The Sanctimonious Traveler

I will argue with anyone that travel is the best education you can get. You learn more traveling about life, yourself, the world and pretty much anything else than you will in a classroom. That said, it isn’t for everyone and everyone does it for different reasons. Travel can also be a bit of a lightning rod, a polarizing topic to some people. It can become a game of one-upmanship or righteous indignation by some but even worse to me is the sanctimonious traveler.

The Sanctimonious Traveler

The sanctimonious traveler is one who claims to have seen and done a lot and thinks whatever he or she did is better than what anyone else has done, could do or ever will do. There is no reasoning with the sanctimonious traveler. They always think they’re right and often only respect those who agree with them but don’t threaten their travel and moral superiority.

 

We all know someone like this in life let alone travel. However, travel can be like politics or religion. It can become a really focused polarizing topic where the sanctimonious traveler is more visible than a normal sanctimonious person talking about whatever.  But their hypocrisy and bullshit is always the same.

The Sanctimonious Traveler

In my hobby and chosen business I have come across many of these types both online and in person and they’re always the same. They judge others immediately, generally without ever meeting them and cast negativity on whatever the person has done or is claiming. It’s a clear attempt at imposing themselves upon others and solidifying their moral travel superiority in their own minds and perhaps influencing a few others to feel the same. It’s a joke and I have no time for people like this.

 

Most of these folks have no life whatsoever or if they do they surround themselves with people who don’t challenge them. The sanctimonious traveler doesn’t like challenges from other people in travel or in life. When they see someone doing something cool or noble they’ll always look for fault to call them out on whatever they think they can get away with.

 

This childish behavior sadly is very common in the travel world and anyone who travels has likely come across it, even if you didn’t realize it. Here are a few examples of what I mean.

The Sanctimonious Traveler

You went on vacation to Asia and visited 5 or 6 countries in 2 weeks. That’s very feasible, common and sounds like a lot of fun. If you’re a normal person, you have limited time and want to see as much as you can because you don’t know when or if you’ll be back. You post about your trip on Facebook or tell a story to a group that has traveled and someone will say something negative or highbrow like you barely had time to get to know any of the places you visited. Or did you even have time to breathe, you were moving around so much. Something like that that’s untrue, annoying to hear and unnecessary to say.

 

Or if you do a day trip to a place or go via cruise some sanctimonious traveler will say something like that didn’t count as a visit. They might say something like, when I did it I met some guy and he took me in for tea and then I baptized his kid and we’re lifelong Facebook friends. I exaggerate not; I’ve heard people say ridiculous stuff like this to others and myself.

 

People who travel a lot take travel seriously and don’t want “non true believers” (you know normal people who travel for fun or worse yet someone who has a goal) encroaching on their turf. Other peoples’ adventures are always too short or not outrageous enough or they didn’t go somewhere or they only hit the tourist spots. Again, you cannot win with the sanctimonious traveler. So don’t try, just ignore and pity them like the dummies they are.

The Sanctimonious Traveler

Believe me, I heard it all as I went to every country in the world. I did the whole thing over 13 years and either was working full-time or in school 90% of the time. So I didn’t spend a month in every place I went nor would I want to. Hard truth here but not every country is worth a month or even a few days of my time. I almost always had specific goals in each place I wanted to achieve. With limited time I would try to see several places on a trip. But I always made the most of the time I had and if I felt I missed something I wanted to see or do, I went back or I plan to!

 

At times, since I was young or because I was visible online or on TV, I got some flack from older travelers saying I was traveling too fast or whatever it was (I mean it took me 13 years, it wasn’t like I did it overnight). Many of these people would use fake names and emails online. It was an embarrassment for them and a source of amusement for me especially as you could check their IP addresses and figure out who it was.  It’s not brain surgery.

 

On a few occasions, I had some issue come up and I was unable to visit a place “properly”. Once a flight was cancelled twice and my 2 scheduled days turned into a non-refundable turnaround flight. Another I popped in unscheduled on a connection and didn’t feel like backtracking to see a place I didn’t really care to see anyway. Another there was only one flight a week and I didn’t want to be stuck on a random island nation for a week as I had better ways to spend my time. And to boot, I later went back and revisited each of these places “properly” for my own edification when I was nearby and it was convenient.

