Ask a seasoned traveller to share about her recent trip and you will see her eyes light up. Ask her about her next trip and you will see a smile break out on her face, as she starts discussing about her plans. While most travellers are open to sharing their experiences, there are certain questions you should totally refrain from touching on.
Together with my friend Yun Qing who writes for a travel blog YQ Travelling, we present you six questions you should NEVER ask a seasoned traveller, well, because here is what we really think of you, despite our polite smiles at your questions. Or the awkward silence that follows.
1. Can you help me buy a Prada bag in Europe? Pleasseee…
A friend asked me this before I went on a trip to Spain and I was seriously annoyed. Firstly, I was heading to Spain and then Eastern Europe. These are cities where Prada do not originate from, so am I suppose to spend 3 hours of my precious time to go hunting for that luxury boutique of yours? And then to search for that specific model of Prada that you want? And what if the store didn’t carry it? Am I suppose to bear the sky-high auto-roaming fees to call and ask if you would prefer something else?
I think that’s a rather inconsiderate question. A better way to rephrase this would be: “Would you be getting any Prada bags during your trip? If the answer is no, end of conversation. If the answer is yes, you could then raise your request.
It’s even more inconsiderate to ask this question, especially if you know your friend will be travelling to other cities after that, and your Prada bag may take up a considerable space in her luggage.
When I asked most of my close friends if they wanted anything when I was in Europe, most of them said, “It’s okay, just enjoy yourself.” It is really strange and a lesson in life. The people whom you really want to help out tend not to ask anything from you.
2. Did you visit any outlet stores?
This links to the first point. I don’t travel to Europe, US or anywhere else in the world just to buy branded goods. So if this question is posed to me, I think you’re totally missing the point. I would love to answer questions such as ‘what’s nice to see in Spain’, or ‘any good tapas to recommend’, but outlet stores just ain’t my thing. I love shopping and enjoy it. So when Zara or Mango has a sale in Spain, I would be happy to go on a spree. But I will not travel two hours from the heart of the city to seek out branded goods.
3. So, how many cities did you cover during your trip?
Hello, friend. Travelling is not about accumulating the number of cities you have been to, but the quality of your experience. You could flit from each European city to another and cover 100 cities in a matter of months, and you would have gained nothing in return. Travelling is about spending time to understand a place, its culture, the sights and making friends along the way. If you go dashing around, just bent on taking pictures of the usual sights so you can go home to tell people you have been to these places, you are a mere tourist.
That’s a perfect question for a tourist, but please refrain from asking a seasoned traveller that.
4. What time does Chatuchak open? (Or any question that can be easily answered by Google)
How would I know what time does Chatuchak open? Do I look like a Lonely Planet guidebook to you? Dude, would you mind just taking out your smartphone and Googling it? It’s a question that would be answered by Google in seconds. For all you know, I may have visited the market in the afternoon and at some other times of the day. And am I supposed to remember the opening hours of Chatuchak a month after I return from Bangkok?
5. Don’t you think you are spending too much on travelling?
Someone once asked me this and I was absolutely furious. In my heart I was thinking, ‘Who the **** are you to question how much I spend on something I love doing? For goodness sake, just keep your nose out of my financial affairs. You can go save and buy a house for all you like but let’s not unleash your dreams and aspirations on someone else. If I’m not commenting on the way you budget money for your hobbies, please refrain from commenting on mine.
This is probably the Worst, WORST question to ask someone.
6. Why do you travel alone, don’t you have people to go with you?
Hi, contrary to popular belief, I am not a loner because I travel alone. I travel alone out of choice. I like to spend time alone, thinking about life while watching the sunset at the ghats of Varanasi. I like making friends along the way and learn about their stories. Travelling is important to me – so if all my friends can’t make the trip, I will still proceed, thank you very much. Please don’t assume that people who travel alone are lonely and without friends.
Also, please don’t ever say to us, ‘You’re so brave!! I wouldn’t dare travel alone..’ because that would elicit a Major, Major eyeroll. To me, you’re a 20 something adult with a good grasp of English, not a fragile being that is unable to survive in a foreign city without clutching on to the arm of her boyfriend.
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I hope this post hasn’t shocked, or stopped you from asking questions on The Travelling Squid. As long as you avoid these six, I’ll be happy to answer them. : )
Do you have other questions that annoy the **** out of you as a traveller? Do share them below.