a big box of spices and started making some tea. So we were chatting and at some point a lady came over handing out flyers for volunteer work at a farm near by where you got free food and accommodation in exchange for a few hours work. So then we started chatting to her, when she made the mistake of calling Hairy-Tea-Guy a “backpacker”. He took offense, because he was not a “backpacker”, he was a “traveller” which is apparently very different and far superior. He started waffling on about how he was a true traveller because he actually experienced Byron rather than just going out and getting drunk like all the other backpackers in Byron who don’t experience any of the culture etc. Personally I think you can go out and get drunk and still experience some of the local culture, maybe not at the same time, although night life can make up a part of the local culture and in Byron I would say that that is probably the case. Anyway, Hairy-Tea-Guy was nice but he was a travel snob. Everyone has their own reason for travelling and have different ideas for what travelling involves, who are we to decide if they are doing it correctly or not?!
The Do-it-in-Style travel snob.
T is the ultimate outdoors guy, its all about off roading in his jeep, fishing and sing songs around a camp fire for him. In this story I am not sure who is the true travel snob, T for being the “authentic Travel Snob” or his friend for being the “do-it-in-style” snob:
I went travelling with a rich mate once, was supposed to be three months of camping, After three nights he refused to camp any more. He ended up staying in fancy hotels while I slept on the beach. At one point I had to four-wheel-drive 70ks to drop him off at a 5-star resort on Fraser Island while I camped on the other side of the island with the dingoes.
I think ultimately it doesn’t matter if you are a Hairy-Tea-Guy boiling tea on the beach or gorging on a sneaky McDonalds in an exotic country, or if you like to travel in style, or if you like to sleep with the stars for company – as long as your travelling you are doing more than those sitting at home watching Getaway!