Long term travellers are magical creatures with a different hierarchy of needs than most. We require a passport in the same way others require a regular paycheck and a head over their heads.
We are usually a tolerant breed, but there are a few questions that are guaranteed to – for various reasons – get on our nerves. Would you like to antagonise a traveller? Here are seven things you should make sure to ask us. If that fails – which I assure you it will not – you could always just burn our passport. I dare you.
1. How many countries have you been to?
It all depends on the context – this question can be very flattering when posed by an awe-struck acquaintance, because it gives us free licence to show off. Trouble usually comes when a group of competitive travellers come together and try to one up each other. The conversation usually goes a little like this:
Traveller: “So, how many countries have you been to?”
Me: “Around twenty I think.”
Traveller: “Oh, you’ve been to twenty countries? That’s sweet. I’ve lived in three hundred.”
Me: “I’m pretty sure there are less than three hundred countries on this planet.”
Traveller: “Yeah, I know. But I’ve been to Mars, too. Gosh, you’re such a beginner, Sabina.”
Seriously, you guys. Can it all just stop? I’ve had this same exact conversation so many times, I don’t think I can do it ever again.
2. Which place is your favourite?
3. Where do you see yourself in five years?
I’m a traveller! I don’t know where I’m going to be in the next five hours. In fact, I’m not even sure where I am as we speak. I don’t read Thai, my Google Maps app isn’t working and this berry I’ve just eaten may or may not be poisonous. Seriously, can somebody help me?
4. Aren’t you getting too old for this?
After meeting more eighty-year-old adventurers and twentysomething homebodies than I can count, I’ve realised that age is just a number and that this applies tenfold when it comes to travel. Wanderlust is like herpes, because – whether you want it or not – that shit is for life. It doesn’t matter if your legs are crisscrossed with varicose veins and your boobs sag to your knees – your brain will never be too old to plan a vacation.
5. Don’t you know your friends and family miss you?
This question is annoying because we know the answer all too well. We’ve missed birthdays, weddings and graduations aplenty – and sometimes we really hate ourselves for it. We need travel to survive, but sometimes we wonder if we are being selfish by fulfilling our dreams. Whenever someone asks us this question, it brings all our insecurities to the surface and makes us weep a little on the inside.
6. When will you get a real job?
Teaching English in South East Asia? A real job. Wiping hostel toilets? A real job. Full-time travel blogging? A real job. Need I continue? All jobs are equally real, regardless of the amount written on our respective paychecks.
7. When will you settle down?
Don’t you get it yet? The answer is, always has and always will be NEVER! We might get married, buy a house and commit to a full-time job, but we cannot change what we are – which is travellers.So, please ask these questions with caution – or not at all – unless you want to make a traveller sad/angry/unacceptably emotional.
What do you think, travellers? Do you agree with me or am I just being super sensitive? Are there any questions you absolutely hate being asked?