Travel wankers, the scourge of super-budget hostels around the world. Check into any $4 hostel in Bangkok and some ‘super woke’ douchebag will be playing the bongos and offering to give you a reiki healing.
Those who have embarked on the painfully middle-class endeavour of ‘finding yourself’, by spending a disgusting amount of money dragging a 27-kilo backpack around the globe, will be familiar with this type of ‘citizen of the world’.
In my many years of travel, i’ve come across many travel wankers. You can easily spot one in the wild.
Look out for dope harem pants, lack of basic hygiene and an insistence that eschewing your iPhone leads to a divine state of being.
Everyone knows that travel wankers are at their absolute worst when in the company of fellow travel wankers.
The conversation quickly defaults into oneupmanship on who has travelled to the most ‘off the beaten track’ destinations and who is the most enlighted?
My friends and I even came up with a point system to evaluate a person’s level of “travel wankerness”, during our travels in South East Asia.
The specific scoring system has been lost in a haze of Lambrini and cheap rum over the years.
I’m pretty sure though, to reach the maximum of level 6, you had to have harem trousers, henna tattoos, claim ‘spiritual awakening’ and carry around a handpainted ukulele.
From my years of awarding travel wanker points, i’ve come up with a list of the most common travel wanker attributes, so that you can avoid the dark side. Put the Cold Brew Coffee down darlings and read on.
Resist the urge to dress like a douchebag
For some peculiar reason upon arriving in Thailand/South America/India, my fellow travellers always appear to bin their Jack Wills hoodies in favour of the down and out, elephant trouser, wanker look.
I’m not sure what part of the human psyche deems it appropriate to immediately ditch all personal hygiene standards and dress exclusively in harem trousers, after 2 days in Thailand?
Do you dress like an eccentric, trust fund kid on speed back home?
I highly doubt you rocked up to the internship at Daddy’s office sporting dodgy henna tattoos and harem pants. Sort your shit out.
Don’t insist that people read your travel blog
I mean Jesus of the Christ. Can you imagine anything more mundane than reading your thoughts on ‘how Bali is just so mainstream now’?
Thanks to technology, any backpacker with a sporadic wifi signal in a mud hut can now post utter drivel about their ‘adventures so far’.
Here is some free advice for all you starry-eyed, ‘nomads’. Doing an organised bus tour of Western Europe is about as adventurous as having a rummage around in your own pants.
I get it, it’s all very special to you and you alone. Maybe you should consider jotting it down in your, ‘handmade journal’, instead of inflicting your prose on the wider world?
Trust me, even your parents think your musings are tedious and how they ever spawned such a cretin? Bill Bryson, you ain’t.
Pretend you can speak Spanish
There’s always one bro in every travel group, who, when faced with a surly waitress in Bogotá throws a smug look of ‘I’ve got this’.
They then confidently order the wrong dishes for everyone, proudly using the three Spanish words they have memorised. One of those words being ‘telephone’.
You can spot a language chancer not by them clutching a phrasebook. Rather by the fact that they’ve learnt one word of the language and insist on shouting it at every local person they meet.
Look, i’m not saying don’t have a bash at the basics. It’s polite to thank people in their own language, rather than just waving your hands and yelling “7 beers”, at an unimpressed barman.
Maybe also resist the urge to say, “actually it’s pronounced Barthelona”, after only spending 3 days on a stag do there.
Don’t play the most travelled game
Travelling alone means sometimes you have to converse with other humans to maintain a sense of normality.
When conversing with other ‘citizen of the worlds’, the backpacker code dictates that you have to one-up your fellow traveller.
Your experience has got to somehow be more life-affirming, shit your soul out better, or you have failed at travelling.
If it’s not better, what’s the point in any of this? What am I doing here? Why would anyone stay in a $2 a night, shit hole hostel, surrounded by public school wanktards on a “gap yar”? The mind boggles.
No one cares about how you trekked across Cambodia with just $5 and a ‘wing and a prayer’.
Trust me, everyone is more concerned with where their next, ill-advised dorm room hook-up is coming from? So pipe down about your new-found enlightenment yeah?
