No One Wants To Hear About Your Great Trip

Filed Under: Travel

Thanks to my good pal Andrew B for sending along the following email:

I wonder if this means that everyone hates you all the time, since this is kind of what you do for a living:

The NY Times story is actually worth a read, in my opinion. It suggests that people enjoy talking about experiences they have in common — no matter how boring — while they don’t enjoy hearing about experiences they can’t relate to:

Your friends don’t want to hear about your excellent adventures.

While you may have gotten great pleasure from an epic event — sipping a rare wine in Burgundy, watching a Himalayan sunrise — that pleasure is all your own.

A recent study in Psychological Science says that despite the thrills people receive from an extraordinary experience, few anticipate its potential social cost: exclusion by friends who would really rather not hear about it.

Harvard researchers found that when people socialize, those who had the same experience, no matter how mundane, enjoyed chatting about it together. Those same people might well exclude the person who thought others couldn’t wait to hear all about his or her most unusual one.

But the pleasure of a social encounter is built on commonality. People are more likely to enjoy talking about an ordinary experience they have all had rather than hearing about the fabulous one they didn’t. So sharing the details of your singular experience in a social setting can indeed backfire, leading to feelings of being excluded.

I suppose that makes sense, and might also explain why most of my friends have stayed at the Park Hyatt Tokyo, flown Singapore Airlines Suites Class, and visited Hong Kong. 😉

In all honesty, I’m not sure I agree. I certainly prefer hearing from friends about experiences they enjoyed, even if I can’t relate to them. I tend to think passion is contagious, no matter what the topic is. Then again, I am always up for discussing the latest season of Real Housewives…

You think there’s any truth to the study, or more specifically, do you think it actually relates to sharing travel experiences?

On the plus side, Andrew B really doesn’t have to worry about isolating his social circles this weekend, as he takes a cross country Amtrak trip…

Snapshots from Andrew B‘s trip: “A picture is worth a thousand words…unless it’s a picture of Indiana.

  1. I think there is some truth to the study. I normally don’t initiate a conversation with friends telling them about Singapore Suites or Emirates showers or what not. If they ask me about the experience (I do post it on my FB wall), then I’ll gladly tell them more about it. However, it’s just not my style to just talk about the experience since, after all, I don’t want to bore them and I think there’s hundreds of other things to discuss…. like the upcoming season of real housewives of BH! I mean Lisa Van der Pump gets slapped?!? For real!?!? 😉

    I think of the reasons people go to FTU is to meet other like-minded folk who wouldn’t mind discussing these topics of aspirational flights/hotels, and MS.

  2. I think I agree with you. I enjoy reading about your (and other travel blogger’s) trips in first class and 5-star hotels. I think that (if they are well-written) that they are enjoyable to read, even though my family and I typically don’t travel like that.

    Perhaps one of the reasons that I don’t mind is that I feel like I COULD travel like that (at least sometimes), so I’m not as jealous as someone for whom such a trip is totally out of the realm of all possibilities.

  3. There’s a difference between bragging and inspiring/motivating others. I think it requires humility.

    Some people don’t have the option due to circumstances (family life, work, etc) and they like to live vicariously.

    Others might need to see someone else not much different than them can do it to give them a boost (and our vast knowledge in the process).

    I think the important thing is to know your audience. The great thing about blogs and other published mediums is people can choose to read them.

  4. I enjoy your trip reports, which are incredible and an invaluable service to your readers. But i must admit i find some of your boastful Twitter and Instagram posts to be a bit narcissistic. To be fair, TPG’s similar feeds are even more annoying.

  5. Totally agree. Any shared aspect of the experience will resonate and allow you to appreciate it; anything that seems foreign or completely out of reach tends to irritate. I remind myself to be polite when people tell me about flying on a private jet or the like, but have much less irritation about international business or generally first class. I think it is because I’ve first business class, and thought about first class but decided it wasn’t worthwhile right now.

    There is also a values issue; for some, they don’t aspire to certain kinds of travel because it doesn’t fit within their values, and so find the stories presumptuous or even offensive.

  6. While there’s unfortunately some truth to the study probably, people like that tend to not really be long term friends. I guess it does surprise people when I really probe for details about their experiences rather than generic, disinterested questions like “what was your favorite thing”.

  7. I think sometimes people get a little jealous when I post all my first class travel pics on Facebook… At least it’s a good way to see who is a real friend.

  8. The article is right, of course it is, but it doesn’t apply to your readers. We come here specifically because we’re seeking out the story of your adventures. We may not all travel at your level, but we do have the shared experience of travel, and we can enjoy the inspiration.

