In my experience traveling and living abroad, I’ve had many discussions with both fellow travelers and expats and locals. Sometimes the locals are more than willing to talk openly about a number of topics, but on the other hand, it can also take time to get beyond introductory conversations and hear what they really feel. Though not always true, in many cases I’ve seen that locals are envious of those who arrive to their city, stay for a few days or weeks, and then leave. And in some cases, they appear to downright hate them. Here are four reasons that I have seen contribute to a native disliking a visitor.
4. Not Learning Anything About the Place Visited
There’s always an expectation to learn something new when you travel somewhere, but it also doesn’t hurt to do some research before making the trip. Before living in Sevilla, Spain, I did almost no research on it so that I could go in with no expectations and a fresh outlook. But in retrospect, I think research can only help. I’ve written previously about reading local newspapers before arriving, or failing that, checking the international sections of outlets like The New York Times or Wall Street Journal for related news, which could at the very least introduce you to their news. There are various ways to get acquainted with the new culture, whether it be books, movies or music. You don’t have to sit down and watch a night’s worth of local soap operas to delve into the culture, but you might want to glance over it. And at the very least, flick through the history section of the guide book. I’ve come across so many people who had no idea about anything related to the culture they were living in. They were simply there to have a good time, which is fine, but also brings out contempt in many.
3. “Everything is So Cheap!”
This one might apply more to the developing world, but can also vary from place to place. I’m a local yet a foreigner, and it still bugs me when I hear people fresh in from the old country bragging about how cheap the country is. Taxis, food, rent–it all seems very inexpensive, but only when compared to the dollar or euro. In reality, many places are no cheap, especially for the locals. And those who have to live a normal life and make ends meet find it condescending when someone who’s in town for a couple of days says, “You must go out for steaks every night!” It’s always relative, like how when I lived in Cuenca, I considered a $2.50 lunch expensive, when it could have been $1.50 in other parts of the country. From Buenos Aires, $2.50 would be an absolute steal. Again, it depends on where you come from.
2. Constantly Talking About Other Places Visited
Not everyone has the ability to travel around the world, and though a few stories might interest them and photos could be nice to see for a few minutes, it’s rude to go on and on about travels. For example, that’s why I have a blog. I write about what I’ve seen and done, and if anyone wants to read into it they can. But I don’t talk about it all the time unless it comes up in a relevant conversation. You have to judge your audience and see if they genuinely want to hear the story or are just humoring you. It’s the same for when you go home and start to talk to your friends about the trip.
1. The Ability to Pick Up and Leave Whenever
This might be the biggest reason of all for someone to dislike a traveler. It’s envy, jealousy, and desire. A traveler can show up and set up shop for a few days, live like a king, and then move on like the wind. Meanwhile, a local stays behind to deal with a regular life. Many people often dream about just picking up and leaving, but few actually follow through with it. Even with a long term expat, there’s always the potential for a sudden change. If the job was no fun or a better opportunity arose, whatever the case, a person could just go to the next country or go home. Not many locals can do the same thing. It’s hard to break into circles sometimes because of this. There’s uncertainty on how long you could actually be around, so why get involved with someone who might leave in a week?
These are just four possible causes for a local to dislike you in your travels, but they are by no means rules. You may never come across someone who openly shows disdain for you, but on the other hand, you could find it very difficult to make local friends. It all depends. Just try to keep these things in mind the next time you travel.