Understand the locals don’t need you to save them
For those of us on the path less backpacked, it’s easy to listen to a U2 album and develop a Bono complex when on a slum tour.
When on the poverty tourism route, posing with starving locals for your photography project about their ‘plight’, is completely self-serving. It’s also nauseatingly ‘white saviour’ behaviour. Turns out, you can’t eat pity.
He’s some free advice if you want to help these people, donate to a charity that works with these communities.
Largely so people who actually know what they are doing can make a difference. ‘Tik Tok Influencer’ is not actually a transferable skill.
Stick to what you are best at sweetheart, which is losing every single wet t-shirt competition on the East Coast of Australia and crying yourself into a wine-induced coma of shame.
Realise that ‘Eat Pray Love’ is a novel, not a lifestyle
Is there anything more delightful than having a hostel drinking game rudely interrupted by a ‘spiritual healer?
Chloe, [now known as Indigo Rain], will inevitably be wearing a tye-dye Muumuu, in full ‘Shakra mode’ and wants you to hold her rose quartz to ‘release negative traits from your life’.
She’ll take brief pauses from sipping tea made from bark, to elaborate on how her epiphany may have occurred around the time she dropped acid on a Goa beach.
Look, I appreciate after a silent meditation retreat you might be keen to give your fellow travellers a ‘crystal healing’.
You really do need to find other ways of addressing your complete lack of self-worth though.
Put down the incense and try actually having a conversation with your fellow travellers. This is preferable to treating the hostel common room as a personal ‘chanting meditation’ area.
Know that Begpacking is never the answer
It should be obvious, but please don’t create a Kickstarter to fund your ‘spiritual journey’ through Indonesia.
Many a wannabe begpacker have faced the wrath of the internet by asking their social media followers to finance their travels.
If you don’t want to be doxxed online, I would personally avoid asking friends and family back home to finance your acid trips and yoga retreats.
It also goes without saying that if you run out of money when abroad, please don’t resort to panhandling to “fund my travel dream”.
The epitome of ‘entitled millennial’, is western backpackers asking people poorer than them to fund their comfortable, bourgeois lifestyle.
There is nothing romantic about travelling the world utterly broke with nothing but a pan flute and misplaced faith in ‘the kindness of strangers’.
Your hostel dorm mates are not therapists
Wellness blogs have brainwashed us all that we need to ‘share our experiences’ and god forbid, our ‘feelings’, with other humans. Jesus wept.
This is especially prevalent when backpacking, as you often find yourself sharing your personal space with unkempt hipsters on a ‘spiritual voyage’.
Just because we’re bunking up together in a run-down hostel, does not mean I’m your therapist.
Sharing your feelings is often oversold as something that’s going to solve all your problems if you just release them?
I feel about releasing feelings, in the same way that I do about farts. It might be alright, or you could end up shitting yourself?
Look, I don’t know ‘what it all means’. I’m avoiding life responsibilities in a dosshouse hostel too. It’s hardly like i’ve got my shit together.
All I know I just know that I need you to dial down the whining so I can get back to staring at the wall, contemplating how the actual christ it came to this?
No one wants to hear you play the ukulele
One of the many travel life lessons i’ve acquired is that ukulele performances are rarely welcomed.
I’ve found on my travels that in every ‘chill-out area’ in hostels around the world, there’s a bro in harem pants, who needs you to listen to him play the ukulele.
Using a hand-painted guitar as a replacement for a personality can be tempting when we are ‘finding ourselves’ on the road.
It is vitally important, however, to resist that urge when travelling and indeed, in life.
Look, I appreciate that strumming Jack Johnson whilst wearing a rainbow headband might seem like a short cut to friendship?
Honestly, though, everyone just thinks you are a massive bellend trying desperately to establish hostel dominance.
Are you a super woke traveller?
Elephant trousers, crystal healings, spiritual awakenings and ukulele performances. These are the things most likely to mark you out as a super woke travel wanker on a spiritual mission.
Now that you know the signs you can dial down your level of travel douchebag and make travelling a more pleasant experience for those trapped in a 28-bed hostel with you.
Have you ever come across a travel wanker? How did you cope with them? Let me know in the comments below.
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