    But as far as old friends I’ve found the whole crabs in a bucket metaphor is pretty realistic. Many adults fear change, and they don’t accept friends doing exciting things. You learn to just STFU or give up the relationship. People who want to spend their lives discussing television episodes are, perhaps, at some point best left in the rearview mirror because they’re just going to drag you back down.

  9. I will, in all likelihood, never be able to experience Emirates First, Cathay Pacific First or Singapore Suites. However, I very much enjoy reading about Ben’s experiences. Perhaps it’s because I, too, am a commercial aviation geek.

    And I am thankfully old enough to have had experienced Senator class ( I think that’s what it was called) on a Lufthansa Lockheed Constellation plus a ride with the masses on an Aeroflot Ilyushin IL-18.

    So who’s the lucky one now!

  10. It’s all about what is meant/intended by “can relate to” with regard to this study. When we share details about our luxury trips and experiences with the rare friends who can travel comparably, even if they’ve not been to the same places, they can still relate. When we share details with most friends and family who don’t travel with the same budget, we typically share more about the experiences and sights rather than the luxury–unless they specifically ask.

    That being said, our closest friends seem to appreciate all the details–perhaps living vicariously and enviously but not judgmentally through our travels. For these people. we post photos on Facebook and often get all sorts of great, supportive comments–even though almost none can even remotely travel like we do.

    Of course, I also take pains to help educate our less traveled friends on how to use miles/points and credit cards to travel for free to wherever they might want to go. I assume that buys me some goodwill when I share our own travel details!

    Studies suggest, but they rarely prove.

  11. Friends always sound like they are bragging–they are not a travel blogger. In your case, I come here voluntarily to hear about luxury travel and get ideas. Plus, I’m jealous of friends, but not of you (no offense). ; )

    But, it is true that it is interesting to hear a friend’s take on an experience you have had as well. Then we are just comparing adventures, and I not likely to be jealous.

  12. I agree with peachfront – most of us come here for the entertainment/information provided by your Blog

    @Imperator says I see your Senator class on a Lufthansa Lockheed Constellation & offer my First Class with Trans Australia Airlines on a DC-6B + First Class on a Qantas 707, in response. Alas, I don’t have anything that compares with your flight on an Aeroflot Ilyushin IL-18 but I’m pleased you apparently survived intact.

  13. I think the article is true. I share my travels on FB, but I have so far kept pics of the ultra-luxury aspects of it off of there. I have traveled an unusual amount for my profession this year and I starting to feel like its too much to share already.

    I would love to share more because I love this hobby but sometimes discretion is warranted.

  14. I completely stopped posting anything on facebook because of this.

    I take a domestic leisure trip of 4 days every two weeks. I also take 5 leisure international trips a year. Its what I like to do. I dont spend money time or effort on much else. My starter home is stuck in 1994 decorating and maintenance. I drive a Corrolla despite the fact I could afford a better car.

    In person I don’t really ever reveal the quantity of trips I take a year unless pressed. I generally speak very little of my trips unless someone seems to be really interested. Even then it can start to become a big problem (a divide). I figure no one really cares what I do…they are involved in their own lives. I get it.

    My husband, on the other hand, “pays” his facebook friends to be intetested by having trivia contests complete with $50-$100+ prizes about his trips. I find it fascinating who participates, who doesn’t, who secretly wants to, but doesn’t, etc. It adds a whole extra dimension to the trip running the trivia contest. We sometimes get the hotel staff involved in forming the questions. They love it.

  15. A few people above commented how the level of interest dictates who the “real friends” are. I disagree.

    While everyone is probably jealous, your closer friends are more likely to be genuinely happy for you. Sure.

    But whether someone is truly interested in the details of your travel is mostly driven by how interested they are in travel in the first place. I assume that many readers on this blog hangout in circles where people fly a lot, so their best friendships may have been formed with people who also fly a lot. It’d only be weird if these “best friends” are not interested to hear about the suite classes and Park Hyatts, but them being friends is rather a result than a reason.

    I see this as similar to people posting countless baby pictures on Facebook… some of your friends will love seeing them, but many will start filtering your posts.

  16. Well… I think it depends on a situation but generally if you got an opportunity to travel in international first/business and stay at a very nice hotel, it’s important to emphasize to your friends/coworkers/whomever that you are not bragging and trying to show off your enormous bank account but rather be more relatable and explain to them that with a certain amount of effort (CC sign-up bonuses, etc.) it’s possible to upgrade a regular trip to a more luxurious experience by flying in a premium cabin, staying in a better hotel, getting some perks, etc.

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