Travel Egos & Bragging rights

Chatting with a couple of friends on social media we were joking about dropping the pretence that we travel for personal growth but just for bragging rights. Shock, horror …….  it was quite tongue in cheek but after a little contemplation as with most things said in jest there seems a spark of truth at the root of the comment.

Does being a traveller score me extra points with the ladies or massage my ego a little? Not convinced about the first, if anybody can confirm it does please let me know, a few tips in dealing with the fairer sex are always welcome. To totally deny the second however would be a little dishonest, the reaction sometimes received when a fantastic destination is discussed can provide that ‘ten foot tall’ feeling for at least several minutes.

Twin sphinxes in Egypt near Luxor on Mallory on Travel, adventure, adventure travel, photography

Iconic sightseeing = epic bragging?

There are however some that take it the extreme, they are unavoidable when travelling they frequent every hostel and hotel in the known Universe. Let’s see if you recognise any of these characters:

Stamp collector

The most obvious braggers as they have more stamps than the Royal Mail and with passports potentially as thick as ‘War and Peace’.  Most are totally cool but some cannot resist passing on the little gem that they have visited more countries than the common cold.

Being proud of your travelling credentials its fine by me and destinations visited are obviously a common subject of conversation between travellers but repetitively informing others that the entire British Royal family has travelled less than they have does not seem very cool.

There is also something mildly disturbing about somebody that chooses to read their passport in the hostel communal areas every evening. I don’t care how many stamps it has, it cannot be that interesting get a good novel people!

One upmanship guy

Possibly the epitome of the competitive traveller; everything that you have experienced they have done bigger and better. Been to the Antarctic, they have spent two winters there, stood on top of Everest, they shinnied up the Tibetan flag or maybe you had the once in a lifetime experience of a flight in a jetfighter, they have orbited the Earth in a space shuttle!

Exaggeration possibly, but it does always amaze me sometimes why people feel the need to make travel into a competition. The consummate bragger.

La Koutoubia in Marrakech, in North African Morocco on Mallory on Travel, adventure, adventure travel, photography

It’s not always black and white

Got the t-shirt

A far more subtle way of bragging involves the blasé attitude that they’ve seen, all, done all, and the worn the t-shirt. This display of indifference is for me especially irksome; my own feelings when travelling to another destination or culture are akin to a young child in a sweet shop.

It is understandable that those that travelling for  extended periods maybe suffering a little ‘burn-out’. They can become indifferent to the sights and sounds of another culture, numbed to their experiences due to fatigue, loneliness or feelings of homesickness.

However the super cool dude explaining that Machu Picchu is not worth the walk, The Great Ocean Road is not so great and that the Amazon is just a big river has often only flown from their own country just yesterday.

I am at least hoping that this is actually just pretence and they do not really believe what they are saying. If they genuinely believe that then it is only possible to feel a little sorry for them. Travelling is all about excitement in a strange destination, experiencing the sights, sounds and smells of an alien and exotic culture or destination.

If this genuinely fails to excite anybody; a committed traveller or otherwise they have my sympathy.

Ultra Blogger

The blogger that spends most of their social time discussing their blog, however awesome it maybe is another form of bragger. There are other much less tiresome topics of conversation, feeling like you are constantly being networked when supposedly enjoying a meal, drink or guided tour can often result in an early return to the accommodation.

Having a cool site explained for ten minutes in the confines of the hostel is fine by me. However after spending half a day with the same person and their only topic of conversation has been monthly unique views, site traffic and their latest post on financing travels by selling jock straps for athletic Chihuahuas is likely to have me making my excuses and parting company.

Being proud of a site is completely justified, but as a wiser man than me once similarly quoted “beat me, starve me, rob me or ignore me just don’t bore me”.

Sweetshop in Montauban in the French Aveyron on Mallory on Travel, adventure, adventure travel, photography

Some people blur the truth

Know-all

The know-alls will definitely not have made it to reading this far; there is nothing they do not already know. When visiting a different destination it is often useful to spend a little time and money hiring the services of a guide. On at least several occasions the benefit was negated by a member of the group insisting on questioning almost everything the guide tells us, sometimes even correcting them.

