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Are you a travel snob? Let’s discuss travel elitism and shade

If you were wondering what my biggest travel pet peeve is, this is it.

Just because you’ve travelled far and wide, doesn’t mean you have to be a jerk about it.

Repeat after me: travel doesn’t make you better, more cultured, or more elite than anyone else. I DESPISE travel snobbery, and as more people become “about that travel life” I’ve seen lots more shade being thrown at those who either don’t travel, don’t travel extensively, or aren’t “hardcore” enough in their travels (particularly in the African-American travel community, but that may be because that’s the one I’m most tapped into).

So, in my new video, I tell those offenders to get over themselves (nicely). Have you ever encountered elitist or snobby attitudes towards the way you travel (or don’t travel)? Have you witnessed travel shade? How do you feel about it? Harmless or nah?
Let’s discuss.

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48 Comments

  • Reply
    Ericka S. Williams
    October 10, 2015 at 3:02 am

    people that do not want to travel at all..makes me a little nervous, but i am a military kid sooo I know the joy of traveling/moving to new cities. I am sad for people who live in cities like chicago and las vegas or dallas or houston AND never leave that city. YES I have met those folks and confused by not one single day trip out of town desire. The “shade” (gonna use that word now) over people who at least travel on a cruise, or to florida every year, or even las vegas to gamble thats silly. Let people live. My extended family cruised for 10-12 years straight all 30 of US via carnival due to my aunt working for carnival and getting US ridiculously great cruise discount.

    • Reply
      Reginia Cordell
      October 10, 2015 at 4:56 am

      Why does it matter to anyone else if a person travels or not?

      I’ve met people who are well traveled yet still very narrow-minded and socially unaware. Passport stamps do not equate to social responsibility and a keen moral compass. I’ve met people who are limited in their travels yet are great, caring individuals.

      If people have no desire to travel that’s OK because personal growth and survival happens without it.

    • Reply
      Kelly
      July 29, 2016 at 4:03 pm

      This comment kinda proves the point of this video smh ijs

  • Reply
    Trudy
    October 10, 2015 at 5:57 am

    Yes I have come across this shade a number of times. For me travel has always been a dream but other things have been a priority either by planning or emergency. And people will say in conversation (friends and family), “You haven’t been that’s too bad!” with pity. I would never do that to anyone, I don’t know your life or what’s on your plate.

  • Reply
    Ash
    October 10, 2015 at 1:21 pm

    I’ve always felt that white people have done this to me. perhaps I’m being paranoid…it just feels like travel is a way for them to size me up to see if I’m “cultured” enough. It’s a form of respectability politics in my opinion. It seems like another way we can judge people like education level, occupation, etc.

    If I’m honest with myself, I’ll have to admit that I engaged in some form of travel snobbery when I was younger. It seems silly now but I think I was like “oh, I went to Paris. I’m so cultured. Let me tell others about how they need to have the same experience”. That mindset is completely wrong and ignores the autonomy of each individual.

    • Reply
      Oneika
      October 13, 2015 at 4:44 pm

      Sad but I have experienced this too! I have definitely been in a situation when a white person has effectively tried to size me up to see what “calibre” of black person I have. It’s so unfair and ignorant, but I can’t lie, I have enjoyed seeing their eyes open wide in surprise when they realize that their first impression of me was totally off base! I don’t dwell on such nonsense but regardless of color or creed, some folks need to be taken down a peg. Humility is SUCH a lost art!

  • Reply
    Jazzy
    October 10, 2015 at 5:34 pm

    Traveling is not for everyone but i do believe that everyone should travel atleast once in their lives. How they choose to travel is up to them. No travel style is better than the other, the right style is your style… The one that fits with who you are as a person and how you like to travel.

    One thing Ben and I preach on our blog is that everyone should follow their dreams regardless how crazy it may seem to others. Traveling is not everyone’s dream and that’s is fine, we just want people to be daring enough and have the audicity to make their dream non negotiable.

    I wrote a post not to long ago, (Traveling while Black) that was a call to action for more Black people to not only travel more but to educate more and indugle the curiosity of others while doing so.

    • Reply
      Oneika
      October 13, 2015 at 4:42 pm

      Wise words! I will look up your post on TWB! I especially like the indulging the curiosity of others part. So often we travel to discover “The Other”– naturally they would find us interesting if we have black skin, red hair, etc! I love these differences and so often they have sparked great conversations with local people.

