Travel Snobs

C'mon now. Admit it. You all know one (or two) and are guilty of being one at some point or other. You know the type. "I've been to XXX number of countries and you haven't so I'm more sophisticated than you are." Or worse, "We don't travel to touristy spots. WE prefer to go to the hard to reach, remote places that truly enrich our cultural experiences." So why do some travellers behave this way? Do we really believe that we are "better" because we've been to the top of some remote volcano or the bottom of some canyon that took us a rickety old plane ride, a derelict bus ride and a 10 mile walk to get to? And yes, I DO know some people like this.

Posted by Nancy
Bloomington, IL, USA
7675 posts

Yes, Tom, that is exactly who I was referring to. My favorite "expertise" post of his was when he told someone that, yes, you can take cars on the ferry to the Aran Islands in Ireland, and posted a link to a ferry to Arran Island off of Scotland. Aran Island ferries only take people, but you can take cars to Arran Island. He never backed down.

Posted by Lee
Lakewood, Colorado
11264 posts

What really bugs me is those people who don't have the initiative or the knowledge to break free of the well known, touristy places, but defensively criticize those who do and share their enjoyment of those places, as snobs.

Posted by Ed
Pensacola
7967 posts

In my mind the 'snobs' are those with an extremely superficial knowledge and can more accurately be described as 'bores'. They've been somewhere once, but never looked around the corner. They've been to a lot of places, but can only describe the hotels. They've never seen anything not listed in a guidebook. They know the history of nothing. They can't compare two dissimilar spots if their lives depended on it. They generalize and shoot from the hip. They're actually not well-traveled, they've just collected place names. They can tell you what they did, but not why they did it. As posters, they shoot their whole wad on one-liners and have zip credibility. An example comes to mind: A gal at some obligatory affair a few weeks back was effusing about her trip to Paris where she's discovered a maarveelous cafe on a quaint back street where she felt a bit over-dressed in her finery. She carried on about this discovery of an unknown gem for more time than the law allows. Turns out it was frigging TwoMaggots for Pete's sake. I wandered off. One the other hand, a few months back and pretty late at night, six or seven of us were sitting around a beat-up table behind a nice-enough hotel in Hobart. It was essentially the owner's hangout. Most of us had on jeans and boots or something similar. One gal was barefoot and wearing a cocktail dress, but she still fit in. All six inhabited continents were represented, conversation was switching among at least five languages without anyone needing much translation help (and we probably could've mustered that many more somehow), and as far as I can recall everybody had traveled extensively on at least five of the continents, most on all. Arguments/dissertations ranged from the most effective form of chimney pot to some obscure finding in geology. They sure weren't snobs and not one was boring.

Posted by Roy
Auburn, AL
800 posts

I agree with Ralph. This topic can blow apart quickly, and probably will. Jerks are jerks, no matter the circumstances. Travel, no-travel, liberal, conservative, my team, your team -- no matter what they do, they will be jerks about it. It is best to just walk away.

Posted by Zoe
Toledo, Ohio, US
2460 posts

I've run into some people who have traveled a lot and still are not sophisticated or worldly by any definition (sounds snobbish to say, doesn't it). The more I travel, the more humble I feel about what is out there still to find.

Posted by Michael
Des Moines, IA
2155 posts

"We prefer to go to the hard to reach, remote places that truly enrich our cultural experiences." Not at all impressed with indicating the number of visits to Europe coupled with the number of nights (or years) in Europe when reading a reply. Frankly, this does little to prove one's superior travel prowess anywhere, including in Europe. However, I am impressed hearing from truly well-traveled folks who go "off the beaten path" all of the time and will gladly share the culturally rich experiences they've had visiting The World's Largest Hand-Dug Well, The Loess Hills, The Flint Hills, Area 51, or the Villisca Ax Murder House. Add your favorite remote tourist site as you wish, but these type of tourists are actually much more authentic, interesting, and probably have more travel expertise than those trying to prove they're better than others because of where they've been, the number of times they've been there, etc.

Posted by Ed
Pensacola
7967 posts

It's hard to claim you're sophisticated when you're standing knee-deep in a benjo ditch.

Posted by Will
Columbia, SC
315 posts

Being well-traveled means you have free time and money. That's it.

