Travelers are a unique group of people that are both admired and sneered at. Almost everyone wants to travel extensively, but only a handful of people actually do. Some travelers choose to live and work abroad for years at a time. Just like we have preconceived notions and stereotypes of the places we travel to, locals (at home and abroad) have developed colorful traveler stereotypes. No, not every traveler is a tacky tourist— in fact, we generally pride ourselves on shattering travel stereotypes like that.
Here are five traveler stereotypes & why they are oh so wrong:
5. Travelers are arrogant.
Some people think it’s arrogant to start every sentence with, “Well, when I was teaching abroad in Bali…” And, okay, maybe it starts off as a little bit of a humblebrag, but as travelers, we love sharing our experiences with others. Don’t muzzle your traveler, listen to their stories! We’re not trying to brag or belittle you because you might not have traveled…yet!
The Truth: Sometimes travelers have a tendency to talk a person’s ear off about all of the places they’ve been. Again, it is NOT because they’re bragging, but it’s because they’re excited about everything they’ve seen and done. If traveling is a big part of someone’s life, and they have been teaching abroad for a significant amount of time, that person is going to talk about it often. Just like if your cat is a big part of your life, you’re going to tell everyone about the time she ate a bumble bee on accident. In both cases — pics or it didn’t happen.
4. Travelers have a lot of money.
If someone can afford to spend a year in Europe, they must be well-off. Between the plane ticket, accommodations, international program fees, and endless weekend excursions, OBVIOUSLY all travelers are totally loaded.
The Truth: Yes, traveling can be expensive. But if everyone could afford hotels, why would backpacking and CouchSurfing exist? Most travelers aren’t necessarily rolling in it, but they make it work. Traveling is that “something special” that global nomads save up for; they’ll live off of ramen and nutella toast for a year if it means they can go to Costa Rica for six months. Traveling the world on a shoestring budget is somewhat of an art form, but it is something anyone can learn.
Often, travelers will find jobs teaching English abroad or pursue volunteering opportunities abroad that enable them to travel longer and immerse themselves deeper in local culture. As well as traveling meaningfully, these kinds of roles will let you travel for much longer than you could as a tourist.
3. Travelers don’t work
One of the more pernicious traveler stereotypes is that travelers have poor work ethic because they spend all of their time seeing the world rather than climbing up the corporate ladder. Only the weak actually use vacation time, right?
The Truth: This is one of those easy travel myths to debunk. In order for someone to take a sabbatical and still have a position waiting for their return, that person must have worked their booty off! Or, for travelers who don’t have the option of taking a sabbatical, working or teaching abroad are options that allow them experience a new place while earning a buck. Many travelers, especially young explorers who have barely entered the workforce, work while they travel. And working abroad isn’t always glamorous: many travelers will scrub toilets to get by, and do it happily if it means they can keep traveling.
2. It’s easy for travelers to get up and go.
Classic travel myths paint travelers as free-spirited world wanderers who don’t have any important relationships or responsibilities to tie them down. People will look at them in awe and say, “Wow, I wish I could just get up and go like that.”
The Truth: You can get up and go! Anyone can. Travelers aren’t mythical creatures, they’re risk takers. They are just as afraid to get up and go as everyone else, but they do it because they know it’ll be worth it. Travelers often have families that they’re close with, significant others, and an entire life that would need to be put on hold in order to go to teach English abroad in Malaysia. It’s a tough decision for everyone.
People who really want to travel won’t just dream about going; they’ll make sacrifices and actually go.
1. Travelers are avoiding the “real world.”
Too many people scoff at travelers as people who are just avoiding responsibilities and the daily routine of “the real world.”
The Truth: Yes, traveling can be a great change from “the norm,” but it certainly doesn’t free you from responsibility. Traveling takes a lot of planning, time management, and budgeting; it creates work rather than hiding it. More importantly, who defined “the real world” as staying in one spot and working a 9-to-5? You’d think the real world would be, well, the actual world! Some could argue that travelers are running to the real world and living life the way it was intended.
Fight traveler stereotypes and snide remarks about tacky tourists in your travels. By living and working abroad, you will hone your cross-cultural and communication skills, learn to be adaptable and open-minded, and gain a more global perspective. Traveling isn’t necessarily just an exercise in shirking responsibility; it is about accepting responsibility and a great chance to build your resume as well. Your next job interview certainly won’t be a boring one!