Make no mistake if absolutely certain that a statement is inaccurate I would also probably say something discreetly to the guide and give them the chance to inform the group at a suitable point. However later research of these ‘corrections’  I have only ever found one occasion when the know-all was proved correct.

This is just their way of showing how knowledgeable and well-travelled they are, regardless of whether the facts are correct or not. In most cases the guides are reciting a well prepared narrative, the only time their information usually becomes a little ‘foggy’ is when asked a specific question. It is often embarrassing for them to admit they are unsure of the answer.

It is not only during guided tours know-alls spoil the enjoyment of others, espousing their ‘facts’ about a destination at almost every opportunity. They are often combine the characteristics of several kinds of bragger but the bottom-line is they are often quite clueless!

Billy Liars

There is not much to say about these braggers except they are the worst, their bragging is not even true. Any form of dishonesty is unpleasant; most also combine it with some other form of bragging. It often soon becomes obvious that the truth is at the very least being stretched as they will be vague about details and make claims that it was sometime ago explaining their woolliness.

There is not any place for those that feel it necessary to make up their travelling credentials. Personally I’ll find somebody else to chat to if lies are suspected.

Competition

Travelling is not a competition; it is rare that prizes are handed out to the most well-travelled or knowledgeable among us.

It is great if somebody has visited one hundred countries, better still if it’s a hundred cultures but when they constantly feel the need to remind everybody as if superior in some way, to be honest they become a bore! Travel rock stars never bore.

Enjoying travelling is be about doing just that, travelling for its own sake and for our own motives. Forget bragging rights and when you check the bags, check the ego too!

Do you have any horror stories about bragging travel companions? Share them in the comments.

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Comments 61

  1. Judy

    Iain,

    I enjoyed reading this article. As for help with the ladies, I don’t think you need any I am sure they are lining up at the door 😀 The second being bragging rights what is wrong with that, Nothing. Oh one more thing I like getting T-shirts when I travel and take lots of pictues so I can use them as bragging rights LOL Ok enough joking. I love travel like you do for the experience of it.

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      Iain

      Haha there is nothing wrong with a little bragging Judy it is those that don’t seem to do anything else that can take the fun out of it. Oh is that the door bell again, that queue must be getting wet in all the rain we’ve been having 😉

  2. Julianne

    I totally get what you’re saying.

    One time I turned a layover into an overnight. I left the airport, went into town, had dinner, went back to the airport, stayed in a hotel and got up super early the next morning, went back to the airport and continued my trip. All so I could say I had been to XYZ. I never made that mistake again. Not only was it financially costly, it was emotionally unfulfilling. Live and learn as they say.

    Cheers!
    J.

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      Iain

      ah Julianne that reminds me of the other kind of travelling bragger that counts passing through a country’s airport as actually visiting it even though they did not even step outside of the place! At least you did something there however limited it may have been, most have not. I don’t think you can count a place as having been visited if you have nothong to say about it. What do you think?

  3. Steve

    I find it’s generally better to keep quiet in the boring bragging competitions – especially when they start at “I’ve been to nearly 10 countries, on 3 continents”. Great – well done. These days I’m more interested in where people have lived for an extended period, even if it’s their hometown, as they’ll always have the better handle on the culture.

    BTW: Where is the seated sphinx photo?

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      Iain

      Sounds like a good plan if in doubt bail Steve, and agree with what you afre saying I came up with a similar quote recently – “Don’t tell me how many countries you have visted, tell me how many cultures you have experienced” I think it is a much better indicator of how experienced a traveller somebody is.

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      Iain

      Absolutely Brooke you prove our case it does not matter how many countries or even continents you have visited it is the quality of the experiences you have along the way that matter. Thank you for sharing.

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  4. John

    Iain, I think the first idea is not far off the mark. There are some massive egos in the travel blog world.
    Has the line between shameless self promotion and bragging has been blurred? Perhaps scope for another post by someone who blogs more about the process of blogging than travel, so probably not you.
    All I’ll say, is that in my humble (Billy Liar) opinion is that whenever I see someone going out of their way to point out how many stamps they have in their passport, I feel for them. You don’t need to travel far and wide to be a great human being. There is more satisfaction in a co-operative existence than in a travel pissing contest.

