Published Work Tips, Advice, and Everything Else

8 reasons a work exchange is the best way to travel

“#3. You’ll learn something new: You are guaranteed to pick up a new skill with each new place you volunteer.”

Source: 8 reasons a work exchange is the best way to travel


1. Accommodation is going to be cheaper for you.

Now, I’ve only used Workaway and HelpX as a source for my work exchanges. (Something about the different website layouts for each country’s WWOOF page is displeasing to my eye, and I don’t really care for children.) But each host only expected me to work an average of five hours a day, five days a week. In exchange, I’d get a bed to sleep in and at least breakfast, sometimes lunch or dinner. Not a bad deal, right?

I can’t imagine the amount of money I saved by working for my bed. Last year, I worked for two weeks at a bed and breakfast on Santa Marianita beach outside of Manta in Ecuador, a location I already wanted to visit for its sick kite surfing culture. If I had stayed in the dorm rooms for $15 per night, I’d have spent $210, not to mention the cost of ordering off their delicious breakfast menu every morning. Instead, I saved an average of $300, which I spent on kite surfing lessons, and got to feast on breakfast burritos and stuffed french toast every morning, prepared by the hotel’s charming Ecuadorean cook, Martiza.

2. It’s the easiest way to immerse yourself in the local culture.

Most hosts ask their volunteers to stay and work for an average of one month, sometimes more and sometimes less. In this time, you’re not merely stopping in a city for a weekend, seeing the touristy sites, and going on your merry way. You can truly embrace “slow travel” because you have the time and the resources to really get to know the place and the people who live in it full time.

I did my first work exchange at a hostel in Catania, Sicily. I stayed for two months, which was a little more than I needed at the time, but there were other volunteers who had been there for nearly a year. One British girl, George, in particular was practically Sicilian by the time she left, complete with big hand gestures, homemade pasta and recommending horse meat as a delicacy.

By staying in Catania for an extended period of time and not just passing through, I felt that I was able to assimilate a little more into the Sicilian culture, and therefore, adopt a little of that culture into myself. In general, I learned to slow my roll a little bit. I’d wake up in the morning and stroll to the bakery for some fresh bread to put on the table for the guests. The baker would help me practice my Italian by asking me if I’d like a little something sweet for myself, to which I’d demurely refuse until she asked if I was sure, and then I’d say, forse solo uno.

After the bakery, I’d stop at the fruit stand on the street, buy whatever the young man working there recommended, refuse his marriage proposals and head back up to the kitchen to lay out my purchases and make espressos for the guests.

I even spent enough time there that the manager, Rosario, had his mother come in and teach me how to make pasta a la Norma and a traditional tomato sauce, with just a touch of heat. I’d spend my days buying the freshest tomatoes and seafood from the outdoor market, stirring a simmering pot of sauce or soup that I’d serve to the guests for dinner, and putting laundry out on the line to dry, all the while staring off into the sea and listening to the hostel’s neighbor practice his cello for the Catania orchestra.

3. You’ll learn something new.

You are guaranteed to pick up a new skill with each new place you volunteer. Whether it’s learning everything there is about horse maintenance on a Midwestern ranch or excavating an archaeological monument in Siberia, you will walk away with more than what you arrived with.

If you’re like me, and basically the entire American millennial population, you’re not quite sure what career path you should be on. And that’s fine, work exchanges are a great way to try out different jobs and explore your interests.

It’s always been a far off dream of mine to open my own hostel, so that’s why I gravitate toward hostel work. As I write this, I’m volunteering at my third hostel, ITH Mountain Adventure Lodge in Big Bear, California. Due to my past experience working in hostels coupled with my general hospitality expertise, the managers here trust me to basically run the place while they’re away. I understand the flow of this industry, and now I’m learning how to use different booking software. Not to mention they have me splitting wood and teaching guests archery. I had no idea how to do either of those things until I got here. And I got to learn all these rugged and useful skills for free.