Posted by Nigel
East Midlands, England
8735 posts

But it is helpful to have been somewhere before answering questions about it; simply quoting a link can be less than helpful and some may think that the poster is either a person of few words or has never been somewhere but can do a googling. On the other hand when a question is posed like how do I get to my (un-named) hotel from the airport, sometimes posted with those precise words, just posting a link to the page that said hotel (finally prised out of the poster) which answers the question is sufficient. From your other recent post I see that you prefer to use a travel agent. Most people here don't as we have discovered that most of them haven't been to most places (if any) and have less knowledge than we do. That's not arrogant or being more sophisticated, but actual knowledge is valuable. Do people come on here, ask one question and wander off, or do people look around while they are here and learn from related posts? Learning substantial background about contributors allows a questioner to gauge the response.

Posted by Michael
Des Moines, IA
2155 posts

Agree completely that knowledge is valuable...no doubt about it...that's the whole point of the Helpline. But what's the value in saying something like, "Well, I've spent 563 nights over 23.4 years in Europe, and I can assure you that..." when formulating a reply? Don't answer...it's a rhetorical question. I haven't seen this as much lately, but it was a daily occurrence previously.

Posted by Terry kathryn
Ann Arbor, Mi
2600 posts

Yes, I admit to being a travel snob on occasion... going to start a self help group for the condition... any other takers?

Posted by Tom
Hüttenfeld, Hessen, Germany
9097 posts

Did I miss some recent flame war or something? First the post on "a kinder, gentler forum", now this one? I haven't seen any particularly snappy or rude replies lately. I've said it before, and I'll say it again- despite some disagreements, this is one of the most civil forums I've seen anywhere on the internet. And it's also very well self-policed. Although I can only speak for myself, I'm a regular here not just to contribute and admire my own posts... I'm here to learn from others. I want to have trust in the information I read here. And if it takes a "travel snob" to call out bad information, then so be it. Yeah, I'm guilty too of sometimes being a travel snob...

Posted by Kathleen
Bolton
88 posts

Nigel, I don't "prefer" to use a travel agent. I actually prefer to use family/friends/coworkers and then the internet to do my research. BUT I find that the internet is fraught with travel snobs (a few here at times) who tend to make asking/learning about travel a less than pleasant experience. I've had to resort to travel agents at times simply because I don't need to have someone look down on me because I haven't been to that little out of the way French village that only the truly well travelled have seen.

Posted by Kathleen
Bolton
88 posts

Ralph, I'm all ears regarding the St Petersburg metro, drinking vodka and two secret service agents. :-)

Posted by James
Frisco
1781 posts

I sort of agree with Ralph. With regards to some of the other comments remember things can often come out sounding different than intended when clicking away at a keyboard. I do like to know that a person actually went to the place they are discussing. And I like to know if it was for a day or a week because it's easy to get a skewed impression in a short period of time. Still valid, I just weigh it differently. I also assume everything I read is an opinion and opinions are just that, "opinions". None are right or wrong. Context is everything and we don't get much of that in a format like this so any added information is helpful. If the person sounds a little snooty then I would imagine the place the recommend may have some of the same attributes. Hey, sometimes I like snooty. You never know. But generally I think the people here are good, decent, well meaning individuals and I've never felt as though someone was being intentionally rude.

Posted by Nancy
Bloomington, IL, USA
7675 posts

I think sometimes people who mention the number of times or amount of time they have spent somewhere don't do it to show their "travel prowess" as much as to say that their opinion is based on more than a single visit somewhere. We all know people who act as authorities about certain subjects who have, it turns out later, never been there, or been there one day as part of a cruise, or some other limited experience. If someone is asking about peoples' experience with something, having had more than one exposure to it can be as helpful as multiple people with one each.

Posted by Tom
Hüttenfeld, Hessen, Germany
9097 posts

"We all know people who act as authorities about certain subjects who have, it turns out later, never been there, or been there one day as part of a cruise, or some other limited experience." Yup. Do we need to mention YOU-KNOW-WHO again? Someone like that can (and did) poison a valuable forum like this.

Posted by Michael
Des Moines, IA
2155 posts

Nancy's right. Within the proper context, one might offer up some data regarding number of visits to bolster the recommendation their making...that's okay. But sometimes, it seems the intent is to prove superiority. BTW, since we're gettin' all GHW Bush-like with the titles of our threads now, I thought I would throw out that the Helpline community is like, "...a thousand points of light in a broad and peaceful sky." Too cheesy?