 

Things like this are true of everyone who travels a lot, wants to, did or tried to visit every country. Stuff happens that’s sometimes out of your control or that you deem not worth it. I’m a firm believer that if you’re the one traveling it’s up to you what you get out of your experience.

The Sanctimonious Traveler

That said, I don’t condone people who blatantly transit dozens of airports or make disingenuous claims but the truth is I really don’t care either way. It has nothing to do with me; I am not a sanctimonious traveler and people can do or say whatever they want-I won’t lose a minute of sleep over it.

 

If you go to a place for a day, someone will say you didn’t go long enough, you didn’t get to immerse yourself in the culture or really experience a place “properly”. If you want to be entertained ask the sanctimonious traveler how long they were in that place and often times it’ll be like 2 days (if that). Therefore, they’re doubly as noble as you. Whereas another time you were in a place for a week or a month and they were there for a few hours or a day. Yet you don’t lower yourself to their level. When they go low, you go high. Where have I heard that before?

 

The point is you cannot win so don’t try; you can never please everyone-this much I know. If you spend a week in a place, someone else will say they spent a month and you really can’t get the feel of it for at least a month. Another guy will say they spent 6 months or a year and so on. It’s a childish game you cannot win nor should you care.

 

Bottom line is the sanctimonious traveler will always look down upon other travelers because in their minds they are the Messiah of travel. Whatever they did was the best and if you didn’t eat in some restaurant or stay at some hotel or have a life changing experience, you suck. These people are called LOSERS.

 

Your travel is for you and nobody else-even if you keep a blog or social media or talk on TV about it. If you want to travel quick or slow, cheap or luxuriously, you’re allowed. It’s OK; no normal people are going to judge you. In fact, you’ll be amazed how many people you inspire. It’s all about your experience, your happiness and your level of fulfillment. A place I love, you may not or vice versa. Travel is about experiences and sometimes you can have an amazing experience on a day trip or a month trip.

 

Life is for the living and as a wise man that recently passed away named Hugh Hefner once said, “Life is too short to live someone else’s dream”. The sanctimonious traveler can do no wrong in their mind and you can do no right so tune out the noise and enjoy the world.

Comments

  1. I love when you do posts like this! You’re so irreverent about most things so it’s funny when you speak authoritatively, not at anyone specifically but get your point across, on blog posts and on Facebook. Good shit!

  2. Internet trolls are such losers, you’re so right. I love that you checked their IP Addresses, just mental noting for future use, LOL!

  3. People can travel exactly how they want for as long or short as they want. If people criticize you for your trips then they are losers as you said. I’m sure they’re just jealous. Great post.

  4. LOL, best thing I’ve read today!

  5. The Michelle Obama and Hugh Hefner quotes make this amazing!

  6. I hate people who are one uppers or negative in general. They\’re so counterproductive. I love how you used Sanctimonious Traveler as a metaphor for basically any Asshole in life. Well done and I really enjoyed reading this.

  7. Chantelle says:

    I went to Paris recently for a 2 day work trip. It was my first time there and I was exhausted from the flight and basically worked straight through my time there. My husband and I were at dinner with a small group of people and I was asked about it. I said I didn’t get to do much and a friends boyfriend kept saying I missed out on this and that and it was a shame, blah blah. That really annoyed me because I was there on a work trip, not a sightseeing tour. So I understand what you mean here.

  8. This is a great post. It translates across all parts of life even though you’re focused on the travel aspect. Sanctimonious people are just dicks in general. They just have nothing better to do with their life and their time.

  9. I assume you were talking about Nauru when you mentioned random island nation. I loved your post from there. I haven’t been but it doesn’t seem like a place to spend a week. But then again, I couldn’t spend a week in 90% of countries of the world. I need my creature comforts so that’s why I follow you!

    • Good detective work and I appreciate that! I ended up doing 2 days on Nauru as they added several flights a week there since my first time stopping over there years ago. The 2 days were tolerable only because I ended up meeting someone who followed me on Facebook there who showed me around and introduced me to others she worked with. So it was interesting. The place itself would get old after a few hours to be honest.

