7 Tips on How to Be a Real Traveller

Are you sick of being wrongly classified as a tourist? Not getting the recognition for travelling that you feel you deserve? Study these tips on how to be a real traveller and all your dreams will come true.

Constantly one-up everyone you talk to

Is someone telling a boring story about how they went on a safari in Africa? This is your chance to tell them, and anyone within listening distance, about the time you also did one, but instead of doing it in a truck you walked, and instead of staying in a lodge you stayed in a hut in a tribal village, and instead of being yourself you mysteriously morphed into an African for 2 days.

ALWAYS eat local food

How can you really get to grips with the culture of a country if instead of eating local food for every single meal you eat McDonald’s once or twice? No, in order to really know a country and travel properly, you need to eat local EVERY time, no exceptions. Missing home and want something familiar? Suck it up and don’t go for that steak or hamburger, or you may as well just go home!

Become a global citizen

When aliens finally make contact with the human race we will all become global citizens. Why not get a jump on the crowd and abandon those superficial border ties, and claim to anyone who’ll listen that you are a citizen of the world. Just make sure you don’t go overboard and renounce your passport; your world will suddenly become a lot smaller.

Never count countries

So what if it only takes 5 minutes to count up the countries you’ve visited, actually doing it is completely uncool. Country counting means you are less of a traveller, because all you are doing is ticking countries off of a list. It’s also important to look down on anyone who knows how many countries they’ve been to, unless you go for the other extreme and start bragging about the 100s of countries you’ve visited – that also works.

Wear clothes that signify you’re a traveller (or try really hard to look like a local)

To be a real traveller it is important to completely trade in any of the style you had back home for the look of the road, which includes those baggy pants (I call them traveller pants, but I’ve heard them called fisherman’s pants). Another way is to try and do everything in your power NOT to look like a traveller. Wear what you think the locals wear, which I guess means cowboy hats in Texas and full mariachi outfits in Mexico.

Never carry a Lonely Planet

If you are a real traveller you shouldn’t need any help, besides, who wants to go to places everyone else goes to? It might mean missing out on a whole lot of cool stuff that you never knew existed, but it will give you a lot of bragging rights when you end up in that out of the way town (that Lonely Planet recommended anyway) under your own steam.

Don’t rush!

How can you really get to know a country if you only spend a week there? Sure, if you follow my previous tips you might be able to pull it off, but generally speaking you need to spend at least a month in each country. Try going to the message boards at or and asking for help with an itinerary. Unless you dedicate huge chunks of time to a certain place, people will abuse you for your suggestions and urge you to choose just 1 of the countries you were planning on going to. In order to be a real traveller you either need to stay in 1 or 2 places during your 1 week vacation or you just need to quit your job and dedicate your life to the road.

kids playing cricket in Ella, Sri Lanka

If you follow all of these tips you’ll be a real traveller in no time, but you’ll also become really pretentious and annoying to be around, so tread carefully!

Do you have any more tips on how to be a real traveller? Let me know!

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Jon Algie

A travel blogger from New Zealand who hates talking about himself in the third person and has no imagination when it comes to naming websites.
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  1. March 15, 2014 at 10:37 am — Reply

    How about just be yourself? I would rather be me than a real traveler.

    • March 16, 2014 at 1:26 am — Reply

      Yeah! That’s the point I was trying to make, I added the disclaimer in the title just to clear it up, I don’t want people thinking these are my actual views!

      Cheers for the comment!

  2. March 22, 2014 at 4:04 am — Reply

    LOVE the satire! Made me chuckle. I’m totally taking on board what you said about the Mariachi outfit in Mexico. I’m gonna take a photo and send it to you to prove I’m a real traveller! Haha. I do all of the tourist stuff sometimes and if I fancy pasta or a burger, so be it. Christmas Day in Potosi, Bolivia I had pizza because I’m hardcore! I might be a traveller and travel blogger but I’m still Kate 🙂

    • March 25, 2014 at 12:30 am — Reply

      Cheers Kate!You’ve committed to taking that photo now so I hope you don’t back out of that!!

  3. clay weir
    March 24, 2014 at 12:00 am — Reply

    i like this article…a funny take on those ‘traveller’ types who have seen and done it all, know better than everyone else and generally end up being more of a nuisance than a help!! good work and travel how u travel 🙂

    • March 25, 2014 at 12:32 am — Reply

      Haha yeah, luckily travelling doesn’t turn everyone like that, otherwise I’d be doing something else.

  4. Aaron
    March 24, 2014 at 8:31 am — Reply

    Fantastic! love this, I have heard the one-up so many times.

