Tips for Talking About Your Travels Without Sounding Like a Show-Off

If you have just returned from a massive travel adventure you are probably excited to tell your friends and family about all the amazing experiences you have just had.

Whether you were volunteering at an orphanage in Cambodia, working at a surfing school in Australia or teaching skiing in the mountains of Canada – you’ve probably had the time of your life and you have so many great stories to tell.

However, it’s important to know how to share your stories without getting on their nerves. We’ve all met that person who rambles on non-stop about their travels in a pretentious way and ends up annoying everyone around them.

Perhaps they are the luxury travel braggart who just returned from an ultra pampered trip and they insist on describing every detail of their idyllic experience until you are green with envy. Or maybe they are the holier than thou Gap Year participant who has “had 10 years worth of experiences” within the last 6 months that were so meaningful and profound that they just can’t even handle mainstream culture any more?

Kelly and Lee in Rome
Kelly and Lee in Rome

The truth is – no matter how amazing your travels were, no one wants to talk to someone who is only focused on themselves. Here are some tips for talking about your travels so that you don’t become an annoying cliche:

  • Don’t bring it up all the time. You don’t want to be the person who starts every story with, “This one time in Thailand…” It gets old quick.
  • Gauge your listener’s interest. It’s hard to believe, because your experience was so meaningful to you, but others might not really want to hear about it in great detail. Not everyone you speak to is interested in travel to the extent that you are, so if they ask you can give them a brief update on where you have been. “I’ve just returned from backpacking in Southeast Asia for 6 months”. If they start asking questions you can share more info, but if they don’t seem intrigued to learn more just move along with the conversation naturally.
  • Don’t count countries and brag about your tally. It doesn’t matter if you have been to 20, 50 or 100 countries – what matters is what you did there. Focus on experiences rather than numbers.
  • Don’t tell people, “You had to be there.” It sounds a bit pretentious and it makes people feel left out, like laughing at an inside joke without explaining it. If you want to tell them about something you experienced, do your best to explain it or don’t bring it up.
"Oh my god, it was like... so amazing I can't even describe it!"
“This one time when I was in Vietnam… Oh my god, it was like… so amazing I can’t even describe it!”
  • Ask others what they have been up to recently as well. Don’t assume that their lives have been boring because they have stayed in your home town. They might have gotten a promotion, had a baby or started a new hobby – so listen to their stories as well. Remember that experiences are rich and meaningful wherever you are.
  • Choose the most entertaining and relevant stories. You don’t have to tell everyone all the tiny details of your trip, most of the day to day moments such as sitting on buses and buying food from the supermarket won’t be that interesting.
  • Save some stories for later. You don’t have to tell everyone everything as soon as you return, as they are likely to be overwhelmed with this barrage of information about your trip. Instead, give them the summary then wait for a natural moment to reveal each anecdote when it suits the conversation.

If you can be humble with your travel stories, you will avoid being the cliche travel bragger who likes to show off at every opportunity about everywhere they have been. This way, people who are interested in your travels will ask you about them and you can share your stories in a meaningful way with a receptive audience.

What do you think? How do you talk about your travels? Do you find it annoying when others travel brag? Let us know what you think in the comments. 

Kelly Dunning

A Canadian freelance writer with a love of art, culture, literature and adventure, Kelly loves exploring foreign lands and expressing her experiences through the power of the written word.

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  1. Hi, I work for the Cdn government in the unit that manages International Experience Canada. We’re interested in Engaging Canadians to take advantage of the reciprocal agreements we have with 32 countries to Work and Travel Abroad. I loved your three articles: Feb 24, 2014; Jan 6, 2014; Nov 1, 2013. Bravo.

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