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      Iain

      It’s kind of cool when we actually agree John 🙂 though not totally sure why you don’t think I am suitable to write that post, it is not something I am considering but I cannot quite understand the reasoning behind it.

      Becoming the best human being is the best we can hope to be, and helping each other should definitely be an goal we all aim for.

      1. John

        Iain, the only reason I said that you might not cover that is that your blog seems to be aimed more at adventurers / prospective adventurers than other bloggers. I think Gary Arndt has the right idea. If he wants to talk about social media or anything non travel, he posts it in a separate blog.

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          Iain

          OMG I have enough problems with running this site without having another John, though hoping to produce more stuff of a ‘general’ travel theme on IBT site when it comes back up for air.

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  5. Charu

    Honestly, I’ve seen all of the above, in various situations and I am not particularly fond of the know it alls- you can’t 🙂 But it’s an interesting proposition. I have genuinely found that my “travels” have elicited genuine interest from my friends who want to learn more from other cultures and circumstances — it’s a true privilege to be able to travel, and if men want to win points from the “fairer sex” they would do well to tell tales and leave out the “bragging” 🙂

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      Iain

      Thank you Charu you are absolutely spot on with it being a privilege to be able to travel so many don’t get that chance. Of course our travels will get a great deal of interest from family and friends that is not bragging that is merely letting them in on your travels 🙂

  6. Brendan van Son

    Hahaha… great post. I think if I’m being honest I’ve been each and every one of these people above (or at least a combination of all of them) at some point

    And yes, I’ll take full bragging rights for starting this conversation on bragging rights. Another thing, I’ll tell you that being a travel writer/photographer does do well with the ladies. I’ve never had a better pick up line in my life… the only problem is that I get so deep into bragging about my travels that they fall asleep before I can finish my bedtime stories… so annoying.

    We would all be complete and utter liars if we said that we didn’t travel at least in small part to be able to brag about it. That doesn’t mean it is our main reason or our driving force for travel, but to deny our innate need as human beings to impress people would be a lie.

    I don’t travel so that I can pick up girls at the bar with my stories, brag to my friends, or make people jealous. In fact, in many ways travel has made me do the opposite: I can’t have a proper relationship or chat all too often with my friends because I’m busy making stories…

    Travel for whatever reason you need to, just do it. Because you’ll realize at the end that the reason we travel isn’t what’s really important. What is important is what we learn from our travels.

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      Iain

      You totally deserve the bragging rights to being the catalyst for the post Brendan, each and every one of these characters, now that is honesty!

      Again as I mentioned we all enjoy that feeling when somebody kind of treats us in awe when we mention some of the places we have travelled. Even more so when they discover we are travel writers etc and get to travel for a living.

      We all have egos, we probably wouldn’t have started a website about our travels otherwise.

    2. Cam

      I have a similiar midset. At one time or another, I can probably be any one of those characters.
      For me, it just comes down to fulfilling life dreams. Who doesn’t feel proud of reaching a remote land or achieving a personal milestone? And when you are proud, it’s only natural to want to share the experience with others (which is why people start blogs in the first place!).
      So then it really isn’t about the “character”, it’s more about the character’s audience. I could care less about someone’s comic book collection, but another comic book collector would have a much stronger reaction and opinion.

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        Iain

        Good point well presented Cam and trust me I have no problem with people being proud of their travels and achievements whatever they meaybe, why shouldn’t we all be proud of when we either visit a special place or achieve something special in itself. I just don’t feel there is any reason to allow it to become the sole subject of conversation, but hey you’re only as good as your last ‘bragging’ post or destination visited so whatever makes people happy works for me.

  7. Angeline

    I, like you, don’t understand the “Got the t-shirt” types. When I have any trip coming up I run amok reading about the place, making a few plans of where I want to explore at the destination, etc, etc., even if it’s to a place I’ve been before. And pretending to be bored about a place? So sad.

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      Iain

      It totally amazes me how people can be so blase Angeline, really if somebody cannot get excited about an exotic country or alien culture then seriously check the pulse!

  8. Jeske

    Love your article! I don’t like country-counters and stamp collectors either. I prefer to travel slow, real slow and make some new friends along the way. it is difficult to hear all the stories of where others have been, what they did and how adventurous it was, especially at the end of a trip or when you get back home. But remember there will always be people who’ve done it better & bolder than you have. It doesn’t make much sense to be jealous about it. The more you envy the unhappier you will be. And people who feel good about themselves are usually happier about their life and experiences and don’t waste much time looking at what others have.

