Nobody Cares About Your Travel Stories

You've climbed to the top of Notre Dame in Paris. Your buddies could care less...

It’s rough coming back from a trip.  You are brimming with exciting stories, pictures and funny videos that you want to share with the world.  You want to take home all the excitement and adrenaline of the road.  You want your friends and families to get it, to share your excitement.  You want to regale them with tales of the trail – close encounters, exotic cuisine, crazy fellow travelers, beautiful sights and unpredictable adventures.

You are giddy with excitement as you grab your bags, rush through customs and head for passenger pick-up.  You strain and stand on tip-toe in arrivals, looking for the family member or friend’s car and the moment they arrive there is that flurry of excitement as hugs are exchanged, bags are thrown in the back, ugly glances are exchanged with traffic cops and you all jump in and pull out.

The loved one then asks the obligatory question:  “How was the trip?”  They may even muster “I want to know everything.”  Trust me, they don’t.  And here’s why:

1)  Travel stories are like situational humor – you had to be there.  Let’s be honest, there are few things easier to tune out than stories of amazing adventures that you did not get to go on.  If you were not there to experience it, it is hard to feel anything more than a very passing interest in what happened.  Do you care that cousin X had such a fantastic time bird watching in Costa Rica?  Not really. 

2)  Your goofy giddiness is actually kind of annoying.  I’m definitely guilty of this one.  I am more intense than most of my friends and when I tell you a story that I am really into, I really live into what I am telling you.  I get so engrossed in my storytelling that while some may enjoy it, others find it a little excessive and occasionally tell me as much:)

3)  Your stories are too far from their reality.  This is a reason not to be offended when people don’t really take an interest in the amazing time you have just had.  Their day-to-day reality is just too far removed from your stories of leisurely traipsing all over the French Riviera.  It’s not personal.  It’s just that it is hard to know where to file your accounts of spotting celebrities in Cannes, polishing off delectable baked creations from quaint little pâtisseries and lazing on fine sand beaches when reality is high gas prices and bad baby sitters at home.

4)  They’re jealous.  OK, maybe not everyone.  There are those that are genuinely happy for you.  Those that are able to live vicariously through you in a positive way.  But that’s the minority.  The most common internal response to your enthusiastic babble about safaris and Trans-Siberian rail trips?  “Shut up.”

5) You suck at telling stories.  Well, I can’t say this for sure.  You may be an excellent storyteller.  But keep your travel chronicles concise just in case.

6) They want to talk about them.  And here we arrive at the real reason nobody cares about your travel stories.  They want to tell you THEIR stories.  So settle down, stop uploading your thousands of pics and videos to Facebook and do some listening.  Hear them out and you might have some friends wiling to sit through your reminiscing.




Bjorn Karlman

6 thoughts on “Nobody Cares About Your Travel Stories”

  1. I’m laughing so hard because IT’S ALL TRUE. Witty and insightful. Excellent post (and I’m not just saying this because I’m your wife).

  2. Well, you could always try – did you read my blog? It has all the photos and adventures. I guess then they’ll tell you why their computer doesn’t work and why they don’t believe in going online.

    One easy way to get them interested in your travels – bring everyone gifts! So, they have to ask you how your trip was.

    1. GIFTS! Genius… how very true… maybe the value of the gift could reflect the length of time they are willing to endure travel tales…

  3. I love this post Bjorn! It definitely helps if you can tell a good story and make them feel like they were there(speaking in present tense helps, apparently). It’s funny how we can be so absorbed in our own travels that we forget that people kept living and having adventures on their own turf. Having said that, one of the things we studied in a Cross-Cultural Communications class last year was how people deal with reverse culture shock by talking about their travels–in excess–and how it can get worse when people back home don’t listen. It’s usually a small phase, but an important one. It certainly makes me more patient when I have to hear about car troubles on a rural road somewhere or learning how to bargain at an outdoor market in a country I’ve never been to. I guess it’s super important not to let anyone feel left out regardless of where they went or if they stayed behind!

    1. Thanks Alyssa! Several great points there and I agree with your conclusion on the need for inclusion in conversation. If there is room for stories on both sides I’m sure there will be more tolerance for travel talk than with the monologue approach:)

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