      • Reply
        Jazzy
        October 26, 2015 at 3:35 pm

        It definitely does spark a conversation. Many times when we see “eccentric” people or things while we are traveling we stare and take pictures and share them on social media. In return we must accept our role of being on the other side of the lens too, which my come with some hair touching and fascination.

  • Reply
    Kara
    October 10, 2015 at 9:48 pm

    I used to think that people who didn’t like to travel were basically idiots – and I don’t feel that way anymore, though I do think that travel can be an amazing experience. When people ask my about my experiences, I try to emphasize that travel is about getting out of your comfort zone, NOT about the distance that you go from your home! In hostels there’s a lot of one-upmanship which is a frustrating game, since no one wins. Those travel stories can be awesome, but it’s also just a lot of showing off.

    So yeah, you’re right that there’s a lot of shade and competition when it comes to travel, and unfortunately, like Regina wrote, the amount that you’ve traveled is not always a good indicator of your moral compass or political awareness.

    • Reply
      Oneika
      October 13, 2015 at 4:40 pm

      “the amount that you’ve traveled is not always a good indicator of your moral compass or political awareness.” THIS! So true, in my experience.

  • Reply
    Eze
    October 12, 2015 at 4:01 am

    Off topic, but I wanted to say that you’re absolutely beautiful. Just sending love!

    • Reply
      Oneika
      October 13, 2015 at 4:39 pm

      Oh wow! Thank you for the kind words!

  • Reply
    Victoria@ The British Berliner
    October 14, 2015 at 4:58 am

    I looooove the video Oneika and most importantly, I really loooove your voice. You’ve got a lovely strong voice. Very focused and trustworthy.

    Have I encountered or witnessed travel shade? Probably. But not to my face LOL! I can’t even imagine anyone trying “that” with me mostly, because I don’t run in the dirt cheap & disgusting floor, circle in the first place. I’m privately educated so big deal if you’ve been to Singapore. EVERYONE in my circle has been to Singapore!

    I don’t write focused on colour, as anyone who has ever read my blog can see. I don’t even write from the perspective of a woman either as I don’t write with my sex in mind. I don’t write 5 posts a week, I’m not on Twitter every minute, I don’t have a “professional” FB or a snapchat page. I’m not even on Instagram. And I have no plans to do so either!

    I write how and whatever the way I want but there is a reason that my photograph is a huge one. When I first started blogging, my photograph literally took half the front page LOL! Now it’s a little more genteel due to the media attention that I received in the summer, but on almost every post, MY face and photograph is present.

    Subtle? You decide!

    p.s. My husband isn’t a big traveller. I’m the globetrotter and because he loves me, I also travel solo. In fact, he would prefer to stay closer to home as much as possible but it doesn’t make me love him any less!

    • Reply
      Oneika
      October 14, 2015 at 2:23 pm

      Victoria, as always I love your candor and your ability to just “do you”! I think you and I are both similar in that travel is a lifestyle (and has been for a while)– not something done to vaunt or one-up others. It’s just something that we like to do and that’s it! When I started blogging I had no particular focus in mind, I was just recounting my experiences. But now there’s definitely a “slant” in some of my posts because I realize that I’m in the position to encourage people who look like me to get out there! Thanks for the compliment on my voice lol and that’s awesome that hubby doesn’t mind that you are more keen to globetrot than stay home!

    • Reply
      Kevin Bates
      November 10, 2016 at 7:06 pm

      so “shade’ based on the school you attended? LMAO

      seems everyone has a need to feel superior on some scale..

  • Reply
    Danielle
    October 18, 2015 at 9:52 pm

    Loved the video. It is also a big pet peeve of mine. Travel is as a blessing that I’m grateful to have as a part of my life. I’ve always considered it as ‘continuing education’. What you can learn about yourself and others is unlimted by travel experiences. And just like school you get out of it what you put in. Domestic, international, luxury budget, roadtrip or first class air-people should choose what makes them most happy. Those that throw shade are missing (in my opinion) the whole point of it all. I ask them, if it makes someone else happy, then what do you care? The critics and oneupmanship that I witness in person and read on social media appears to be increasing. And that saddens me because I would love to see more encouragement instead of more people trying to treat travel like an exclusive ‘club’ that only a certain kind of traveller can get enter.

  • Reply
    Alicia Pierre
    October 27, 2015 at 3:05 pm

    This is SUCH a big pet peeve of mine as well. I’m a full time nomad and it’s in the ‘digital nomad’ community also. I have close friends who never travel and I have no problem with that. We are all different and are here to paint our own picture of life. I have NO criticism to the art (life) others create. If people love to travel, great! If they don’t, great! I love to travel, but it is NOT the end-all-be-all to life (I think you even said this also in the video LOL). And I agree with you that we should instead focus on uplifting each other. There’s way too much other problems in our community (and the world) than to worry about each other’s travel desires (or lack thereof). Great post! Thank you.