Last year, I volunteered with a family in the jungle in Peru. The other volunteers and I tended to their land, planting crops, feeding chickens and contributing to the compost pile. But mainly, we spent a ton of time digging an irrigation ditch that would hopefully redirect the heavy rainfall that completely flooded their house the year before. I learned a lot about the struggles of the residents of the Peruvian Amazon and got to contribute to the family’s well being. Not to mention how cool it was to have monkeys for neighbors, the Tambopata River as my personal bath, and fresh papaya to pick off the trees for breakfast.

4. Even though it is work, you can really just take a break.

If you’ve been moving non-stop around the world, living out of your backpack and in a new hostel every third night, you’ll definitely enjoy a chance to stop and rest for a while. It will feel good to have a purpose again other than just going and going, not to mention the wonderful feeling of being able to unpack without knowing that you’ll immediately have to roll and stuff everything into your bag again and hoist it on your shoulders within a few days.

As I travel, I always know that work exchanges are an option for when I’m just too tired to go on. Here at my current Workaway, a nice Swiss boy has just arrived. He’s been traveling around the States for a little over two months and hasn’t stayed in one city for more than five days. For the first two days of his arrival here, he couldn’t stop exclaiming how happy he is to get back to a routine that includes a normal work, exercise and eating schedule. He now has the responsibility of splitting wood and he says he couldn’t be happier.

And guess what, you can leave again whenever you want.

5. Work exchanges are also a really good way to start your trip.

Maybe you’ve never traveled solo before, or maybe you haven’t been to this particular part of the world before. Doing a quick work exchange will help you acclimate to being in a new environment.

When I graduated university two years ago and decided that I wanted to travel, I wasn’t quite sure how to go about it. So I checked out Workaway’s website to see what opportunities different countries had to offer. I had been to Italy before, but only for ten days. If you’ve been to Italy, you’ll know that ten days isn’t nearly enough time. I could spend my life in that gorgeous country getting fat off pasta. So when I saw a post about a unique hostel where volunteers live with the guests and contribute to the running of the place, I thought it would be a great way to start my travels. I would know exactly where I was going and have a support system while away from home.

6. There’s going to be people from all over the world working alongside you.

Even if you’re the only volunteer at a farm in Nowheresville, Albania, you’ll still meet new people who will contribute to your sense of self. At hostels, obviously, the amount of people you meet is much more varied. I have so enjoyed comparing small traditions with people I’ve met from other countries, sharing stories about our different holiday experiences or hearing about what they eat for meals in their own countries. It never gets old when my German friend, Lara, complains about the amount of meat we eat in America and that we don’t know how to make bread.

Also, the people you meet can provide unique and valuable information for your future travels. They can recommend a great hostel or restaurant where they just were in Vietnam, or give you detailed notes about what you must see while you’re traveling the Rhine Valley, photos and all.

7. You can learn a new language, or practice a second or third language.

Many work exchange programs are specific to language exchange. If you search the Au Pair websites, you’ll see that many European families want to host native English speakers to speak to their children in English. At the same time, you’ll definitely get a chance to practice your French.

I loved volunteering in South America because I am passionate about becoming fluent in Spanish. The language is so beautiful and so useful to know. Speaking Spanish has helped me both abroad and back home. In fact, one of the reasons my work exchange in Ecuador hired me was because they desperately needed a translator. I’m not fluent, but dealing with vendors and guests forced me to practice my Spanish and even learn some new words, rather than just getting by on smiles and hand gestures.

8. You can use your host as a home base while you work on other important things.

Every morning, one of my fellow volunteers in California, Kaja, from Poland, wakes up to Skype with clients from home. She has her own marketing business which funds her travels, and she can keep up with her workload online.

That’s the great thing about these work exchanges, or at least the ones I have engaged in. Your free time is your free time. After my shift is up, or when I have a day off, I take time to write or edit photos and videos. I am currently enrolled in a few online classes that I feel I can dedicate more time to here than if I were back home, chasing money and keeping up with my social life. I feel as though I am living in some world that is separate from the real world, a world where I have the time and the freedom to explore any interest and dedicate time to it. 

