posted by Colm Hanratty | 3 Comments
People love to talk about their travels. It's that simple. Ask a colleague or friend for travel advice in the middle of a mundane Tuesday afternoon and they'll burst into life. And backpackers more than any other type of traveller love to pass on tips and stories and advice that they've picked up around the world.
Over the last 12 months I've travelled quite a lot making city guide videos, podcasts and more for the site. Along the way I've stayed in quite a few hostels, and there's one thing I noticed in each one - a serious amount of backpackers are prone to talking about their travels without listening to others about theirs.
Ok, picture the scene...you're in the common room in a hostel in, let's say, Prague. Beside you are two guys talking about their travels - John, a 23 year old guy from Melbourne, and Andy, a 26 year old guy from London. You're ear wigging the conversation which goes as follows:
John: "So where were you before here?" (note here that it is John instigating the conversation, asking Andy about his travels)
Andy: "Just came from Vienna."
John: "Ah, Vienna, cool city. Not as good as Berlin though."
And so John continues to talk about his travels, even though he was the one who asked the question in the first place. At some stage during the conversation then Andy will do his utmost to get the ball back in his court, relating any knowledge he has of any of the places John mentions back to him.
This is the perfect example of a backpacker not being genuinely interested in somebody else's travels. Instead they're asking somebody else about where they've been solely because they want to talk about their own adventures.
I've heard this conversation countless times in hostels around the world. It maddens me as, essentially, it's a 'battle of the travels' – who's been to the most places and who has the most tips. But the thing is, if backpackers continue to do this nobody will pick up any tips.
So budget travellers, a word of advice from somebody who thrives on tips from people he meets on the road - next time you get into a conversation with a fellow backpacker in a hostel's kitchen or common room, do yourself a favour...listen! You might pick up a great tip, you might not. But you won’t know unless you hear what they have to say.