  • Reply
    Yolanda
    November 2, 2015 at 6:33 pm

    Hi Oneika! I love the video too and all of your post. I have never traveled outside of the U.S. and I just got my passport this fall. I have traveled to many places in the U.S. I can’t wait to find the perfect place to take my first solo trip abroad. I have been inspired by your blog and many others on traveling and getting out of your comfort zone. And I hope I don’t run into any travel snobs! Can you recommend any places to travel for a first timer?

  • Reply
    Amarachi
    November 8, 2015 at 9:22 pm

    I discovered your blog when I was about to take my first solo trip to Europe. Glad I did and have been hooked ever since. Now, I check to see posts on places I’d be visiting.

    I haven’t actually had any major experiences with travel snobs although, I’ve encountered people who sort of ‘disapprove’ of the way I spend my time when I travel. I’m mostly an introvert and fun for me is very different to what others classify as such. It’s really annoying to be sort of classified by where you have or haven’t been to or what you have or have not done.

    At the end of the day, it’s your life. Do what makes you happy!

  • Reply
    Jess
    November 10, 2015 at 8:32 am

    Everyone is different, not everyone likes or wants to travel and that doesn’t mean they are any less of a person. You can’t judge someone by where they have or haven’t been. I have school friends who have never really left our state, while it’s not for me it is for them and I respect that.

    Shade isn’t cool – ever.

  • Reply
    Cest La Vibe
    November 16, 2015 at 5:35 am

    “Throwing of travel shade” I love that term! And it seems like everyone is throwing shade. Either you don’t travel enough, your budget is not low enough, you’re too much of a tourust etc…. Glad to hear your take.

  • Reply
    G
    December 4, 2015 at 6:24 pm

    I found this post quite intriguing. Maybe you do not remember, but I found you quite a snob with an elitist mindset when we lived in France many years ago. You pretty much brushed me off although I made efforts to connect with fellow Black travelers such as yourself (maybe as a Canadian the mentality or ‘black connection’ does not exist?).

    Perhaps you have evolved and grew into a more polished individual, but first impressions are everything and you certainly left a bad taste in my mouth.

    And it seems you low key advertise your interests when ever you appear to post in certain facebook groups!

  • Reply
    Lola
    February 3, 2016 at 4:23 am

    I love that you mentioned cruises! I’ve heard people say that cruising isn’t legit. I completely beg to differ and I made that nice & clear on my blog. Anything that gets me away from home is considered travel. As for the snobs…I’m a-ok with not proving my travel status by sleeping outside on a random mountain (been there, done that, thank you Girl Guides of Alberta). Not that there is anything wrong with sleeping outside…I just don’t have a deep desire to do so anymore (hello bears!). Travel should be how you want it to be and not with the goal of trying to impress others…that’s how you miss the good stuff (if traveling is your thing). 🙂

    • Reply
      Gael
      February 27, 2016 at 1:19 am

      Ha! I slept on a sidewalk outside of a train station in Athens. It sucked.

  • Reply
    Deera
    February 24, 2016 at 8:07 pm

    Thank you for this post! I couldn’t agree more. I see it way too often, particularly within the African American community. Someone takes one standard (Paris, London, Rome) international trip and now they’re automatically cultured. They’re no better for the experience because they didn’t go for the right reasons to being with (to broaden their world view, learn a different culture, etc.), but went simply to say they’ve been (bragging rights). Oftentimes, these same “well traveled” people are no more or even less socially or politically aware than someone who has never stepped foot outside of the U.S.; their conversations prove it. I travel extensively because I want to see the world and experience other cultures, not to one-up anyone.

  • Reply
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  • Reply
    Gael
    February 27, 2016 at 1:17 am

    Hahaha, this happened once when I was in my 10th year of living abroad (UK to Australia to Taiwan). I was on a two-week vacation to Vietnam and did a two-day boat trip. I got so dissed by this group of smug couples for ‘only’ going on a two-week holiday, not real travel don’t you know. I was astonished because about three of those ten years had been spent actively travelling and I was in my 5th year living and working in Taiwan, quite different from my home country of Canada. Their manners were truly appalling. While the scenery was brilliant I sure was glad it was only a couple of days with these folks.

