EXCUSE ME, YOU’RE BEING A DOUCHEBAG: 6 TRAVEL NO-NO’S
I’ve been on the road for about seven months now, and I’ve met wonderful people who are defining what it means to live a meaningful and self-authored life. Conversations with these people are like receiving high-fives from God.
But I’ve also met a couple of douchebags.
Perhaps you have witnessed some of these No-No’s, or maybe you’re even engaging in them. It’s not too late to change.
Here are six un-cool trends in traveler behavior.
[Be sure to comment with your own Travel No-No’s]
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National flags on backpacks
I think it’s great to be proud of where we’re from. But explicit patriotism is tiresome.
For me, travel is about stepping out of one’s nation, and all the assumptions that come with being a citizen of any given country. Besides, there is some important learning achieved when we attempt to liberate ourselves from political attachments.
Canadians are often guilty of committing this travel faux pas. They are hell-bent on ensuring that their identities are not confused with Americans. Guess what? Americans are some of the nicest people that I’ve met. How about we stop worrying about how someone might perceive us, and simply start being awesome humans?
John Lennon said it wonderfully in his anthemic peace song – “Imagine there’s no countries. It isn’t hard to do. Nothing to kill or die for. And no flags on your backpack, too.”
I promise that you can keep your identity without having it stamped on your forehead, or your backpack. Be a citizen of the world first and foremost.
Reggae music in hostels 100% of the time
Kill. Me. Now.
I like a Bob Marley ditty as much as the next fellow. But the over saturation of reggae music in hostels is becoming a MAJOR travel cliché. I understand that hostel managers are trying to create a chillaxin’ environment. And I support that. But hearing ‘One Love’ every hour is not going to inspire me nor relax me. In fact all I hear is an implicit message that says, “The staff is too stoned to find new music.”
Use of the term “Third World”
Take a step back and think for a minute. Do you see anything problematic with labeling countries as first, second or third? Essentially it’s like ranking them in terms of value. And guess who is setting these standards? It’s the quote-unquote “First World” countries. This generic classification system has everything to do with economics and politics, and fails to incorporate cultural, social, historical and other complex elements of what might determine “worthiness.”
Yet, I’ll be the first to admit that differences do exist between nations, specifically in terms of development, corruption, democracy, health care, education and more. So if you’re trying to find a way to describe these differences, more contemporary words are “Developed/Developing” or “Northern/Southern.” Of course these definitions are also problematic, but it sure beats the horrible practice of actually ranking nations as first, second and third.
Of course it’s annoying when someone returns drunk to the dorm-room, and proceeds to make a shitload of noise. That’s an obvious no-no. But the same can be said about the early riser who shuffles through his or her bag. That crinkling sound as of plastic is like nails on a chalkboard.
If you need to repack, get your shit and do it in a space that is not near me.
I’m trying to sleep.
Flying is a rather exhausting experience for most of us. And I can only imagine it is made more challenging with the responsibility of children.
But parents who neglect to discipline their children – and allow them to pound on the back of my chair – should be required to immediately exit the airplane. At 30 000 feet of altitude.
If you don’t have enough energy to attend to your children, then don’t take them with you to Spain. Take them to the local library and get them a nice DVD or book about Barcelona. It will save you thousands of dollars and preserve your sanity. And my sanity.
Claiming to have “done” countries
Valley girl #1: “OMG, I totally want to do Thailand during spring break next year.”
Valley girl #2: “I did Thailand back in 2009. It was, like, so amazing. Those people have so little, but they’re still happy.”
Firstly, we don’t “do” countries. We “do” cleanses or marathons or drugs or even sexual partners. Nations are far too culturally and geographically complex to be whittled down into a checklist of places that we’ve “done.”
THINGS TO DO TODAY:
- Grocery store
Secondly, in saying that you “did” a country, it suggests that you are sort of finished with the country, and this risks implying that the nation no longer has value to you.
“I traveled in South East Asia for three months.”
“I visited Zimbabwe last year.”
“I would like to backpack in New Zealand.”