    • March 25, 2014 at 12:33 am — Reply

      I don’t think people realise they are doing it half the time, still though, not an excuse!

  5. March 25, 2014 at 9:01 pm — Reply

    Ah yes! I loved this.

    There are so many people out there who love to tell you that you are not a traveler because you didn’t do (insert whatever) in the month you spent traveling.

    I think some people are trying to be helpful when they offer unsolicited advice. It kind of irks me but I smile and say “thank you” and then continue on doing what I had planned to do on my own anyway.

    • March 25, 2014 at 9:31 pm — Reply

      Haha, good idea, although some people do actually have some good advice, I guess part of it depends on how they deliver that advice.

  6. March 29, 2014 at 3:33 am — Reply

    BE REAL, have fun and live. Great tips.

  7. April 3, 2014 at 10:09 pm — Reply

    Always name drop country names when in a normal conversation:

    “That time I was at Argentina…”
    “Well, I see your point but when I visited Russia…”
    “You think you have it bad? When I was in Ethiopia…”

    • April 5, 2014 at 12:20 am — Reply

      Haha yeah, that’s another classic real traveller move.

  8. April 5, 2014 at 8:19 am — Reply

    Funny post. I guess it just goes to show that sometimes we can take this travel thing too seriously sometimes. You want to get to know the people, the food, the culture and sometimes you don’t have time and just want to relax on a break from work and not too fussed about all of the above…The key thing is to travel as much as you can when you can and break the ” real traveller” rules and just enjoy your experience where ever you happen to travel to.

    • April 5, 2014 at 11:38 pm — Reply

      Exactly, if you wanna just laze around on a beach drinking cocktails then that’s what you should do!

  9. Mandie
    April 5, 2014 at 9:07 am — Reply

    I actually laughed out loud at this! I have definitely heard this advice doled out seriously. Love the satire 🙂

  10. April 5, 2014 at 9:45 am — Reply

    haha great post. I particularly despise when “travellers” brag about how awesome they are because they’ve been to 70 countries and counting, sold all their crap and slept in a drain for a month and got beat up by a monkey. We all travel differently and there’s nothing wrong with being a tourist or a traveller, it’s just the way you approach it and your attitude along the way that matters. Travel the way you want and there’s no reason to judge others for their travel style either!

    • April 5, 2014 at 11:40 pm — Reply

      Haha, to be honest, if I got beaten up by a monkey I’d be bragging about it!

      • April 18, 2014 at 3:12 am — Reply

        Me too. 🙂

  11. April 5, 2014 at 8:19 pm — Reply

    I just been asked what I was reading – apparently I had a big grin on my face!

    I love the comment about the ‘Lonely Planet’ Guide. I am not ashamed to say that before any trip I have a full compliment of guide books and resources that I look through and have been known to also read, I know big error, some of them in public.

    We do have some friends who refuse to be seen with a guide book in hand but will swat up in the evenings in the confines of a room to make them sound all knowledgeable the following day when we go out exploring.

    I do love the idea of sometimes just wandering and seeing where I end up, but I don’t want to miss the great landmarks that have made a country special either. Great post! 🙂

    • April 5, 2014 at 11:43 pm — Reply

      You are right with the guidebooks – there are whole areas of countries that I probably wouldn’t have bothered going to if I didn’t read about it in Lonely Planet. While I don’t rely on them for restaurants etc, they are really useful for getting to know the breadth of a country.

  12. April 7, 2014 at 10:26 am — Reply

    Jon-love your tongue and cheek post. It does seem like it’s getting to be a competition in some circles. Lucky for me I’m older than most of the travel bloggers, so my peers are always amazed by where i’ve been.

    • April 9, 2014 at 2:02 pm — Reply

      Thanks Alison!I find the older travellers that I’ve met don’t feel the need to see travel as a competition as much as the younger ones.

  13. April 8, 2014 at 11:12 pm — Reply

    Imagine being a, mere, daytripper in a niche full of world travelers? My countries amount to 4, including my own…lol! Fun post, Jon 🙂

    • April 9, 2014 at 2:03 pm — Reply

      Haha, daytripping is just as good as any other form of travel!

  14. April 11, 2014 at 7:40 am — Reply

    Heartily agree with “don’t rush”. I see too many people trying to cram it all in… the whole of the UK in a week or whatever. No… don’t do that! Spend a week or two in one specific place… whilst you might spread yourself as far and wide geographically, you’ll see and learn far more by really getting to know a place.

    • April 11, 2014 at 1:03 pm — Reply

      I agree, some people don’t have the luxury of a long trip though, so there is nothing wrong with hitting a few different places and maybe returning again to spend a bit longer.

