I’ve already discussed my frustrations with dealing with people who are just inappropriate/racist about foreign places and people. But what about those who are jealous or envious of your travels and experiences? They can also be incredibly frustrating and patience-testing, whether it is a friend, family member, coworker, acquaintance, or random person you meet on the airplane (for the record, I hate talking to people on the airplane…way to much of an introvert to enjoy that).
From personal experience, and stories from others, it seems “trip-envy” (as it will be known) most commonly presents itself in one of these five manifestations:
-my trip was somuchawesomer than yours,
-sh*tting on everything you mention,
-obvious, explicit jealousy, and
While I don’t always succeed–probably because I’m not a shrink and I prefer relationships with horses and dogs–I truly try to adhere to the following, generally polite, methods for interactions with individuals who fall into these categorizations.
1. For the “somuchawesomers”: don’t compete. I know it seems really tempting to keep escalating the stories, but why bother? The other individual is looking to ‘win’ in this situation, and you bringing up yet another cool place you’ve been, awesome destination you are going, or unique experience just perpetuates the cycle. When you tell a story, and they tell you how the place they went/thing they did/sight they saw is epically superior, stop and smile. Say, “that’s wonderful, I’m so glad you had a great experience seeing xyz”. I often do it with an internal (ehhh I try to make it internal) sweet little smirk.
2. For the “completely indifferent”: remain calm. The worst thing you can do here is acknowledge that they’ve bothered you by not being engaged in your story or asking you follow-up questions about your travels. Sure, you can laugh internally at their indifference as you know they were dyyiinnnggg to go on a cool trip, but don’t show it. Practice your inner Easter Island maoi. Carry on with your story like the expert story-teller you are.
3. For the “sh*tters”: agree with them. I think this works particularly well for people I find annoying anyway, because it’s just fun. You have to be just sarcastic enough to leave them wondering…for example, “I can’t believe you went to xyz. That’s such a horrible waste of time because the pond scum grows in epic proportions in that disgusting ocean”. You would respond: “You know, you’re right. That pond scum is just unbearable, and it really is out of control. I can’t believe they don’t block off that section of the ocean so no one has to endure the sight of it ever again.”
4. For the “I admit I’m jealous”: encourage them to travel. For those that are truly jealous of your experiences, and say they don’t have the time, the money, the whatever, try to turn the conversation to encourage them to travel. Or try something new. Or visit a nearby National Park. Sometimes these people are jealous because they just don’t understand how you can do these things, and they can’t. A little encouragement–not to repeat your adventures, just to break out of their bubble–can go a long way. If nothing else, you’re doing the right thing here, and hey, maybe it can make a difference.
5. For the “feigned happiness”: be conscientious and don’t condescend. Give these people a little bit of credit. They are trying, even if their face is so strained it looks like a botox accident. Be conscientious that you aren’t talking about your trip for the 4th time in less than an hour, because if you are, their feigned happiness is well-deserved. Also, try to work on your tone and avoid a patronizing or condescending tone–just because you just had an amazing life-changing experience doesn’t mean that their travel or life experiences are not to also be valued. Each person internalizes experiences differently and has different travel priorities; treating your trips as superior is just a wee bit annoying.
I always try to fall back on humor, wit, patience, or courtesy: how do you deal with people who act envious when you return from a trip?