#tbt Published Work Spain

6 American habits I lost in Madrid

“Like many Americans, I was accustomed to going home when the bars close at 2am. This, however, is the hour that partygoers in Madrid turn up.”

Source: 6 American habits I lost in Madrid

1. I stopped counting the minutes.

Even though Madrid is far from the coast, the Madrileños live an easy Mediterranean lifestyle.

My first impulse was to use these free siesta hours to run errands. I was immediately frustrated to find nunca de las tiendas open. I couldn’t buy a piece of fruit or get a haircut to save my life. All of a sudden, between 2 and 5, I was living in a ghost town. I had to realize that Madrid isn’t like America — where the consumer is catered to at nearly every hour. Madrileños like to take the time to enjoy their lives, and soon I was doing the same.

Instead of getting things done, I’d have a caña or even a jarra of Mahou or Estrella with my long lunch. I’d sit outside that 100 Montaditos in Gran Vía and watch tourists and prostitutes bustle around the shops. I’d walk along the Manzanares River with a pan de chocolate fresh from the pastelería. Or, if I was out dancing at Kapital the night before, I’d just lay down and close my eyes on the sofa. The office wasn’t going anywhere. Que será, será.

2. My stomach’s internal clock got a new schedule.

A typical American might have breakfast around 8 am, lunch around 12 and dinner around 6. It took my stomach a long time to get over this routine, for while I still had breakfast at the same time, lunch didn’t happen until 3 or 4, and dinner was never served until at least 9 or 10. This was an even bigger culture shock than the language.

My confusion deepened when my host mom fed me chocolate chip cookies with my coffee for breakfast, un desayuno dulce, and omelettes, or tortillas, for dinner.

Once I got a handle on my stomach’s desires, I realized that the wait for a late lunch is well worth it. Comida is the biggest meal of the day, and I loved that nobody judged me for washing it down with a glass or two of vino tinto. In fact, restaurants encourage a little mid day drink to go along with your relaxed lunch.

And it was never hard to find a place to eat. All I had to do was walk around the thin, grey-brick laid streets of Sol or Cortes to find a plethora of cafes offering up a Menú del Día. Each pre-fixe menu included a first course, second course, postre and a drink for the low price of 9 euro. I enjoyed starting off with a paella de la casa or gazpacho Andalúz, then feasting on bacalao al horno or albóndigas en salsa. Oh, and the pan! Spaniards rarely sit through a meal without a basket of crusty white bread.

3. I no longer turnt down at 2am.

Ernest Hemingway writes in Death in the Afternoon that “to go to bed at night in Madrid marks you as a little queer…Nobody goes to bed in Madrid until they have killed the night.”

Like many Americans, I was accustomed to going home when the bars close at 2am. This, however, is the hour that partygoers in Madrid turn up. The clubs in this party city stay bumping until the metro reopens at 6 am. To assimilate into this most serious of nightlifes, I had to learn to take my time and pace myself.

My favorite form of pacing was a tapear, to go out for tapas. You play the game by eating a little of the free swag that comes with your drink, and then drinking your drink in turn. Sip, bite. Bite, sip. By doing this, I was able to remain in a constant state of tipsy until I made it to the club of my choice (Often Joy Eslava, sometimes MoonDance).

Aside from gallivanting in the neighborhood La Latina and on Calle Cava Baja for the best tapas bars, I frequented El Mercado de San Miguel for a classy, one-stop shop for all the small plates I could eat. Where Americans have perfected the art of binge drinking via shots, funneling beers and keg stands, the Spaniards are slightly more sophisticated drinkers who see a night out on the town as a marathon, not a sprint.

4. Entertaining at home became somewhat taboo.

Even in the dead of winter, Madrileños socialize outside the house. Back home, it’s perfectly normal to have friends over for dinner or a party. But in Madrid, they consider staying in to be a sign of economic hardship, of succumbing to la crisis. If there was ever a weekend night that I didn’t go out, my host mom would immediately ask, “¿Qué pasa? ¿Estás enferma?

