As someone who makes a living writing about travel, I recognize the immense privileges I have. I try not to take my opportunities for granted, nor hold other travelers up to the impossible standards set by being a travel writer. I’ve even promised myself and my best friends that if I ever become an honest-to-god travel snob, I’ll stop doing this work.
No one wants to be a travel snob, not really. Folks who catch the travel bug but won’t shut up about their fancy hotel or traveling abroad are the worst. Not everyone wants to listen to you yack nonstop about how many places you’ve been. As someone who gets awkward when people ask for travel stories, I have a radar for travel snobs.
Trust that travel snobbery is a one-way ticket to us not being friends anymore. When’s your next flight? Can I drive you to the airport?
You don’t need to eat gold foil-clad tiramisu to be a world traveler. It’s tasty for sure, just not a requirement. Nor is forcing yourself to stick to street food because “it’s what the locals do.”
So, are you concerned that you’re the travel snob in your group of friends? Read on! But know that if you’re already wondering, chances are you aren’t one.
What We Cover
- Telltale Signs You’re a Travel Snob
- 1. You don’t listen to other people’s travel stories
- 2. Assuming you’re an expert on another culture
- 3. You judge people for not traveling for two weeks at a time
- 4. Looking down on anyone who loves iconic places
- 5. You don’t think people have traveled without going abroad
- 6. Visiting just one country on a single trip is no longer acceptable
- 7. Making condescending comments on travel gear
- 8. Judging other people’s food choices
- 9. Making yourself the destination expert
- 10. You’re a “different” kind of tourist
- 11. You think expensive = more important
- 12. You think expensive = less authentic
- 13. You think there is nothing more to learn
- 14. If you ever say, “you aren’t cultured enough”
- 15. You never shut up about where you’ve been
Telltale Signs You’re a Travel Snob
1. You don’t listen to other people’s travel stories
A big red flag for finding a travel snob is to see how often someone is trying to one-up other travelers’ stories. When talking to other people about traveling, a travel snob will repeatedly interrupt the story being told or wait for a moment to insert their experiences. Guess what, Magellan, your vacation isn’t any better than anyone else’s.
See Related: Reasons Why Traveling Is Important
2. Assuming you’re an expert on another culture
Experiencing new cultures is one of the most beautiful parts of travel. Not everyone will catch on to a new culture immediately, but only travel snobs will consider themselves experts on that foreign culture. Even if you live somewhere new and experience everyday life there, it doesn’t mean you are the monolith of that culture.
3. You judge people for not traveling for two weeks at a time
Travel snobs love to make a big deal about how long other people visit other countries. They think that if people spend less than two weeks somewhere, they don’t really experience it.
That is part of travel elitism at its finest. What’s not cool is downplaying the time any traveler spends anywhere — all experiences are worth the story.
Travel for travel’s sake. I mean, what are weekend getaways for?
4. Looking down on anyone who loves iconic places
I won’t lie; I wasn’t brought to tears when I saw the Eiffel Tower. Honestly, I don’t ever need to see it again. But do I judge other travelers who do? Absolutely not.
We’ll never totally agree on what is worth being dubbed an awesome world icon. Even so, it’s not a bad thing that we can’t all agree — that’s what makes life interesting.
5. You don’t think people have traveled without going abroad
Something that I’ve learned from visiting other countries and making new friends is that a lot of folks don’t realize just how massive the United States is. Did you know most Americans don’t have a passport? Over ten percent of Americans never travel beyond their home state. And so what?
Our country is so massive that you could experience more environmental and aesthetic variety seeing half the United States than from a single trip to other parts of the world. But travel snobs will stop listening once you say you didn’t need a passport. Any travel broadens the mind.
6. Visiting just one country on a single trip is no longer acceptable
A downside to travel bloggers or writers is that their experiences can set an unreasonable expectation for your own. Travel blogs and sites can receive comped or heavily discounted trips for the potential for coverage — making some trips significantly less expensive or totally free. Let’s be honest; I couldn’t have afforded six weeks in Europe a few summers ago without collaborating for editorial consideration.
There’s also nothing wrong with just traveling to one place. Not every trip must be a plane, train, or automobile expedition. Whatever happened to planning a dream voyage to one fantastic destination?
