09 June 2013

The Cranky Travel Agent

So, I am not a travel agent. I've told my friends that if my current career choice as a linguist doesn't work out, then I'd probably try and be a travel agent instead. But so far being a linguist works, so being a travel agent will have to wait. That being said, when close friends and family members ask for help when it comes to travel, I am more than willing to help out. With a few exceptions, of course.

So I guess I am ranting about a certain incident recently. A friend of mine, well, back in the days we were good friends, nowadays, well, we keep in touch on Facebook, but that's about it. And then apparently this friend had to travel to a European country that I have been to a few years back. And so I guess said friend was asking for things to see in said country and city. But somehow, the way the questions were asked was such that it sort of irked me.

The thing is, we now live in a era of Internet. We can find out what sights are there to see, which hotels are good, and so on. There are websites like Wikivoyage and Yelp that allow us to read about travel information, as well as see reviews in order to see whether places are good or bad.

To tell you the truth, I would have loved to do research for this person, if it was actually my job to do so. But it is not. At the same time, I wouldn't have minded going the extra mile and do the research, if this person was really close to me. But life happened, and we aren't close anymore. So I didn't feel like running searches on the Internet and seeing what things are worth seeing, how long it takes from City A to City B, and so forth. I am a busy person, and this isn't my job.

I suppose I am not out of line here. The more close we are to someone, the heavier this person's favors can be. And life isn't static either. If we were close ten years ago, that doesn't mean we're automatically still close today. Relationships don't work like that. Friendships can wither, marriages can end in divorce, close friends can become cold.

So, how did I wish this turned out? Well, at least said person could have at least done his homework, instead of approaching me with a blank slate. The last time I checked, this person is also intelligent, and can search for things on his own. After all, I cannot do the traveling for him. It is him who will check out museums, and I have no idea what he likes, given the time spent away from each other. It is him who will go ahead and see things, and enjoy them perhaps. I cannot say what to do because what I will say will be influenced by what I like, and I do not know what he likes. If I were a real travel agent, I would probably have plenty of suggestions about what to do to cater for all tastes, but again, I am not being paid to be a travel agent.

Overall, perhaps it's the feeling that I was used as a cheap source of information that irks me the most. If he were a close friend, I probably wouldn't mind, but then again, he isn't.


  1. I'm split on that. One hand, I wish my French friends were more curious about Canada. They rarely ask me questions and never ask to visit. On the other hand, I do get slightly annoyed when people (mostly on the blog) just ask questions like "where can I live in Canada?" -- duh, as if I knew... details needed!

    1. Zhu,

      I can see that. I guess if what happened was that this former close friend was asking about Berlin and where to go and see things and whether they can visit me, I'd be more open. But he was just asking about Copenhagen, which was a city I visited back in 2008, and after 5 years, I know there have been plenty of things that changed, as well as other things that are probably worth seeing but I never did. And yes, details are definitely needed. :-)

  2. If only he paid you for your services hahaha!
    I love talking about travel with others and oftentimes help out those who are planning visits to places I've been to. What I do tell them is do further research on their own as hostels might have closed down, prices might have gone up, anything and everything that could possibly change. And more importantly as you've pointed out already, I don't really know what someone's interests are. I don't want to get blamed later on, y'know.

    1. TNP,

      Haha, exactly. I don't want to get blamed later on. Questions like "Where do I stay?" and "What do I see?" really is so vague and out there that I find it hard to help.