Posted by Elaine
Columbia, SC
744 posts

"They sure weren't snobs".......really, sounds a tad pretentious to me.

Posted by Kira
Seattle, WA, USA
954 posts

I personally appreciate knowing how much travel experience someone has when they post an answer. Snobbily-phrased or not (and the relative snobbiness of any post is very much a matter of the reader's opinion, of their mood when reading that day, etc.) I like responses that tell me up front how much experience they are based on. I think, "Well, s/he might sound a bit poncy, but s/he's been there a zillion times, so s/he must know." That differentiates answers based on long experience from those that might be based on one trip to Amsterdam, in the 90s, in college. Obviously, someone can post an response based on one long-ago trip, and if that person doesn't say that's what they're basing their opinion on, you will never know... so I tend to be more trusting of information from the folks who modestly (and briefly) state their cred right up front. Or brag about it! At least I know they have cred. :-)

Posted by Sarah
Stuttgart, Germany
2012 posts

A snob is just someone with opinions/experiences that are different from your own that make you feel defensive. What cracks me up about this forum is that one of the things I really like about the RS books is that his advice is opinionated, yet a few people on the board get furious over opinionated advice. I may not AGREE with his advice all the time, but I appreciate that he IS opinionated and states that. It's refreshing compared to most travel guides that give you dry, opinionated listings of places. But then again, I'm a proud snob. Not the rich kind (I wish!) but in that I don't like crappy stuff (what I deem crappy is completely subjective, obviously) and enjoy not-crappy stuff. Call me a snob, it's not the first time, and I don't care, if it means I am getting what I have determined to be the best value for my travel dollar in terms of relaxation and beauty and fun.

Posted by Ed
Pensacola
7967 posts

Easy, Elaine. The geology dude has a PhD from Rhodes (SA) and was explaining the field work he was doing. The chimney pots lady is a professional photographer who was working on some kind of a commissioned compendium and knows enough about the relative thermodynamics in various climates to make your toes curl. Just people talking about what they do to people who have no idea that such interests exist.

Posted by Randy
Minneapolis, MN, USA
1507 posts

If we were all honest, we would admit that we have all been guilty at times of being a travel snob. That's not really the issue, I don't think. It's just another way of saying nobody is perfect. One thing I continually struggle with are the mind-blowingly different ways people like to travel. We all have our preferences for how we like to do it, but that doesn't mean anyone else wants to do it that way. So I frequently read about others being excited about a trip I would never take, or doing it in a way I think is crazy. I try to stop myself from expecting them to conform to my travel preferences, but sometimes it's a challenge. I don't know about anyone else here, but in my case, this is literally the only place I get to talk about travel. I probably don't spend five minutes a year talking about travel in my non-internet world - essentially for fear of sounding like a travel snob or sending the very false impression that we have money to burn. So in some small way, this is my release valve. If I get over-excited here occasionally, that's probably in part why. And yes, I think travel does make you a better person. It may not make you a good person, but it makes you better than you would have been without it. And while it doesn't matter much where you go as long as you go, I do think it has a greater effect the farther you stray from your comfort zone.

Posted by Kira
Seattle, WA, USA
954 posts

Randy - love this: "One thing I continually struggle with are the mind-blowingly different ways people like to travel. We all have our preferences for how we like to do it, but that doesn't mean anyone else wants to do it that way. So I frequently read about others being excited about a trip I would never take, or doing it in a way I think is crazy. I try to stop myself from expecting them to conform to my travel preferences, but sometimes it's a challenge." YES. YES. YES.

Posted by Douglas
Oak Park, Illinois
2375 posts

I try to stop myself from expecting them to conform to my travel preferences, but sometimes it's a challenge. I try to post by this philosophy above. I do sometimes see people answer questions with a completely different approach from what the OP asked for. Those posters come across to me as snobs, a kind of "do it my way or you're wrong" approach. But there can be a fine line of giving people contrary advice on things they may not realize isn't a good idea. I also admit to being a "snob" on many things, travel, wine, food, etc... I like a certain level of quality or experience and am able, and willing to pay for it. But not everyone is willing or able so I do try to remember that.