  10. Michael Gay says:

    Excellent post Lee, really rings true. It makes me think especially of the TripAdvisor forum – billed as a friendly platform for travel junkies, yet every time one has a query it’s always met by a figurative ‘Mr Vietnam’ or ‘Mrs Ukraine’ etc.. usual comments “why are you going there in the winter?” “You will get bored having 2 weeks there” “2 days does not even come close to scratching the surface of this place” “you are being way too vague”.. irritating!!

    • Haha ya, an exact reason I’m not a member of any forums or Facebook groups. I tried doing a Facebook group for a minute and it was always the same few people responding who think they know everything. People putting others down, complaining, etc. I have no time for that.

  11. What a great post Lee! Glad to read this post. I appreciate your time and efforts in your work. I love that you checked their IP Addresses. Thanks

  12. This type of thing has happened to me many times in some of the Facebook groups I’ve been in moreso than in person. I travel and live alone so I don’t mix with too many people. In the online groups you think you have a sense of community. But it’s one sanctimonious judgy bully after another. I enjoyed your post.

    • I’m not in any online groups but I have been briefly in the past. I can’t really comment on the bullies but I’ve seen the mob mentality in action many times online. So I’m sure it happens. Like I said Travelers are not always enlightened people. Many think they are but can’t get past themselves.

  13. This post is perfect for me! It just happened to me the other day. Coming back from Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and Bali over 10 days. I was telling the story to a few friends, all of whom have traveled a little. One of them did the “Did you even sleep? Can you even remember what you saw or did?”

    The truth is, it was one of the best trips of my life and I will cherish the memories forever. Screw him and his jealous noise!

  14. I once had some people who had a website on ‘slow travel’ criticize me.

    When I went to their website and actually looked at what they did, they took a 9-month around the world trip. When I told them I took 6-months just to cross the Pacific, I never heard from them again.

  15. This sounds like this comes from insecurity about your rapid, superficial travel style…. i expect a defensive response but it smells distinctly of that, and I think deep down you feel it too. But you don’t have to. You traveled to tick boxes, and that’s great for you, it is what it is. Don’t worry, you’re free to consider yourself how you consider yourself.

    No need to lie to yourself about “do it over 13 years”, but 90% of the time you were working/studying. So that’s 1.3 years then? Lol.

    PS “You went on vacation to Asia and visited 5 or 6 countries in 2 weeks. “. Only an American wouldn’t judge that. That’s ridiculous pace in all honesty. In Canada, I’d be laughed at, and rightly so.

    In summary, you achieved a goal, and that’s super. Are you inspiring as a traveler to someone like me who dreams of traveling the world? No. Inspiring as a go-getter? Sure.

  16. Great post Lee. Made me laugh and feel pity for people like that. Sorry I can’t make the meet up tomorrow. Have fun and happy holidays!

  17. If people in general worried about themselves instead of others, the world would be better off.

  18. Hi Lee, I haven’t been on your site in ages, so it’s nice to be back and see it again. From my own experience of these types of travellers, they tend to be younger people aged 18 – 23 and rave about crazy stories to try and reel you into their travels. I mostly encountered this in places like Thailand and Laos. But even worse types of travellers are liars and those who take advantage of others kindness and niceness. My last 18 months have involved huge depression and a withdrawal from travel based on those characters I met, so posts like this resonate with me a lot. I personally get a lot of criticism because I go to unrecognised countries and class myself as a backpacker, tourist and traveller all in one. Others try to claim I was a fake traveller, not a tourist, not a real backpacker etc. Some people like to claim you can’t be all three, or that you can still be a backpacker when you use a suitcase! The clue is in the name! Keep the good work – there really cannot be many parts of the world you have yet to visit! Safe travels, Jonny

    • Hi Jonny and welcome back! Sorry to hear but don’t let anyone get you down. Who really cares? If you keep a blog or anything public, you kind of have to expect people are gonna be people and be negative. I’m not a backpacker and haven’t been since about 2003 and with the internet and all the landscape has changed. Just keep doing your thing and don’t sweat the small stuff and surely not others. Take care man!

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