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      Iain

      Very true Jeske no point comparing yourself to others live your own life and enjoy it. Its all about having your own great time thank you

  9. JD

    Numbers don’t impress me much. What does impress me is kindness and the way people treat others. But hey, I might be old fashion 😉
    Safe Travels!

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      Iain

      Hey JD nothing wrong with a little old fashioned values the trouble is too many people don’t bother the World would be a much better place it they did. If being ‘hip’ requires climbing over others to get something forget it, its just not worth it, Ultimately those that desire peace and a re respectful of others live much happier and more contented lives. Thanks for bringing it up.

  10. Shara KJ (skj traveler)

    Ha ha. This really made me laugh. So totally know all those people, and as I read I am secretly assessing myself hoping desperately I haven’t become one of them. The stamp collector section made me laugh hardest, because whenever I get my passport out for a new trip, I think I probably look through it at the past stamps, but this is in the privacy of my own home! 🙂

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      Iain

      I am glad you had a laugh Shara that was part of the aim, to entertain was the main goal of the post. There is nothing wrong with being proud of the stamps you have, we all have a little of that when we know we have just had an awesome stamp put in our passport, its human nature. Thanks for talking the time to comment.

  11. Ian

    Just got my business passport renewed so I can get extra stamps in one book YAAAA. id love to stop and argue the point but I am off to see if I can get them all for Africa before the names change and I have to start all over again.

    Travel for what ever reason you wish, but do travel.

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  12. Jenna

    I agree with what Brooke said about quality over quantity. I have not been to as many countries as many other travel bloggers, but I have lived in some of them and visited some over and over again. That’s quite different from just passing through (although that can be fun, too!). Like Brendan said, we all have our reasons for traveling the way we do, and we should focus on what we learn from it. I don’t have much patience for bragging or ego-driven conversation no matter what the topic is. Simplicity and kindness are more valuable. 🙂

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      Iain

      Thank you Jenna it is certainly the quality of the visit that matters more than the number of countries visited. The better that trip the more likely that you will want to return in the future and discover a little more about the destination too. There is not really any need to brag just chatting with people it usually becomes obvious how expereinced they are.

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  13. Priscilla

    Entertaining post! I have come across several of the idiots you refer to and I also brush them off as quickly as possible.
    I have lived in other countries and have visited several for business and pleasure. I enjoy reading travel blogs to inspire me to visit new places or just to live vicariously through them. I tend to enjoy the travel writers who tell their personal stories – hilarious mishaps and adventures or who give great travel tips. I avoid reading those where the goal is merely to brag or who scoff at those who don’t do “dangerous” things while traveling or who dismiss those of us who want to see the “must-sees” that typical tourists do. The typical tourist attractions tend to have significant historical value. Many armchair travelers will never get to those places, so including them and celebrating those places helps many who can’t afford to travel or are bound by the business of everyday obligations. Good travel writers inspire those who can’t not make fun of them!
    My blog started out being shared with just family and friends who always asked my advice about Paris – the city I have visited the most and it grew from there. It’s about experiencing all of Paris – the famous, the infamous and the everyday people watching. When someone takes the time to write and say they’ve found some good tip or laughed it makes my day! Egotistical? I hope not, I just want others to feel happy and enjoy themselves. Thanks for making me laugh today!
    Cheers!

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      Iain

      Thank you for taking the time to comment Priscilla I competely understand what you are saying there are too many that are happy to judge and disrespect others that they consider ‘inferior’ to them in someway whether travelling or in some other walk of life.

      It is good to hear how your site started, mine was exactly the same, writing and having a site is indeed about sharing and providing some entertainment. I am glad you had a laugh too.

  14. Paul Swider

    Like many things in life travel means and represents different things to different folks. I find your assumptions and comments to be as closed minded as the folks you are complaining about. I try to live life assuming everyone else is more enlightened than I am. This is proving difficult as I read the thread of comments.

