How To Tell Amazing Travel Stories Without Sounding Arrogant

How To Tell Amazing Travel Stories

The week I returned from South Africa, coworkers stopped by my desk asking about my trip.

My reply was always the same.

“It was awesome.”

After a pause, they asked some variant of, “So, you had a great time?”  I nodded and smiled.

“Welcome back,” they said before walking away.

Each time, I missed a chance to connect.  I was keeping my coworkers from the joys of shark cage diving or standing on table top mountain or taking a journey through Nelson Mandela’s life.

All because a voice in my head cautioned me not to sound like a braggart.  It said that people would be jealous of my travels.

Has that voice ever whispered to you?

Why Travel Stories Must Be Shared

Story telling is the most powerful form of information sharing.

Through telling my stories with loved ones, I’ve directly and indirectly influenced them to get passports, take their first international trips or travel more often.  Such good things happened from those conversations that I knew I needed to push myself to share travel stories with my coworkers.

Stories build connections between you and others.  Listeners get a picture of who you are and it improves rapport.  You’re also able to let people know what you’re interested in so that when they run across travel opportunities – you come to mind.

Stories add a little sunshine.

Great stories engage us, change our mood and take us away from the humdrum of life.  Super storytellers get their message across better and people retain the information longer.

Eight Tips To Tell Your Travel Story

Use these tips to tell your story without watering it down and without sounding arrogant.

Imagine You’re Talking To A Friend

You get extra points if you imagine that it’s a traveling friend.

Humans unconsciously read and imitate body language.  If you’re uncomfortable with the exchange, others will pick up on it and they will become uncomfortable.


Use an upbeat tone, excited expression and animated hand gestures to bring listeners into the story.

Keep It Simple

Besides Mom, no one wants to hear about the entire trip.

Unless something spectacular happened at the airport, hotel check-in or the first day of exploration, you can skip right along to the good stuff.  By keeping the story short you can add a lot of “wow” into a short interaction that will have listeners suspended until the end.

Plus, by knowing when to cut it short, you don’t go from engaging to arrogant.  Give them enough for a memorable story, and you’ll have a good foundation to build on in the future.

Use Humor

Pull out the rubber chickens if you have them.

Even if your story isn’t stand-up comedian funny, humor can be created in your tone, facial expressions and gestures.  Laughing feels good, and the more you’re able to get a smile out of people, the better they will like you.

Why is this?

Some smart scientists have proven that laughing produces endorphins, a chemical that lowers stress and increases happiness.

Have A Conflict

Every adventure has a conflict.

Conflicts add excitement and shows that you are human – just like the listener. 

The conflict can be as simple as nervousness of being in a place without knowing the language or as momentous as almost getting stranded during a cruise stop.

Show your vulnerability and others will relate to you better.

Explain By Showing

Don’t ramble off a list of your destinations and activities.

Take the listener on a trip through your memory.  Use lots of descriptions and imagery to show the highlights of the trip.

The best stories use images that evoke all the senses: sight, smell, taste, touch and sight.

Ask A Question

The right question can turn an unengaged and somewhat grudging listener, into a supporter and travel ally.

Now, you may not be a master question-asker like Oprah, but with a good question, you can make your listener feel like he’s an equal in the conversation.  Ask a close ended question so that the listener can reply yes or no, and you can clarify or continue with your story.

Alternatively, if your question struck a chord, you can share the spotlight while they share a relatable moment or story of their own.

Add Something Personal

Did you miss your cat?  Are you planning to make a return trip and take your Dad along?

To keep the Haters away, include something personal in your stories that shows who you are outside of travel.  This switches the focus to a topic that someone who doesn’t travel can relate to.

Sharing something personal leads to more dialogue and rapport building if the person also has a cat or a Dad who’s been asking for a faraway vacation.

Always End With Gratitude

This will kill any negative thoughts the person had about you.

Award winners have been doing this for ages.  They go onstage and thank their creator, their Momma, the lady who prepared their lunch in kindergarten.  And the resulting applause is heartfelt.

End on a gracious note.

Say how fortunate you were to have the opportunity, say how lucky you were to have had a good time, thank the listener for managing your projects while you were away.

Show gratitude and others will be happy for your travels.
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It’s crazy how I could share my travel experiences with Awe Inclusive readers, but I choked when speaking with casual acquaintances.  It took some time for me to feel nearly as comfortable sharing in person as I did behind a computer screen.  When telling your stories, you’ll get better with practice and you’ll be able to weave in and out of experiences with ease.  Give it a shot and happy storytelling.
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photo © Sonny Absamis