If you're going to be a snob abroad it's essential to follow the rules
by Kerrin O'Sullivan
It is difficult to be both a tourist and a snob, or so the great writer Paul Fussell once claimed. Nevertheless it is a worthy ambition and one that I am prepared to help you with.
I do not refer to the kind of traveller who is off hiking the trails of Tibet in search of spiritual wisdom and a quiet cave, nor the one in the desert at Wadi Rum helping Bedouins herd goats. Nor even the chap in Kathmandu who has been so busy stocking up with ropes and ice-picks and oxygen bottles for the K2 climb that he hasn't yet made it to the monkey temple.
I am talking about your garden variety holidaymaker who affects to be something other than that and who feels compelled to let mere tourists know of their inferiority. Because this is a difficult distinction and requires not only a particular mindset but training and dedication, I offer you this primer on how you, too, can become a tourist snob:
1. Never carry a camera. If asked why, reply "My mind is my camera." Where possible, approach and reprimand those who do.
2. Don't count your passport stamps in public. So gauche. Wait until you are on the Budapest-Belgrade leg of the Balkan Express, go to the restroom and admire your Mongolian antelope stamp there.
3. If you must go to Paris's EuroDisney, as you will, ride Space Mountain but hide the photo of you screaming with ecstasy in the trolley car. Afterwards, sneer at those queuing to embark. As you leave, accidentally drop your brochure on abseiling in the Bois de Boulogne.
4. When in Salzburg, decline all touts offering tickets on The Sound of Music Tour but book secretly - it's fantastic. If sprung by a tour group while at the gazebo, start singing "I am 16, going on 17" and say you are rehearsing for your part as Liesl in the Buenos Aires production that opens next month.
5. If you happen to find yourself in a Club med, never admit you are having a holiday like everyone else. At the Polynesian dance night announce loudly that you are an eminent anthropologist studying a phenomenon called Tourist Swarming and, between sinking Singapore Slings and hula-hula-ing, look as if you are taking notes.
6. While in Amsterdam, skip Ann Frank's house and go straight to the house of Ann Frank's second cousin who worked in a cheese factory in Gouda.
7. Likewise in Rome, bypass the Spanish Steps at the top of Via Condotti and try to find the Portugese Steps that no one knows about. That way, you can tell everyone back home about the cute little gelataria near the piazza that was past the pasticceria but behind the basilica, which serves the best granita in all of Italy and what a pity they missed it (even if you did, too).
8. Finally, when asked where you are from, instead of answering West Perth or North Adelaide, slip on your sunglasses, adopt a pained expression and mutter, "I'm abroad so much, that's really hard to say."
Never forget that although you may look like every other tourist on this planet you are special and so deserve special treatment. Seize every opportunity to bring this to the attention of those you meet. Remind them that you have paid good money to be there. Tourist operators the world over just love that.
© 2012 Kerrin O’Sullivan