Young couple taking a selfie in front of a temple in Thailand
Student Life

Travelling doesn’t make you a better person

By Jesse Barrett

Travelling doesn’t make you a better person or better at life. At best travel is a cool hobby you have.  

Let me explain. We’ve all met a person who has done a lot of travelling – you know the type. They talk about what they have experienced, how it’s made them a better person, how everyone should travel and experience other cultures.  

Travelling is great, I love to travel.  Some of my best memories are from travelling. But it has never helped me improve my personality, be less angry, more forgiving, kinder, more honest, or even more helpful. There has never been a time that I have heard of someone going “wow, I’m glad I went to Germany because it taught me to be compassionate” or “I’m glad I travel to Bali because showed me that life is precious”. At best you most likely got drunk with your friends and posted some cool photos on Instagram.  

Just to clarify: if you want to go travelling with your friends great. If you want to post photos on Instagram, fantastic. Travelling is not a higher calling and you shouldn’t think you’re better than everyone for doing it.  

Travelling can ruin the beauty of the sites and tourists can disrespect the culture. Often tourists are very disrespectful. They litter, damage and can be rude to the locals. At their worst, travellers damage sites just to put their initials on ancient landmarks, damage art just for a selfie.  and strip naked to photograph themselves at sacred sites.

Tourists behaving badly: disrespecting Auschwitz.

Not to mention the carbon footprint that the planes have. The travel sector accounts for 8 per cent of global emissions and that’s increasing by 4 per cent annually, according to This is not sustainable for the long term. 

Travelling is not a quick way to become a better person. There are no quick ways to be a better person. There are ways you can try to be a better traveller. Put your camera down and live in the moment, be respectful to buildings … and that means no touching! And do your best to truly understand the different ways people live in the world.

Featured image: Tourists take selfies in Thailand. Photo by Peggy Marco/CC/Pixabay

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