No one is expected to spend money when they go out. They’re just expected to leave the house and meet up with friends or family, often in public squares like Tribunal, Alonso Martínez or Puerta del Sol. It wasn’t so bad, especially when I had a bottle to share with my buddies and when vendors were selling cans of Mahou beer for 1 euro. While street drinking, referred to colloquially as botellón, is considered illegal, the law is rarely enforced as this activity is as popular a pregame in Madrid as tailgating is in America.

And in case you haven’t picked up on this point yet, Madrileños like to spend time outside late at night, and I’m not just talking about the party animals. I remember being shocked at first to see young children roaming the streets with their parents and giggling at street performers in Plaza Mayor or on Calle Montera at 11 at night. Shouldn’t they be in bed? Why are their parents exposing them to the debauchery of Madrid nightlife? Oh my god, do you think that kid knows that he’s playing right next to a gaggle of prostitutes?

And me, double fisting a bottle of ginevra and Fanta Limón by the fountain, wondering if I should hide my street drinking for their sake. Understandably, due to the brutally hot Madrid summers, nights are the best time to be outside. Presumably, everyone is well rested from their siesta already. But give these social butterflies a terraza on which to drink a cocktail and smoke cigarillos any day of the year, and they will be truly happy.

5. I stopped shaking hands and arriving early.

This is the land where you might grasp a new friend’s hand only to pull them close to you and plant a kiss on each cheek, first the right, then the left. Instead of saying, “Nice to meet you,” or “Mucho gusto,” the elegant Spaniards would say, “Encantada” or “Enchanted.” I loved it, and still say it when I meet new Spanish-speakers, which leaves people wondering if I’m from Argentina because my accent is half proper Castellano and half standard Latin American. I also learned that, even though Spaniards aren’t very punctual people, they see arriving late as just as big an insult as arriving early. I made it a point to arrive exactly on time for things like interviews or meetings.

Before my first interview for an internship at a local magazine, I arrived early and waited nervously outside the building for my 11am meeting. At 10:57, I began to make my way into the office, all the while checking my watch to make sure I was arriving exactly on time. Within seconds of opening the door to the office, my interviewer walked toward me with open arms, clearly gearing up for that still somewhat awkward cheek kiss. No handshakes in this oficina, just some warm Spanish amor.

6. I learned that sleeping in on a Sunday was a waste of time.

El Rastro, Madrid’s famous open-air flea market in La Latina, happens only on Sundays. It begins in the Plaza de Cascorro near the La Latina metro station and follows the declining street of La Ribera de Curtidores, branching out into the side streets, until its end at Ronda de Toledo. The entire neighborhood is packed to near bursting with vendors selling everything from Spanish flag underwear and artisan jewelry, to colorful scarves and Indian tapestries, to clay sangria pitchers and your basic nuts and bolts. Literally, anything I needed, didn’t need, or maybe would need in the future (except fresh produce) for home, leisure or comfort, I found at el Rastro and haggled over the price.

Sure, I didn’t need to go shopping every Domingo, but going to el Rastro was a social affair, and it was a great way to start my Sundays in Madrid, which were usually anything but lazy. Even if I stayed up all night partying, I’d still make an effort to be up early enough to make it to el Rastro, which opened at 8 and started to close at 1 — even though it’s meant to stay open until 3.

There was no better cure for my hangovers than chugging a café con leche and meandering through the many, many stalls at the market. And it wasn’t like I couldn’t go back to sleep after shopping — that’s what siestas are for. 

Boston Published Work

19 things Bostonians always have to explain to out-of-towners

“A liquor store is a “packie,” “jimmies” are sprinkles, a “spa” is a deli, “frappes” are milkshakes and it’s a “rotary” not a roundabout. Got it?”

Source: 19 things Bostonians always have to explain to out-of-towners

1. Yeah, that’s just a Colonial guy in breeches and spatterdashes. Ignore him.

They re-enact the Boston Tea Party, or something. It’s a tourist thing to do. Like Duck Tours and whale watching.

2. Our gods are The Sox, The Pats, the Bruins and the Celtics.

You must never blaspheme the gods in front of a Boston native. Praise the demi-gods Tom Brady, Robert Paxton Gronkowski aka “Gronk” and David Ortiz aka “Big Papi.”