    P

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      Iain

      I don’t really understand what you mean by us all being closed minded Paul or that you are obviously more enlightened than those commenting? Are you saying that you think it is fine for people to brag and lie about their travels and wear them like a badge of honour? Personally if that is all that people get out of travelling I feel a little sorry for them.

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      Iain

      Thanks Samuel for commenting and being honest also, yes the whatever you have done I have done it better brigade are esp[ecially irritating.

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  15. Colleen Kaleda

    I love reading about the ways other travel, as long as it’s not the “not all about me” type … The Eat, Pray, Love variety of so-called travel writing that reveals little about the culture or issues or environments of the places the person visited.
    As far as talking about where you’ve been if you’re well-traveled, I think some people will automatically think “whoa, they’re showing off” when in actuality you are just sharing your experiences. There’s not much one can do about that reaction.
    Not to brag (ha!) … but I recently wrote about taking the high-speed China Rail journey from Beijing to Lhasa on my Good Journeys blog. Usually most folks react to this with, “Wow, I’d love to do that!” That’s the reaction I love … getting folks thinking out of the box. Good Journeys: http://goodjourneys.wordpress.com

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      Iain

      I really agree with you Colleen there is nothing at all wrong with talking about your travels it is just when somebody seems to have no other topic of conversation and/or don’t even let others get a word in edgeways because they are too busy bragging about their own travels exculsively and often not interested and even dismissive of others.

      As I mentioned in the post we all enjoy the moment somebody reacts genuinely impressed by a story which we tell them about a destination or something we have experienced as a consequence of our travels.

  16. Kerri

    Met several people from each of these categories during my travels abroad and you are right, they do become a bore! Just have to take them with a (very large) pinch of salt! Still, you summed them up well and I enjoyed the post!

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      Iain

      That is the best way Kerri, let them get on with their form of travelling and let the rest of us enjoy our own 🙂 thanks for commenting.

  17. kittenesque kitty

    enjoyed reading this, are you a bragger then ? LOL – to brag or not to brag – that is the question

    I guess there are some that brag and some that just want to share the story

    thanks for enjoyable post

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  18. Nancy Myers

    But remember there will always be people who’ve done it better & bolder than you have. Thanks Samuel for commenting and being honest also, yes the whatever you have done I have done it better brigade are esp[ecially irritating.

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      Iain

      Thank you Nancy, so true if people want to waste their time bragging they will undoubtedly discover somebody that is has more to brag about!

  19. Amanda Halm

    I hate “been everywhere” guy. Like keeps saying, “I’ve been everywhere, so I know all about your culture.” This guy also answers questions for other people who are from the country involved in the discussion.

    No, you haven’t been everywhere. That’s the thing about travel. The more I do it, the bigger the world seems, the less I know. The less I brag, if I brag, which is rare.

    Telling people your travel stories is like telling someone about a dream. They weren’t there, so it’s probably not interesting. I go by the blog about it, but only talk about it if someone asks.

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      Iain

      Thanks for commenting Amanda, I think it is hard to like anybody that is self-indulgent and spends most of their time boasting rather than just enjoying the travelling experience. Blogging works, outright boasting doesn’t.

  20. Josh

    I talk about travelling nonstop when I’m back in England. Where I’ve been, where I’m going… I’m sure this counts as bragging and it probably annoys people but I can’t help it! I’d much rather talk about the resourceful children of Tanzania than who Tina went home with from the pub last Saturday!

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      Iain

      No worries Josh that does sound a much more interesting coversation topic and apparently bragging is now socially acceptable it even has a new name in the digital era its called smoasting 🙂

  21. Susan Hurley

    I love this! Incidentally, this post came up first when I googled “travel brag”. A friend of mine has no idea how off-putting he is when he goes on (and on and on!) about his “Bhutanese seat neighbor on the flight to Deradun” or whatever. (One of hundreds of real-life examples.) It’s a constant struggle, but I like the advice a coworker once gave me: Instead of being “interesting”, be “interested”. Of course, this advice backfires with the travel braggart!

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      Iain

      Thanks Susan I’m glad you enjoyed it and interesting to hear how you came across it. We all enjoy telling people about the great places we enjoy but when it becomes a ‘habit’ and seems to be their own topic of conversation it’s not fun anymore! As you say the worst part is that they’re seldom interested in anything you have to say. Oh well their loss!

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