See Related: The Ultimate Backpacking Through Europe Itinerary
7. Making condescending comments on travel gear
A travel snob will look at your well-worn luggage with a condescending smirk or even a mean comment. It doesn’t matter what someone’s luggage looks like. It doesn’t have to be Louis Vuitton to get the job done.
Anyone who is rude about someone else’s travel gear should get a clue. One doesn’t need the newest, trendiest backpack to enjoy the world.
More than that, people don’t need to purchase unnecessary things just because someone else tries to make them feel bad about themselves. Save that money for new experiences over new accessories!
Remember, being snobby and condescending isn’t the same as being helpful and courteous. If you see someone’s gear is compromised, say something. After all, you’d want someone to let you know if your case is about to burst or there’s a crack in your climbing helmet.
See Related: Essential Adventure Travel Gear For Your Next Trip
8. Judging other people’s food choices
Anytime a travel snob comes around, it makes fellow travelers uneasy — especially during mealtime. Snobs will always say they know best (sometimes better than local people) about the cuisine of the area.
They’ll judge you for eating trendy treats even if those foods are still expanding your comfort zone. They often have little thought for the dietary needs of others.
Real travel lovers recognize that part of the adventure is sampling the food. Sure, eating something like a trdelník or chimney cake in Czechia might be trendy, but it’s also a local favorite, and they’re also delicious. What’s the point of judging what others eat? Leave me and my beloved trdelník alone, okay?!
9. Making yourself the destination expert
Any friends and family who have gone with me to Disney World know I’m an obnoxious person full of trivia. But the difference between myself and a travel snob is that I openly admit my faults.
When a snob designates themself as the destination expert, they become the trip dictator. They believe their way around is the best, that their favorite hotel is the only one that exists, and they can make the trip much harder.
You can be well-versed or even be an expert in a place that isn’t your home country. Travel snobs, however, need to be more understanding of the fact that their expertise may not be just what everyone needs — and that’s okay.
10. You’re a “different” kind of tourist
Sorry, hipsters, this is a bit in your lane. Travel snobs are people who never shut up about spending time at spots that are off-the-beaten-track.
Being a tourist doesn’t only mean one thing. It’s an amalgamation of amazing adventures, learning about off-beat hutong eateries in Beijing and seeing what adorable Starbucks merch they have in Hong Kong.
It’s okay to be the tourist who hits all of the big attractions, just as it’s okay to be the one who exclusively sees the lesser-known places. One is not better than the other.
And no, you’re not just a “traveler” and not a “tourist.” The two are not mutually exclusive. Unless you are paying taxes at your new home away from home, sorry boo, you’re a tourist.
11. You think expensive = more important
This notion that we’re all competing with one another as travelers feeds into the notion of travel elitism. Not every trip needs to involve a $1000/night five-star hotel.
And one-upping someone else’s travel experiences is just plain rude. A real travel lover is interested in how another person experiences the world, not the receipt total.
12. You think expensive = less authentic
What about if the boot is on the other foot? Travel snobs come in all shapes and sizes.
I’m sure you’ve heard something like, “Oh, you haven’t really visited the Amazon rainforest until you’ve camped there for a week” or “You just can’t see Denali on a flightseeing tour instead of hiking around the park.”
Puh-lease. Just because you splurge a bit on your experience doesn’t make the experience any less real or authentic. There is no one right or wrong way to travel.
Out of the almost 5 million visitors to Yellowstone National Park each year, only a small percentage travel more than a half-mile from their car. And that’s okay!
13. You think there is nothing more to learn
Here’s the thing about different cultures: there is always more to learn. You could return to the same country, visit a new area every time, every year for 30 years, and learn something new each time.
A down-to-earth world traveler knows there is always something new. Call yourself an expert once you’ve lived there for 30 years.
14. If you ever say, “you aren’t cultured enough”
A travel snob would abhor that sentiment. They’re less interested in letting people enjoy what they like and more interested in taking joy from someone’s fantastic perspective.
Snobs will say that if you aren’t overwhelmed upon seeing something like the Eiffel Tower, “you aren’t cultured enough to understand its significance.” Barf.
15. You never shut up about where you’ve been
A travel snob will not understand why anyone else can’t just visit a dozen European countries at a time. For snobs, common sense goes out the window.
They can lose sight of why they travel in the first place in exchange for a great post on social media bragging about their multi-country excursion. And yes, they will openly judge you for your single trip to Panamá last year right before they tell you again about their adventures.