Posted by pat
victoria, Canada
7820 posts

I have mentioned how many times I have been to a place for good reason, to counteract a piece of advice or an opininon posted by someone else who had been there once! Example. I have been to Louvre many many times, a lady posted she had taken "everyones" advice on a forum and used the Carosuel entrance to avoid the long line at the Pyramid entrance. She said the line at the Caroseul entrance was so long it went right through the shopping mall and her and hubby left rather then waited.. I then posted that having been to Louvre many times, always in high season I had always used that entrance and never waited more then ten minutes and suggested that perhaps on that particular day there was somethink unique going on, since before and since ( verified by other posters ) there is never a long line at that place. I don't think thats snobby at all.

Posted by Rik
Vicenza, Italy
700 posts

I'd say that sometimes the snobbery is inferred rather than implied. For example, I will sometimes preface a post about Venice by saying that I live near there or that I've probably been 60 or 70 times over the past 13 years that I've lived here. I realize that can come across as extremely arrogant or snobby to some people but the few times I've said something like that, it was merely to quantify that I probably know what I'm talking about. Along the same lines, one of my pet peeves is when people who have been to Italy a few times on vacation act like they are experts on all things Italian and say stuff on here that I know to be untrue. In a case like that I may mention the fact that I've lived here for X amount of years to lend credence to the fact that they're giving out bad advice and here's proof. It's a fine line and sometimes I have to watch what I say or how I say it but most of the time I say my piece and if someone is offended or thinks I'm bragging, that's their problem not mine.

Posted by jennifer
brooklyn, ny, usa
118 posts

theres like.....seven different issues going on in this thread right now. traveling does not in any way make you sophisticated/better than anyone/more interesting, etc. case in point: someone at work spent eleven days in italy, came back and summed up the entire trip in one sentence "it was cool i guess". a friend of mine went to a supermarket at the corner of his apartment and came back with a hysterical anecdotal story that had my laughing so hard my eyes teared. you either are an interesting person or you arent. travel doesnt change that at all. you can send 10 people on the same exact trip and all ten do not come back changed into the same person. they are still ten individuals with their own individual personalities. snobbery: stating how many times you have been somewhere is not a snob. that information is usually helpful. "oh this guy has been there ten times so i know his advice is based on experience". snobbery is those people who do the "i could not think of a fate more worse than not having seen THIS tourist attraction that i personally love! anyone who doesnt do their trip MY way is clearly doing europe wrong". im sorry, who the hell are you that your tastes and preferences are now the new gold standard to which everyone alive should live their lives, eh? you know what else i hate? when someone asks a question and rather than answer it, someone just has to use that opportunity to insist they are wrong. "hey, how do i get to this place". "dear god, why on earth would you ever want to go there? anyone with an ounce of class knows that you should be going here instead, like i have ten times, see how first class i am?" im going to cut that point short before i get mean(er).

Posted by jennifer
brooklyn, ny, usa
118 posts

continued: different people like different things. i have a friend who is a comic book fanatic. he met a girl who loves comic books, he thinks she is the greatest. i think they are both (loveable) dorks. the only way that your travel experience makes you a better person is if you use your experience to be kind and helpful to others. that goes for EVERYTHING in life. also by the way, just because YOU find your travels interesting, doesnt mean that anyone else does. we are all posting on a travel message board so we all like travel. it stands to reason that anyone posting here, would find anyone we met in life who has traveled a lot, to be interesting. but that doesnt mean YOU are interesting to everyone alive. if you meet someone who has never had an interest in seeing the world, they will not care how many innkeepers in however many remote towns know you by name.

Posted by Michael
Des Moines, IA
2155 posts

Well, it's probably a good thing young folks don't use this website for their travels. After reading through a thread like this, I'm pretty sure an outsider would think everyone here is a totally uninteresting d-bag.

Posted by pat
victoria, Canada
7820 posts

"Just saying" is a grammaricaly correct sentence???

Posted by Randy
Minneapolis, MN, USA
1507 posts

If being a better person were measurable in some way obvious to everyone, I might agree with Jennifer. But being a better person is not measured like the winner of a race, and it may not be visible to anyone else. It may not make you more outwardly interesting. It may not make you more outwardly empathetic. But there is value in leaving home and poking your nose around other places. Whether someone else judges you differently is irrelevant. Expecting them to judge you differently might be a good definition of snobbery. But I stand by my earlier statement; travel makes you a better person and travel farther outside your comfort zone is better still. In part, this is about definitions of terms. Arguing about "goodness" is going to be a lot like people arguing about global warming who don't know the difference between "climate" and "weather".

