I’ll never forget the most horrible traveler I’ve ever met. He was skulking around the Full Moon Party in Koh Phangan, a sort of haven for obnoxious party animals, but this guy rose above the rest. It wasn’t just his blindly neon outfits or his constant inebriation that made him stand out- it was the incredible rudeness and entitlement that oozed from everything he did. He was rude to the locals (he called the hostel owner’s baby a monkey!) and inconsiderate to his fellow travelers. His antics culminated in him peeing in the corner of our dorm room one night. I don’t think anyone was disappointed to see him slink off the next morning. There’s just something about South East Asia that attracts people with all the worst reasons for traveling. For the most part I don’t really care WHY people travel, just that they DO. Yet, there are some really terrible reasons to travel, and if you recognize yourself in these, you’d be better off staying home:
“The World is my Night Club”
The guy I mentioned above should NOT have been traveling. He should have stayed home and learned some manners before inflicting himself on the world. He didn’t care much where he was, he just wanted to have a good time and if he could do that on the cheap down in Thailand, then all the better. You don’t have to travel solely for culture, and it’s fine to party it up overseas, but at a bare minimum you should show some respect for the country you are visiting. The world is not your no-consequence-playground.
“I Want an Exotic Girlfriend”
You’ll find these guys hanging out at expat bars in across South East Asia with a very pretty, usually much younger, local lady (or ladyboy if they’re not careful) glued to their side. They’ve figured out that supply-side economics is on their side and over here they can attract women who wouldn’t look twice at them at home. C’mon guys, if nobody wants to date you back at home, please don’t inflict yourself on the locals somewhere else. Plus, don’t you want to be more than someone’s pocketbook with legs?
“I’m Running Away”
Probably not from the law (although I’m sure it happens), but from problems at home. One girl I met in Vietnam was in debt up to her ears back in the UK, and was simply puttering around Asia until her money ran out. “And then?” she shrugged and downed another shot of rice wine. The problem with this method is that it simply doesn’t work. You can run from your problems, you can put oceans between you and the issues, but you can’t escape them.
“I Don’t Want to Grow Up”
Okay Peter Pan. I know being part of the real world is scary, with all of its pressures and responsibilities. I don’t blame you for wanting to defer that as long as possible. The thing is, you end up growing up anyways- you can’t escape the real world forever. Eventually you’re just the old guy at the bar with no self-awareness.
“I Want to Get it Out of the Way”
Every once in awhile I stumble across one of these naïve career-oriented souls. “I’m just getting my travel out of the way now, then I’ll go back home and get a real job,” they say earnestly over Beer Laos. Well, good luck with that. The thing they haven’t bargained for is that travel is insanely addictive. It’s not something you just “get out of your system” before you go back to real life. The more you see, the more you discover there is to see. You’ve opened a Pandora’s Box of wanderlust and going back to work won’t just close it up.
Which brings me back to the actual good reasons to travel. There are far more of them then there are bad ones: curiosity, a restless heart, a love for the world and everything in it. A view of travel as a challenge to be discovered and explored and not a panacea or convenient escape from acting like a real human being. The reasons to travel are as broad as the sun – and the rewards are too.
Just don’t be a jerk.
Stephanie is a girl who can’t sit still. Since graduating she has spent her time either roaming the earth or saving up for her next trip, until finally quitting the rat race for good to become a full time writer, blogger and owner of Twenty-Something Travel.