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Shit I hate about travelers

As a traveler and, I guess, as a travel blogger I’m probably supposed to think that not only is travel awesome but that other travelers are awesome too. Mostly, I do. And yet there’s a surprisingly long list of things that I really dislike about many travelers – like when they pretend that they’re better than “tourists;” or when they talk about “the locals” as if they’re not people but just another attraction; or when they confuse rural with “real;” or use the word “authentic” like it means something. Those things are all modestly irksome.

But the thing I really detest is when travelers treat poverty and hardship as if it is something that needs to be preserved so that the rich can surround themselves with it while on vacation.

And if you think that doesn’t happen all you need to do is read through some of the tweets people unleashed after the U.S. announced it will normalize relations with Cuba.

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Why you can’t listen to anyone else about travel

Typical smiling faces in North Vietnam

We heard so many mixed things about Vietnam that we weren’t quite sure what to expect when we arrived. Some people spoke very highly of it. But even in those cases the endorsements were usually qualified, as in “I love Vietnam, but . . .” or “It’s beautiful, but . . .”

Other folks dispensed with the “buts” altogether, claiming that “the northern Vietnamese HATE westerners” at worst, or – at best – “they aren’t very friendly.” On one thing most people seemed to agree: “Everyone tries to rip you off in Vietnam.”

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An Unexpected Detour in Luang Prabang: The Emergency Room

One place you won't find reviewed on Tripadvisor

One place you won’t find reviewed on Tripadvisor

“No Beerlao.” The advice to abstain from the popular local libation came with the over-the-counter antibiotics sold to us at a pharmacy in Luang Prabang, Laos. If only that were the extent of our problems.

Two days earlier, our stay in this tranquil riverside oasis took a worrying turn when Brian developed an alarming-looking patch on the back of his neck—what we assumed to be some kind of insect bite, a light brown spot surrounded by enflamed red skin and sprinkled with pustules. We set out for a pharmacy to try and get some help figuring out what it might be, only to find the place shuttered in the late afternoon. A printout tacked to the door noted a 45-minute break for lunch, which had passed hours before.

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An Ethical Elephant Encounter in Thailand

Elephant Eye close up

After landing in Bangkok for our first time ever we had a whole host of unanswered question about how we’d spend the next four months traveling around South East Asia. One thing we knew for certain, though, was that we wouldn’t be riding any elephants.

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