3. A liquor store is a ‘packie,’ ‘jimmies’ are sprinkles, a ‘spa’ is a deli, ‘frappes’ are milkshakes and it’s a ‘rotary’ not a roundabout. Got it?

After I run this packie, I’ll take the second exit off the rotary to get a frappe with jimmies at Town Spa.

4. We nevah pronounce ouwah ah’s. (Translation: We never pronounce our R’s)

You’ve probably heard the famous phrase before. All tourists have fun with it. Let’s say it together, shall we? Pahk the cah in Hahvahd Yahd. Not so hard, right? Don’t say it to a local.

5. Good luck parking your car in Harvard Yard, or anywhere for that matter.

Meter maids are on the prowl, all the time. You parked at 5:59 when the meter expires at 6? $25 to the City of Boston. If you drove in, leave your car at the hotel and take the T. Definitely don’t try to drive in if you’re attempting to go to a Red Sox game. You will not succeed in finding parking, unless you have a large disposable income.

6. Yes, the Fens and Revere Beach have nice scenic views, but you better beware of needles.

Massachusetts has a serious opiate addiction problem. It’s very sad. Also beware the junkies; you’ll know them when you see them, and you will see them.

7. If we dig out a space on the street for our car, you can’t legally park there.

Of course, we may have to mark our territory with some chairs or trash cans or a 36-pack of Natty Lite.

8. ‘Dunks’ is slang for Dunkin Donuts, and it is the elixir of life.

Munchkins from Dunks are a perfect treat to bring to work, a party, a museum event, a tailgate, your cousin’s wake, etc. Boston runs on Dunkin.

9. The T is our subway, metro, whatever.

It generally stand for ‘transit’ or ‘transportation’ and is part of the larger MBTA, Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority. It’s not very fast, especially on the Green Line that runs through universities like Boston University, Northeastern, Boston College, etc. But remember, patience is a virtue.

10. Neil Diamond’s ‘Sweet Caroline’ is our anthem.

And our anthem. It’s played at every game, at the bottom of the eighth inning. It’s also not uncommon for a drunk guy, or kid (pronounced “khed,” though not actually a drunk child), to start up a chant on the T and get the whole car, including the driver, happily singing along.

11. “’Yankees Suck’ is our other anthem.

And it’s chanted at every sporting event. We’re confident that Jesus hates the Yankees, too.

12. Timberland boots are acceptable footwear no matter the season.

Also, “nice” cargo shorts are acceptable formal attire.

13. Every winter, we inform everyone that we’re moving south.

But we don’t. And every summer, we stick around to enjoy Martha’s Vineyard and “The Cape” aka Cape Cod.

14. We use ‘wicked’ as an adverb, both ironically and seriously.

Went to Kelly’s Roast Beef last night and got some chicken fingahs. It was wicked pissah.

15. In addition to Kelly’s Roast Beef for late-night bites, Santarpio’s Pizza in East Boston (Eastie) and Union Oyster House in Government Center are our Boston go-tos.

Don’t forget the D’Angelo’s chain for a variety of hot and cold subs. Yes, subs. Not heroes, not grinders, not even sandwiches.

16. Only we can pronounce our towns correctly.

Gloucester. Worcester. Cochituate. Leominster. Leicester. Haverhill. Spoiler alert! Nothing is pronounced phonetically.

17. Anyone from Mass is going to tell you that these towns are all ‘half an hour away and two towns over.’

We aren’t always lying. Unless the town is in Western Mass. Might as well be its own state, the Yankee lovers.

18. Yes, we are aggressive drivers. But we don’t care if you call us a ‘Mass-hole.’

Mass-holes drive fast, recklessly and cut other drivers off with wanton abandon, so much so that MassDOT, the Department of Transportation, has put signs on the highway that say “USE YAH BLINKAH.”

19. And our pedestrians are not much nicer.

So don’t say hi to strangers on the street. It’s creepy and may get you beat up. Mass-holes love a good fight. 