Posted by jennifer
brooklyn, ny, usa
118 posts

ralph, i have no idea who you are talking about when you say "elementary grammatical mistakes". of course, you may be referencing my lack of capital letters, but i dont really see how you could think it was a "grammatical mistake". like do you really think that each and every time i didnt use one, it was a "mistake" rather than i just dont use them ever? or maybe you are talking about someone else. if so, then carry on with your bad self.

Posted by Fred
San Francisco
2685 posts

True, I've been to a # of countries in Europe, once, twice or repeatedly. It has nothing with being "more sophisticated." And, I go to some touristy spots, depends if the places fit into my priorites, regardless if they are teeming with tourists. Going to the "hard to reach" (relatively) "remote places" is very much part of the itinerary, more than the touristy sites...for what resaon? To "enrich...cultural experiences" I doubt it, that depends on one's relative definiton.

Posted by jennifer
brooklyn, ny, usa
118 posts

i dont use capital letters. 99.99999% of the time this is brought up to me, its done so by someone on the internet trying to disprove a point i am making by claiming that i cant possibly have a point if i dont know how to use capital letters. its always worded along those lines. that i dont know how to use capital letters, that i make grammatical mistakes, etc. i promise you, i have heard it all. including when i DO use capital letters to stress a word (see what i did there?), someone always feels a need to pipe in that "oooh i caught you!" or "you made a mistake and accidentally used a capital!". i have had people on various message boards private message me to "correct" my post to take out the capital letters when i use them to indicated excitement, etc. its ridiculous to me. basically, if the internet was a giant social experiment, you could lock people in a room and force them to read my posts. you may get a huddle of people gossiping about "she doesnt even use capital letters for crissakes!!!" and on the other side of you room, you could have a huddle of people rolling their eyes at the first group. either way, it does nothing to change that travel does not mean you are a better person. i mean look at me. ive travelled the world and i still make "elementary grammatical mistakes". ahhhhhh yes.

Posted by Randy
Minneapolis, MN, USA
1507 posts

Ah, but Jennifer, you are discounting the possibility that without your travel experience, you might have even poorer typing habits. :) See, it's all about perspective. Time to move on now, I think...

Posted by Ed
Pensacola
7967 posts

Here's what I bet: there's a difference between grammar and orthography. Here's what else I bet: one of them has nothing to do with little letters and big letters, but the other one does. Just saying.

Posted by Tom
Chicago
2876 posts

If you think you're somehow better than other people because you've traveled, you're a travel snob. But if you think you're just luckier than other people because you've traveled, you're not.

Posted by Bets
Bloomington
1964 posts

Could I have a like button for jennifer in brooklyn and Tom in Chicago. Bravo!

Posted by Randy
Minneapolis, MN, USA
1507 posts

Weather and climate It's like banging my head against the wall Time to move on...

Posted by Kelly
St Petersburg Florida
948 posts

But what is worse......a travel snob or a grammar snob? I have my answer but I am going to keep it a secret. I will try not to end my sentence with a preposition. Sorry to get off topic. Travel has changed my life. I try to get away once a year, every year, no matter what. I do my trip research like it is my job. Well it is my job. Vacation is vacation, but travel is work. When I am asked a question about travel, I try hard to not to boast. I am humble and feel lucky that I have been able to travel for the past 8 years. But I try to base my advise off of my experiences and hard research; not because I am bragging about what I have seen and done. But there is another concept. In written word, it is hard to tell the tone of the written material. I may have meant to be humble but one may have read it thinking one is bragging or being sarcastic.

Posted by Dennis
Redmond, WA
284 posts

For anyone who evenly remotely considers wondering about the "been there, done that" attitude, I like the ads from the RV association: "Go there, do that!"

