Humblebrag – Dealing with Travel Envy

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The other day, I was discussing recent vacations with a few colleagues over lunch. At one point I mentioned a boat trip that we took, “while we were on a family safari in Nepal.” There was silence for a few seconds, then someone said, “that phrase must win everytime, unless you’re talking to someone who’s been to the moon.” I thought about that reaction for a few days. Had I been trying to “win” the conversation? Had I unwittingly fostered travel envy? Was I humblebragging?

It’s easy to say that I don’t keep score or try to “win” by having the most extravagant travel stories. It’s harder to examine this claim from a detached position and determine if that’s really true. Here are a few things to consider when you are faced with travel envy.

Travel Envy – Made Worse by Social Media

Safeguard Travel DocumentsSocial media sites are full of carefully curated photos and posts about sun-drenched beaches and pristine hiking trails. Everyone tries to put his best foot forward and show the glamorous side of life. This is even more pronounced with travel writing, where one’s job is to highlight reasons to travel and the best places to go.

This is going to inspire some people and frustrate others. A few might even get depressed, worried about how they can’t live the lives that they see portrayed online. You can’t control how other people feel. You can control what you put out into the world and your motives for doing so.

Examine Your Motives for Travel

Why do you travel? What drives you? Make an honest assessment of why you travel. For me, that’s an easy question to answer. I’ve always been driven by a sense of wanderlust and a desire to see the world. I realize it’s impossible to see all of the world. One could spend a lifetime in one country, whether it’s Germany or India, and still not see everything.

Because of this, it’s pointless to keep score. There is no way to “win” this competition because it’s not a competition. But that doesn’t make me want to stay home and not travel. It makes me joyous to know that there’s always going to be some new place or experience to look forward to. Where, how, and how long to travel are highly personalized questions.

Examine Your Motives for Discussing Travel

Why do you discuss your travels? In the instance that I mentioned at the beginning of this post, we were discussing things we’ve done on vacation that were risky. The boat trip definitely fit that description. So upon reflection, I still don’t think my comment was a #humblebrag.

It is useful, however, to think about those comments before you say them. Ask yourself, “am I trying to top the last thing that was said?” If so, maybe you just keep listening instead.

Looking back, there are times that I have bragged about travel, like the Twitter post below.

This conversation served to remind me to check my motives.

Have a Sense of Humor

No matter what you say, there’s always a chance that someone will be offended or envious. As I noted before, you’re not responsible for the reactions of others. You can help defuse any tension, however, with a good sense of humor or a self-deprecating remark. In my case, it’s far cheaper to get to Katmandu than Kansas given that I live in Singapore. I explained as much, and that went a long way towards defusing the awkward moment.

Have you encountered travel envy? How did you deal with it?

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