Boston Published Work

31 signs you grew up drinking in Boston

“You’ve enjoyed a “Hobo Special” of a 40 and a hot dog at Bukowski Tavern. The one in Inman Square. You know the Back Bay one is for rich yuppies.”

Source: 31 signs you grew up drinking in Boston

1. You’ve sat on the curb with your heels on your lap to eat street meat from the stand near Sissy K’s.

2. You’ll always drink Harpoon and Jack’s Abbey over Samuel Adams because you know that the Boston Lager isn’t actually brewed in Boston.

3. You know that to get served after 2am, all you have to do is go to a late-night restaurant in Chinatown and order a pot of “cold tea.” (Whether they give you beer or white wine is up to the proprietor.)

4. You suspect the bouncer at T’s still has the fake ID he confiscated from you when you were 19.

5. You can remember the days when you spent your weekends covered in PBR and highlighter ink from a BU or MIT frat party.

6. You’ve stolen salt and pepper shakers from the South Street diner at 4am But then felt intensely ashamed about it the next morning because that waiter was really good-natured about how drunk you were.

7. You’ve also, obviously, drunkenly ridden that mechanical pony outside of South Street at 5am.

8. You’ve been kicked out of White Horse for falling down too much.

9. When you go out of town and order a ‘Bacahdi and coke,’ you have to force yourself to pronounce the “R” because out-of-state bartenders never seem to know what you want.

10. You never forget your ID because all these students gallivanting around means you’ll be showing ID until you’re 75.

11. However you remember the days when a fake got you into Daisy Buchanan’s — easily.

12. You’ve felt the wrath of doing way too many pickleback shots at The Draft.

13. And if they ran out of pickle juice, you know what way too many Fireball shots can do to you.

14. You’ve ended up at JJ Foley’s after hours and mysteriously spent your entire paycheck.

15. You know that whenever you go to pay in Boston, the bartender’s going to ask if you’d like to pay cash or just “run the cahd.”

16. You’ve tasted the glory of adding Fireball to your Downeast Cider. (Also: Guinness and Downeast Cider, tell me that’s not good.)

17. You know that 90s night at Common Ground is the only time you can enjoy the Spice Girls without shame.

18. You’ll never say no to a pitcher of PBR. Obviously.

19. You’ve been genuinely impressed by the karaoke singers at Hong Kong, and equally impressed with the scorpion bowls and teriyaki sticks that go around like hot dogs at a Red Sox game.

20. You’ve been ripped off paying for booze at Fenway and the Garden — because it’s just that important to drink at sporting events.

21. You or someone you know has gotten into a fight at Coogan’s. But, hey, they have dollar drafts so you’ll always be back.

22. You’ve played “beirut” or “root,” never beer pong.

23. You’re used to “happy hour” specials being more about food specials than drink specials.

24. You’ve ordered yourself at least three $1 burgers from the Avenue. (Now $2 burgers…)

25. You either regularly order a Tito’s and soda at Tia’s, or you absolutely hate the people who order a Tito’s and soda at Tia’s.

26. You know that nothing goes better with your fried clams and Martha’s Vineyard oysters than a cold Cisco Grey Lady.

27. Your friends keep telling you that Quincy Center has some awesome bars, but since they shut down Marina Bay, you have no real desire to take the Red Line out that far.

28. You’ve enjoyed a “Hobo Special” of a 40 and a hot dog at Bukowski Tavern. The one in Inman Square. You know the Back Bay one is for rich yuppies.

29. Your fanciest moment was when you got dressed up to sip craft cocktails and listen to live jazz at the Beehive.

30. Since the T stops running before last call, you’ve decided to just sober up with a walk around the Commons and wait until it reopens, rather than pay for a cab.

31. You’ve been honestly insulted by the waiters at Dick’s Last Resort

Published Work

You’re a travel snob. Here’s how I know.

Are you a travel snob? Here’s one way to tell says author Rebecca Bellan: “You don’t want to hang out with people from your own country while abroad.”

Source: You’re a travel snob. Here’s how I know.

You don’t want to hang out with people from your own country while abroad.

