4 Types of Gushers

I’m suspicious of people who gush about everything, especially travel. Unless they fall victim to an actual crime – or at least very bad weather – they’ll go on about how “wonderful everything was! The people! The food! And ah! The scenery. To die for, I tell you. DIE for.” Ok, we get it. Your mind is totally blown as to how much amazement can be had on one little planet. But I don’t buy it.

It’s one thing to have a nice, relaxing vacation, thanks to some local food, interesting sights and quality time with…whomever. Maybe you even got a good deal on a handbag, met some cool people and got some great photos. But it’s suspicious when someone describes every place with such enthusiasm. Why go on and on about how uh-MAH-zing someplace was? I have a few theories:

Stage 1 Culture Shock. Unlike the term implies, culture shock isn’t some mental-emotional paralysis, but rather 4 distinct phases of adjusting to any new environment, even in your own country. The first phase is a kind of euphoria over everything that’s new and different. “Oh my word! Look at how they do coffee here! So interesting! And it tastes…so different. How do people not know about this?!” It’s coffee, get a grip. People do know about it and now you do too. Now eat your trứng vịt lộn.

Not-so-subtle-brag. When someone goes on and on with nothing substantial to back it up, all I hear is, “While you schleps were back here in Everyday-land, doing whatever it is we do all day, I was having more fun than you have ever or will ever have. I’ll prove it by describing my trip more enthusiastically than you’ve ever described anything. My trip makes me awesome and I deserve your jealousy.”

Keeping Up Appearances You just spent several weeks and several grand on your Big Trip that all your friends and coworkers will be asking you about. Maybe the trip was “eh” or not-so-great and you couldn’t wait to get back home. But such honesty would feel too much like admitting defeat, even to yourself. If your trip was awesome and amazing and life-altering, then your time and money was well spent! Back-pat.

What People Want to Hear Long ago, the National Society of Small Talk approved this soundbite as the response to How was [geographic location]?: “We had the best time. The Place was so beautiful, the food was so great and the people – the people were amazing! It was so hard to come home! [chuckle-chuckle] You should definitely go!” And people have been responding in a similar fashion ever since. It’s quick, easy and helps travelers avoid real-answer fatigue.

Thanks, Gushers. Gushing about faraway places is so popular, sometimes my “I’m fine” or “Vietnam is fine” is met with, “Oh no, what’s wrong?” Nothing’s wrong. The truth is, Vietnam’s neither amazing nor wretched. It’s somewhere along the lines of “just fine”, but saying so raises flags for some people and they assume I’m having a bad time. Not so. I like Vietnam fine, I just don’t have a better soundbite that’s honest.

Do you have any other theories on why people gush about travel?


3 thoughts on “4 Types of Gushers

  1. Actually, I think people may actually feel that “Wow”! about places they have traveled to – I know I have. I think it’s a combination of the excitement of a new/interesting place mixed with the relaxation one feels when taking a break. On the other hand, it’s a whole ‘nother ball of wax when you move somewhere and have to live there day-to-day (and bank, and get things turned on or fixed, etc.). I actually wrote a post about why expats are so glowing on their blogs and I share many of your theories (except applied to living in, not visiting a place). I think that honest “WOW” factor was what “tricked” us into moving to Italy – definitely not one never-ending vacation!

  2. I enjoy sorting my friends on each one of your categories! Really like your approach on this and reading brought so many different people to mind after trips they took and how “WOW” it was. Every place has something different to offer and only going from one place to another can show you how amazing or not a place really is. I also believe traveling for holiday and actually living is quite different and maybe that’s why people gush about travel? I remember when I went to Egypt and thought WOW I should move here. I mean with the currency exchange I was living like a princess and for nothing in my eyes and on top I love the weather and people. In the end I never moved but will return to visit the friendships developed while there…

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