  • Reply
    me myself eye
    February 28, 2016 at 3:57 pm

    everyone who claims to love the earth and then takes a flight, is a hippocrite.

  • Reply
    Heather
    April 7, 2016 at 12:28 am

    I’ve always hated travel snobbery. Travel should be about enjoying life and experiencing new things, not one-upping one another.

  • Reply
    Ray
    April 7, 2016 at 2:01 am

    Travel is meant to be a time of self reflection and discovery. So whether you choose to go camping, take a cruise, rough it for 9 months in another part of the world or just take a weekend getaway, then that is all that matters.

  • Reply
    Danielle Desir
    April 7, 2016 at 2:50 am

    I find the “You should be here” travel movement very pushy and I’m constantly being told that there is a better way to travel. Just let me be!

  • Reply
    Mel
    April 7, 2016 at 1:42 pm

    Completely agree! Why do certain people in the travel sphere have to look down on people that don’t find traveling to be a priority? Drives me crazy and I always roll my eyes when I find a post or article about how “everyone should quit their job to go backpacking because it’s the way to truly live life”. Great video, love your blog!

    • Reply
      Kevin Bates
      November 10, 2016 at 7:08 pm

      everyone does it..based on education or connections or wealth level/”social class|//OR something

      seems everyone has a need to feel superior on some scale..

  • Reply
    Hand Luggage Only
    May 13, 2016 at 1:11 pm

    Well said!!!

  • Reply
    LJ Briar
    June 19, 2016 at 6:10 pm

    Finding this video a bit late via another article you wrote, I think on Alternet, but I already closed the tab, so I might have forgotten.

    My husband and I are white so we don’t experience some of this elitism the same way, but we get very, VERY frustrated with his family because his parents and brother and sister-in-law are constantly on us to travel more, because we apparently just don’t do it enough. We alternate between going one year to visit my family on the Canadian east coast, and one year going to visit his relatives in Serbia, and usually taking an opportunity to visit one or two other neat places while we’re already going to be in Europe. That is plenty for us, and we recognize we are very privileged just to have the resources and the leisure just to do that, but travel IS very, very expensive, and we are not comfortable spending much more than we already do on traveling, and in addition, my husband and I are both homebodies who prefer routine, and although we do enjoy ourselves, we find travel very tiring, and are not big nightlife people, so even when we do go to Europe, we scuttle back to our hotel room like rats way earlier than, say, my brother and sister-in-law, or even my mother and father-in-law. Still, we get criticized for being too frugal, and when we do travel, we don’t see the right things, or enough of the right things, don’t eat the right things, etc. It is very frustrating.

    As a complete aside, you are seriously one of THE most beautiful people I’ve ever seen!

  • Reply
    Kamille
    June 19, 2016 at 6:45 pm

    Hi! I loved your video! It is so frustrating when privileged people tells you it’s easy… The stories we hear the most about are already wealthy people – with a good job, an education, etc. who just give up on what they own to go… Good for them, but not all of us already have something to trade for travel, nor actually wants to trade what they have…
    My dream is to travel as well but so far I am lacking the money and the ressources, maybe even some courage (I get a lot of stress from my family/friends who just believe I will get killed if I go alone)…
    Would you have any tips on how to get started?

    Also, you asked for video suggestions, I would love to see you talking about your experiences as a woman travelling alone if you want.

    Thank you and have a nice day (:

  • Reply
    Kirsten
    June 20, 2016 at 2:51 am

    I’ve had to deal with a lot of this as a disabled person. I was very fortunate to be able to study abroad while I was more able bodied than I am now, but even then my travel companions were not kind to my pain ridden body slowing up their plans. I finally just had to go “Ok. I’m gonna walk at my own pace. I’ll meet you there.” and this attitude only worked because I was in areas I felt very safe. Now that I use a cane and a wheelchair? Traveling is a whole other ballgame. I have to plan EVERYTHING or its just not physically safe for me. And I still have people (friends?) saying “You’ve gotta live while you’re young!” …right.

    Thanks for taking the time to speak out about this. As a disabled person (who doesn’t have a lot of money either) its really hurtful to see the travel elitism on my facebook dash.

    • Reply
      Oneika
      June 21, 2016 at 3:54 am

      Oh gosh Kirsten, I am sorry that people are not sympathetic to your limitations!!! Here’s hoping that people become more cognizant of the diverse life situations that make us travel different from one another or not at all.

