When you write about personal growth and travel, you’re supposed to be pretty good at traveling, right? Being the worst traveler means losing credibility fast.
But wait! Before you flush my credibility down the toilet (figuratively, not literally), let’s agree that nobody’s perfect.
Even Mother Teresa couldn’t please everybody.
Now that we’ve agreed, you’re ready for my confession: I’m the worst traveler. Of course, if you’ve read Part 1 of my confession, you already know that I judge other travelers.
Well, surprise! I’m more flawed that you thought.
Here are 3 more reasons I’m the worst traveler:
- I insist on doing things myself…even when it doesn’t make sense
- I’m so wary of scams, I mistrust everyone
- I’m the one who always butts in on your conversation about traveling
It’s clear that I’ve got issues.
I can improve.
Going from the worst traveler to a good traveler (or at least a ‘meh’ traveler) has everything to do with getting over myself, and this confession is the first step.
By reading this, you’re helping me conquer my character flaws. Thanks!
I Need to do Things MY WAY
Heather’s Way: When I travel, I make a master plan in my head. When this plan goes into action, I want it to be the same as it was in my brain. No. Matter. What.
In a village on Lake Atitlan in Guatemala, resides a statue called Maximón. Who is Maximón, you ask? He’s is a wooden statue who stays in a different house every year, usually has a cigar sticking out of his immobile mouth, collecting offerings like rum and cigarettes. He’s quite a guy.
As soon as I got off the boat in Maximón’s village, a group of children accosted me calling “Maximón! Maximón!” I knew that if I paid them a few quetzals they’d show me where the statue was.
I pushed past them. I was going to find Maximón my way.
Well, ‘my way’ turned out to be trying to follow a different tourist, getting lost, and hopping into a tuk-tuk in exasperation. As my last resort (and in terrible Spanish), I asked to go to Maximón.
My visit with Maximón was brief, awkward, and wasn’t particularly enjoyable.
As the worst traveler ever, I had ignored the (child) guides that had conveniently met me at the boat. I had done things my way, and it turned out to be pretty crappy.
I’m Overly Mistrusting when I Travel
My Mom told me never to talk to strangers. Especially when their brother’s clothing store is having a sale and there’s a tuk-tuk right nearby that can take me there.
One of the things that scared me when I started to travel, was getting scammed. I read all about scams on the internet, and got so paranoid I convinced myself that as soon as my plane landed, I might as well hand over all my money to the first person I saw.
Avoiding scams is an honourable pursuit, but I tend to take it a little too far and mistrust everyone. Sure it’s helped me avoid scams, but sometimes it makes me feel like a total jerk.
I was at a park in Vietnam, gazing at the lily pads in a stone fountain when two Vietnamese girls approached me. They had big smiles and the way they came straight at me set my spidey sense a-tingling.
“Hello! We are two students and we were wondering if we could interview you to practice our English?” My eyes narrowed and my hand tightened on my shoulder bag. I waited a second before responding “Suuuuure…”
The two girls asked me what my favourite food was, what kind of music I liked, and what I liked about Vietnam. They wrote my answers down in a notepad.
The entire time we talked, I was waiting for them to mention a tailor shop, a jewelry store, a tour special, or a hostel. I got more and more tense.
To my surprise, they thanked me for the interview and gave me a gift of their appreciation: two tiny wooden dolls, a boy and a girl.
They walked away, and I looked at the dolls in my palm, feeling like the biggest jerk in the world. They really were students who wanted to practice English I had doubted them the entire time.
I’m the worst traveler, because I can’t tell when someone is being genuine.
I LOVE to Talk About Myself
You know when you’re listening to a conversation and you get the urge to say what’s on your mind? Like you’re going to explode if you don’t blurt it out right away? Just ignore it, the urge will go away. I promise.
It’s no surprise I love to talk about traveling. What might be surprising, is how often I interrupt your conversation about your latest vacation. Maybe it’s because I’ve been to every place you’ve been and want to bestow my learned wisdom upon you, or maybe it’s because I’m a braggy jackass (there’s a fine line).
This is one flaw that I’m actively working on correcting. I even wrote a post called Stop Being a Jerk: 5 Rules for Talking About Your Travel.
I’m learning to keep my mouth shut, but the truth is, it’s hard not to gush about something I love. I struggle with the fact that every conversation about travel isn’t about me. When I hear someone talking about a place I’ve been to, I want to talk about what I thought of it, what I did when I was there, who I met, what I ate, etc. etc.
Nobody wants to be “that person”, always butting into someone else’s conversation about travel. But if you don’t keep quiet every once in a while and let other people talk, you will be.
I’m the worst traveler, but I want to be a better traveler. I’ve got some mental garbage taking up space in my brain, and the more I learn about it the more I know I can overcome it.
There is hope for me.
I don’t have to change the world, I just have to change myself. Easy, right?
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