  15. April 14, 2014 at 6:00 am — Reply

    Love this! So many “travelers” have to get all high and mighty about what they have done and that the only right way to travel is their way. I like to do things my own way, one uppers be damned! 🙂

    • April 14, 2014 at 11:24 pm — Reply

      Me too! I’ll never let anyone tell me how I should or shouldn’t be travelling.

  16. April 18, 2014 at 3:21 am — Reply

    A peeve of mine are those who complain about a place’s lack of “authenticity”. Whatever that even means these days.

    • April 18, 2014 at 9:19 pm — Reply

      Yeah I hate that. If tourists have been there at all it isn’t really “authentic” anymore anyway.

  17. May 1, 2014 at 6:16 am — Reply

    Hahaha!!! I love this! We all move in our own ways, and I wish others would see it that way. I’m glad you do! Have you seen How I Met Your Mother? This post reminded me a lot of something Ted Mosby would advocate and actually mean it.

    • May 1, 2014 at 7:17 am — Reply

      Cheers Morgan! I don’t think I’ve ever watched a whole episode but I think I know who you mean, the one that always seems to be moaning right haha?

  18. Maria
    May 14, 2014 at 10:01 pm — Reply

    I love this! It’s important to remember NOT to take ourselves so damn seriously!!

  19. May 15, 2014 at 1:20 am — Reply

    Oh boy, this post was too funny. Thanks for your expert advice and for the laugh! From now on, I’ll be sure to look down on people who know how many countries they’ve been to since it’s so important and all…

    • May 17, 2014 at 9:05 am — Reply

      Cheers, seems like it’s important to look down on people for whatever reason you can find haha.

  20. May 17, 2014 at 8:09 am — Reply

    Enjoyed your post and got a laugh. I think it is just to enjoy the experience to the fullest wherever and however.

    • May 17, 2014 at 9:06 am — Reply

      Cheers Lyn, that’s the way it should be!

  21. May 19, 2014 at 1:28 pm — Reply

    Ha! Oh, if I had a dollar for every person I’ve talked to who is a “citizen from the world” and isn’t from anywhere. Yeah, I’m sure you were born in a vacuum with no geographical location.

    • May 27, 2014 at 10:40 am — Reply

      Haha, some people think they are pretty magical because they travel, so you never know…

  22. wesley
    June 10, 2014 at 6:27 pm — Reply

    Hahaha!!! I love this!

  23. Emily
    July 1, 2014 at 6:21 am — Reply

    So, so, so funny! I get so sick of traveller snobs looking down on me if I go into a “gringo bar” once in a while to speak to other people in the same language as me because, heaven forbid, I got tired of struggling to speak Spanish to locals who have no interest in making friends with a foreigner! Very funny post!

    • July 5, 2014 at 1:48 am — Reply

      Haha, but then you aren’t getting a real local experience, I’m very disappointed with your travelling style Emily!!

  24. July 1, 2014 at 9:29 am — Reply

    Is satire dead? I can’t believe that you had to put a disclaimer in the title!!

    • July 5, 2014 at 1:50 am — Reply

      I know! I guess a lot of people just read titles and assume the worst! Travel blogs aren’t really known for their satire either unfortunately.

  25. July 1, 2014 at 9:43 am — Reply

    Great post for a laugh! There is no one way to travel. It’s you’re trip, enjoy it how you want.

  26. July 26, 2014 at 6:08 pm — Reply

    Hi Jon,
    I laughed as I read this article, then read it again and laughed some more! I love your witty take on the holier than thou attitude of some travellers. My favourite part of this absolutely brilliant article is “… mysteriously morphed into an African for two days”.
    I have to say you’re truly gifted when it comes to satire.
    Cheers! 🙂

    • July 30, 2014 at 5:55 pm — Reply

      Thanks Natasha, glad you liked it – got a few more similar posts planned!

  27. July 26, 2014 at 7:19 pm — Reply

    Don’t forget to take all those travel-related Facebook quizzes to show everyone how cool you are!

    • July 30, 2014 at 5:57 pm — Reply

      Haha, is that why no one thinks I’m cool? I better start doing them…

  28. Tiana
    August 1, 2014 at 5:49 pm — Reply

    Hahaha! This is so great. Thank you for the laugh 🙂

  29. August 5, 2014 at 9:06 pm — Reply

    I hate the traveler vs. tourist debate, thanks for the humorous spin!

    • September 25, 2014 at 11:25 pm — Reply

      It’s an annoying one huh!

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