    • Reply
      KYME
      September 3, 2016 at 9:26 pm

      I’m so sorry but what you say is true. I’ve felt really sad when friends I used to be able to travel with … well travel. But I am glad to follow their adventures. I also learned, not to always trust when people are “we’ll take care of you..” um, I remember more than once being stuck at an airport, and thinking “so, you AREN’T picking me up?” Oh just take the bus, right….with the cane and wheelchair, fine! It’s tough but I don’t think people get how tough it is. But, I’m working toward smaller trips near home…. plus staying with friends that understand my disability and are willing to go at my pace. I don’t want to go with some people as I don’t want to slow them down… and that’s fine also. While they can travel and go full steam ahead, please do so and share with me, but don’t also act like life isn’t worth living without travel. It is, but for me, the beauty of what is closer and friendship is as good as friendship and go go go across the world. Share, just don’t make me feel badly about it. But yes Kirsten, it’s hard.

  • Reply
    Philip
    June 22, 2016 at 6:39 pm

    Travel can lead to incredible life experiences, but you have to be open to accepting those experiences. I know many people who have “gone places”, but usually end up staying at resorts, etc… These people have relatively insular lives and those livelihoods stay “protected” on their vacations. In talking with people like that, you’ll find they are extremely hesitant or completely dumbfounded by ideas to actually travel anywhere outside the comforts of vacationland.

    I grew up in a small city in Montana, where most people I know don’t really stray far from home. I find that walls are almost immediately put up when the conversation revolves around travel, stuff like I’m living a charmed life (I often am making far less money than any of these people) or “who would want to go there?”, etc… I just want to inspire people to take that first step and go on a journey. I find it extremely difficult to broach the travel conversation in my everyday life – I keep most of my storytelling to my blog.

  • Reply
    Mike
    June 22, 2016 at 6:58 pm

    I agree with most of it. What people do with their time off work, if it’s a stay-cation and spend time with their kids. Or folks that just want to go to Hawaii or Cancun every year. It’s all about what people enjoy and are comfortable with. Even though if someone asks my opinion about cruises as you mentioned… I’ll try to choose anything but a cruise. That’s just me! Haha

  • Reply
    Kyme
    September 3, 2016 at 9:20 pm

    I admit I have lost friends recently that I used to travel with because, I can’t travel far anymore since I was diagnosed with a chronic illness. One problem is that cost, I have many medical expenses. One travel friend commented, when I mentioned I could not go along on a group cruise (That in the past I would have attended) “Experiences are more important than material things.” I pointed out we were helping make our home handicap friendly and adding a larger bedroom for my comfort. IT was a shot to my heart. Yes I would love to travel. Yes I adore seeing photographs and reading about where my friends travel (for those that blog about their trips, as a stay at homer, I ADORE reading about your adventures and trips… and hey someone has to read these blogs right?) But, please be aware, the overwhelming stress on “Experiences over material things” has forgotten that for many of us the day to day experience is also important. Yes maybe you decided to help pay for your child’s college (also college students get a lot of push to join in on fun trips rather than perhaps just pay for college instead of taking out even more loans.) The feeling of not being “worthy” anymore since I don’t have the money to join in (“but the cruise is FREE DRINKS”) is hard. Yes I will be traveling, but closer to home and also, not going the expensive route. While a large part of travel fun was company, I wish they were more understanding about my life is NOT OVER just because I can’t keep up with their income level of travel anymore. I love your traveling alone and loving it.. because I’ll be doing a lot more of that! 🙂 Thank you for your inspiration.

  • Reply
    Ally
    January 10, 2017 at 3:07 pm

    I LOVE cruising. So much so that I made it my own business (I’m now a travel agent) When I tell people where I’ve traveled, and it’s obvious that the bulk of it is in North America (where most cruises visit), it’s sort of like a not so subtle “looking down,” on me. Cruising, apparently, is low class. All in all, I think the “travel wars” are an elitist problem to have. Someone who spends $4,000 on a cruise being looked down upon by someone who spends $4,000 on a month-long trip to Namibia or the Seychelles or Norway. It’s all a bit silly.

  • Reply
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    Revelle
    September 27, 2017 at 4:18 am

    Great blog. When I was a kid, others would make fun of the weekend camping trips I took with my family, while they went snow-skiing in Aspen. Then when I was in college, I was the only person I knew who had never been to Europe. Lots of my friends went on study-abroad programs; I couldn’t afford it. They would come back all snooty and say things like “what do you mean, you’ve never been to London? Really?” I used to detest people like this, now I just feel sorry for them. They know what they are doing, but don’t realize how obvious they are to others and how repulsive their behavior is.

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