journal

Being not-a-snob

I had a thought that if anyone is ever introduced to me as an ancient historian, I will be privately glancing at their face for lines, to see if they truly are one.*


Recently, I was exploring a thrift store and found some Lonely Planet travel guides. Likely they had been cast aside as they were editions from 2007 (Peru) and 2010 (Egypt).

Rumour has it that there exists a breed of people who delineate between “travellers” and “tourists”. They count themselves as the former and look down their noses at LP guides. Something about avoiding the commonness of mass tourism.

(By the way, I learnt that English word “vulgar” comes from the Latin word vulgus, meaning common people.)

I don’t have a problem with people having very particular tastes about things. Seems to me it’s about judging quality, which can be very useful for getting some opinions in choosing the better experiences/items to buy, or even honing a skill.

I went ahead and got the Lonely Planet books anyway, because:

a) I have visited <5 countries in my life and would not make a very good travel snob. Also,

b) the guides were $4, and

c) most importantly, each include chapters titled ‘History’ and ‘Culture’ at the beginning. I thought these chapters alone would be good introductory passages to read – especially to become acquainted with Peru, which is full of archaeological riches, but which I couldn’t have pointed to on a map before today.

And so I think they are useful, even if the books are outdated and the bread-and-breakfast hotels described in the later chapters have long disappeared.

I hope everyone is approaching a great weekend. Anyone have strong feelings about Lonely Planet, Peru/Egypt, interesting word roots, vanished businesses, snobby/plebeian tastes?


* Scholars of ancient history have likely heard some form of this joke enough times, but I only recently thought of it so I’m putting it here.

Image credit: photo is mine, for once.

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18 thoughts on “Being not-a-snob

  1. My wife and I have been all over the world, excepting South America …. apart from Venezuela, and mostly used LP guides for the culture and history of places we would visit. I think that’s been the point of the traveller-tourist distinction with travellers taking the time to research the culture, absorb it on arrival, meet people, respect traditions, eat local, drink local.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Speaking of myself, I guess I’m more of a traveller than a tourist (not that I look down on the latter at all). While it is good to go off the beaten path, it’s also a good idea to understand the lay of the land. Besides, before living in Thailand, I made sure to read it up on Lonely Planet in order to have a clearer idea what my life would be like there and what there is to see.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. The travel books sound interesting. I have only been to 2 countries outside the US – Canada and Mexico (both before passports were required). I’m hoping to get back to Canada this year (COVID permitting). We had planned to take a world tour but this pandemic has really put a crimp in our plans! Hope you can eventually make it to Peru!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I haven’t read any of the Lonely planet books but I think I’ve seen them in stores. It’s interesting that the history and culture part of these books remains (fairly) timeless while the other part of the book that includes restaurants etc quickly becomes outdated, since places are constantly going out of business.

    Liked by 1 person

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