Here’s what you need to remember when you return from any trip: No one wants to hear your travel stories. No one. Not your doting parents who usually hang on your every word. Not your therapist who is paid big bucks to listen. Even the guy whose life you saved in the tsunami won’t even feign interest.
Of course, they’re worthless scum for not giving your stories the attention they deserve, but take heart. There is a solution. People will actually be eager to hear about your latest escapade as long as it includes a disastrous event, and the more disastrous the better.
Lost luggage is so-so. Getting lost is better. Getting lost in the wild where your only buddies are bugs—some as big as burritos—beats getting lost in a big city by a long shot. Excruciating pain is another sure-fire winner. Throw in some blood, even a spoonful will do, and you’ll have a rapt audience.
What trumps all of the above? You can’t do much better than a I-nearly-got-killed episode. What’s not surprising is that some near-death experiences have more cachet than others. A quirky semi-dangerous event such as one involving a cantankerous crocodile snoozing on a riverbank that you mistook for a rolled up rug puts you ahead of the game.
But I think you know all this. Reporters certainly do. They even have an expression for this sort of phenomenon: “if it bleeds, it leads.” They know a news article headlined Adventurer Cuts Off His Own Arm in Climbing Accident wins hands down every time over Local Couple Honeymoons in Bali after Nine-Hour Airport Delay.
If all went well on Jon Krakauer's Mt. Everest climbing expedition he wouldn’t have written the bestseller Into Thin Air. The Perfect Storm by Sebastian Junger was both a hot book and an even hotter movie. The Perfect Day for Fishing would still be stashed in the bottom drawer of Sebastian’s desk.
Okay, so you’ve just returned from a trip. Through no fault of your own, it was humdrum. Nothing much happened. Even every seatmate on every flight had you snoozing in seconds. What should you do? Do what wily travelers the world over do: exaggerate, embellish, imply.
Believe me, you won’t be the first. I’m positive even Christopher Columbus amped it up more than a smidgen when he was sweet-talking Queen Isabella into financing his second voyage to the New World. Did he even go so far as to tell some whoppers? Mebbe so.
I also suspect explorer Sir Walter Raleigh often stretched the truth until it snapped. Word on the street is that this scalawag spent hours whispering in Queen Elizabeth’s ear about his voyages to our eastern shores. I would not be surprised to find out that Walt was the bubba behind the rumor that the streets in America are paved with gold.
It’s up to you. Tell the truth and be ignored or exaggerate your stories to the max and have your friends clamoring for more. Who is it going to hurt? Of course, if Sebastian Junger or Jon Krakauer are in the room, fugettaboutit.
Oh my god—I’ve got to stop. The ceiling panel of this airplane just started to peel back! Just kidding. I just wanted to show you how a little dose of drama can get you lots of attention.
Rumor has it that Dolores Banerd, a resident of Los Angeles and frequent flyer, is so desperate to get friends and family to listen to her travel stories that she actually tries to bribe them. When reached by phone, Dolores vigorously denied this rumor calling it vicious and vindictive.