Posted by JB
Redding, CA, USA
1568 posts

Sure hope none of you think I am a travel snob. Personally, I try not to respond to a post unless I have first hand knowledge from being there. I have been here before there was a Travel Helpline...just the Graffiti Wall. Visiting the Graffiti Wall daily and asking questions or copy and pasting to Word help me plan my first trip to Europe. Not sure the date Travel Helpline opened but I am sure it was opened in the final stages of planning the trip. In my opinion, if a poster does not have anything positive to post....then don't then don't post anything. There are several posters on here (they know who they are) who have help me and hundreds of others. These posters have traveled wide and far. I personally rely for them for help. I hope they do not become discouraged from helping all of us with their vast
knowledge and experience. After all, it is a Travel Helpline.

Posted by JB
Redding, CA, USA
1568 posts

No one should be put down before they can afford to go to Europe every year....or travel the world. When you put someone down for that.....it is a sign of jealousy!!!!!!!!!

Posted by Chani
Tel Aviv
3505 posts

I must be too housepet oriented. When I read "no one should be put down until" all I could think of was euthenasia

Posted by JB
Redding, CA, USA
1568 posts

LOL too funny. BTW, loved my trip to Israel! We went up to the north, the Golan Heights as far south as Ein Bokek. The food was wonderful.

Posted by Toni
Charlotte, NC, USA
2846 posts

If your mind is already at least a bit open, travel will help you keep it open. It it is closed tight, travel will be exactly what you expect it to be. If you are interested in the places you go, you will probably learn something. Like most experiences, travel is usually more about what YOU bring to the table- attitude, openness, friendliness, etc. than it is about where you go or do not go, or how you get there, or where you stay when you are there,... All of that WILL impact your experience. But not alwyas the way you (or anyone else) thinks it will.
If you are a snob about other things you might be a snob about travel- MIGHT. If you aren't a snob about other things you MIGHT not be about travel. I live MY life and generally don't let others' opinions bother me (unless I believe them to be based on something I believe I need to change about myself). That's also the way I travel. You can be a snob about ANYTHING- good bad or indifferent.

Posted by Stay-ce
Northern California
141 posts

I believe that you are a better rounded person if you are open minded to other cultures and be willing to experience life through someone else's eyes. You can do this without leaving a 60 mile radius of your home. After reading a book about a family that took a year off to travel the world and he still came back a narrow minded person I was disappointed. It came back to the age old saying, "Wherever you go there YOU are".

Posted by Crash
Vance, Alabama
145 posts

Kathleen, I don't about snobbery on this site. a rare thing, I think. What I do know is that there are people here that have incredibly valuable information. And you know what? They give their time and effort to help people with questions about traveling, for FREE! Tricky train transfer, 2 countries, different passes? Michael from New York sends you a link. Boom! Problem solved. Travel info needed in the Netherlands? Andre L. Done. Need a great place to eat in Frankfurt? Jo's all about it. England? Nigel. Great beer hall in Stuttgart? Sarah. Padua, Verona, Vicenza problem? Rik. And the names could go on and on. Think about the time and effort that someone took, to try to map every restroom that was free or inexpensive to use, in Rome and Paris. And put it online for people to use for free. I had never heard of the Flavian Amphitheater outside of Naples in Pozzuoli.
Never knew it existed. Saw it on the helpline. Went there. One of the greatest things I have ever seen! And the best value of the majority of people posting here is, if they don't know, they say they don't know.

Posted by pat
victoria, Canada
7820 posts

I am going to buck the trend here, everyone clearly proclaiming they are not travel snobs,( not that I think anyone here is really) but I am going to be as blunt and honest in admitting this, as I can be blunt and honest on some other posts. I have on occaison talked to people whos travel seems to ONLY encompass repeat visits to "all inclusive" type resorts, usaully in Mexico or Jamaica and they admit to NEVER leaving the resort ( they don't have to, they don't want to, they are too nervous to, etc) .. and frankly I do judge that a bit. You all are better people then me if you don't find someones saying they have "seen" Mexico or whereever, but in reality they never leave the gated resort commmunites and the only locals they meet are employees..
Now I understand its their holiday and they should enjoy it as they see fit, but I do not consider them to have experienced or learned a darn thing about the country they have visited, so if they start off any conversation "well when we were in blah blah, the people like this " or whatever.. sorry if you stay in a gated resort ( think Negrils) you are not really "seeing" Jamaica, you may be enjoying a great beach vacation , but I wouldn't talk to you and ask you advice about the country for sure.