You’re not the only American who has ever left the country, so kindly get over yourself. When I first started traveling, it seemed natural to get excited over meeting someone else from the US and trying to bond. However, I noticed a pattern emerging.

Maybe I just didn’t look like a nice person, but I felt as though many Americans went out of their way to avoid befriending me or any other star-spangled traveler. It’s as if they wanted to surround themselves with interesting foreigners so they themselves could be thought of as interesting foreigners, sans competition.

You don’t listen to other people’s travel stories.

Perhaps you feel a certain jealousy that someone has had an experience that you haven’t yet, so you barely wait for them to finish what they were saying before you self-righteously proclaim that you yourself had an even more intense, life-changing journey, probably on a voluntour trip that you paid a ton of money to go on.

You insist that your way of traveling is the only way.

I met a guy (American, 30-years old) in Poland who had been a ‘gypsy’ for years, he says, paying his way around the world with his music. *Insert eye-roll here.*

We volunteered together on an English language program with some Polish business people. I was chatting with the girl next to me about how I might like to try one of those EF College Break tours when I went home the following month, in case it wasn’t feasible for me to immediately continue the nomad lifestyle. I thought it might be nice to have someone else do all the planning and research for me for a change. So what?

Well, this young man stood up in his seat, turned around and proceeded to tell me that guided tours shouldn’t be considered traveling. If I wanted to travel the “real” way, I should travel like he does, with no plan, a guitar, and a backpack. While his words may have had a point, his arrogance had me all but hissing at him until he left me alone.

You stick your nose in the air when your friends back home tell you about their week at a resort in the Bahamas.

Oh, you stayed at an all-inclusive resort and rode jet skis and drank piña coladas by the pool? That’s not “real” travel.

Unfortunately, not everyone feels secure enough to leave the comforts of home and sleep on bunk beds in hostels in the same clothes they wore all day. Some people just want a vacation, a chance to tan their skin and get day drunk by some white sand beaches. That’s their choice, and it’s what makes them happy. While we may know deep down that there are more fulfilling forms of travel, it is not our duty to make people feel bad for spending more money in a week than we might in three months.

According to you, no one’s really traveled if they haven’t been away from home for more than two weeks.

Last year, I went backpacking in South America for 3 months. Most of my friends and family back home thought this was a long time to travel solo. However, I also got asked by more than one backpacker snob, “Only three months?”

They would then proceed to tell me how they have been traveling for two years straight, declaring humbly that they were lucky to have such supportive parents, yet no ties back home. Must be nice dude.

And no one’s truly traveled unless they’ve left the States.

I’ll admit, it sounds way cooler to begin a story with, “When I was in Paris…” than “When I was in Utah…” But don’t forget that your own country most likely has a booming tourism industry. If you’re dying to backpack around Spain, who’s to say that someone from Spain isn’t dying to backpack around the US? It’s all relative, and new experiences in new places are new experiences in new places.

You start sentences with, “This is why I hate my country…”

You regale people with instances of how it’s so much better to live like the people you met in other countries.

The Indians in the Peruvian Amazon are so connected with the earth, so pure. Sicilians eat so much better than we do because all their produce is fresh and organic. The Chinese have such respect for their elders.

Spare me, okay?

You have a speech prepared for how world travel has made you a ‘better person.’

Gosh, when I was picking olives on a farm in the South of Italy, I learned so much about myself as an individual. I’ve become a more cultured, well-rounded person with so much more respect for humanity.

Have you? Or did you just take selfies of yourself staring off into the Amalfi coast to post on Instagram with the hashtag #blessed? You’re not necessarily a better person. So why do you think everyone could solve their own problem if they only had the courage to quit their job, pack up a backpack and buy a one-way ticket?

Visiting just one country on a single trip is no longer acceptable to you.

Sure, it’s cool to be able to tell those friends of yours back home who don’t have passports that last month you visited England, France, Spain, Portugal and Morocco. But how much of those countries did you really experience? You don’t care, though, as long as you can cross another off the list and brag on Facebook about how you’ve been to 30 countries before you turned 30.