Tuesday, 27 September 2011

A few days back I was doing my usual browsing through travel blogs, and came across this very true epiphany that I wouldn't have come to on my own.

Among long-term travelers, there seems to be a certain degree of competition, a one-upsmanship if you will, over who can visit a place while spending the least amount of money. It’s a badge of honor to say, “Well, I did France for X dollars cheaper than you,” as though the cheaper you go, the more authentic your experience might be.

I have seen this attitude expressed on my own site when I share my cost of traveling posts. There are always a few people who say things like, “Well, I think you overspent, because I did it for half the price.”

I’ve never understood this cheapness competition. To me, being a backpacker or budget traveler has nothing to do with how much money you spend. Rather, it has everything to do with how you spend it.

One of my biggest pet peeves is this obsession with cheapness that I see among a lot of travelers. I’ve never understood why a person would live like a pauper while saving money for a trip, only to then go on that trip and still live like a pauper. If you only have a small amount of money to spend, better to take a shorter trip doing all the activities you want than constantly saying, “I would love to do that but I can’t afford it” on your longer trip.

 When I read it, all that went through my mind was 'how true! Even I think like that sometimes!'

Which reminds me of one of MY pet peeves- the assumptions people make about your social economic background.

Ever since moving to Australia, I have been very aware of the many assumptions that people make of me. It seems that wherever I go, how I act is seen as signs of which economic class I supposedly belong to.

Do you get that? That a habit of yours is taken to be a sign that you're well off?

Just because I had never had a part-time job, does not mean that I'm so rich that I don't need to work. You wouldn't know how much money I use. Maybe I didn't get a part-time job because I don't spend as much as the normal person and hence could live with the average allowance given to me.

Just because my parents are paying for my overseas education does not mean that they're rich. You wouldn't know how much they save, looking from the outside.

Just because I have a Macbook, does not make me rich. Just because I pay a huge amount of rent, does not make me rich.

Many times, I've had people tell me that I'm rich. I mean seriously, they TELL me that I'm rich. When I deny it, they insist that I am, as if they know me better than I know myself. Maybe in some abstract manner, yes, but definitely not in something like wealth. My reaction would normally be to shrug it off and move on to another topic, because it is simply not worth wasting any more effort trying to convince them otherwise. But of course, I'm sure these people see nothing but the naive and innocent little boy (okay not little anymore) who is just reluctant to show off his wealth.

In all honesty, it annoys me to no end and so I'd rather forget about it by changing topics in order to not rile myself up. I tell myself to not waste any more time trying to bring these people to their senses. 

I think that everyone saves money in different ways. Some people would splurge on keeping up an appearance of wealth but in actuality are barely scraping through. Some people aren't particular about their dishwasher brand and type, or would choose to buy home brand products before others, but would drive to the nearby grocery store because of the hot weather. So I do not think too much of what a person's choice of clothing, or choice of food, or choice of anything, says of them. And it absolutely annoys me when someone else assumes something about me.

Personality is another thing. Like I said before, it seems that my apparently naive-looking exterior hints at a young soul who hasn't faced the harsh realities of life.

I get told sometimes, about how I'm so young and inexperienced and don't know a lot of things. But I'm also told that I'm shy and generally don't like boasting or talking about my experiences. But it's funny how those two never collide and make people think that I'm young and shy but do know a lot of things but just don't talk about them.

So next time you meet someone, don't think you have them figured out. They may surprise you.
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