There is always somebody who has travelled more than you. If you’ve hiked the Inca Trail, they’ve conquered Ciudad Perdida on a unicycle; you made it to the frozen tip of the Tierra del Fuego, while they rode a humpback whale all the way to the Antarctic; you nursed a Serengeti lion cub back to health, but they breastfed an albino hippopotamus and now ride it to the latest pop-up gourmet hard-boiled egg restaurant.
It’s not unheard of to fake a gap year, and almost everybody exaggerates what they get up to while backpacking. If you’re stuck at home but want the kudos of always being the best-travelled person in the room, whatever your actual experience, you might need to get liberal with the truth.
Study a world map
You need to know the capital city of Bhutan, the border countries of South Sudan, and the difference between Burma and Myanmar, so you can show off your obscure knowledge at the drop of a hat, even if nobody asked for it.
Learn a handful of pointless foreign words
How to order a beer in Thailand, how to order a beer in Germany, how to order a beer in Kenya, how to order a beer in…
Practice laughing at fake memories
Follow these steps whenever anybody mentions Thailand: adopt a misty-eyed stare; smile wryly and slightly shake your head; say ‘oh, dude, never again.’ Nobody will ever guess that all you did in Thailand was pass out on the beach and shit yourself.
Build a library of stock travel photos and superimpose your face onto a few. Recommended poses include: modestly petting an elephant, standing before a viewpoint with your arms thrown wide, or playing acoustic guitar to a group of school children.
Get a green screen
If you want to take your image manipulation skills to the next level, a green screen allows you to completely convincingly put yourself anywhere in the world. Just remember to change your clothes accordingly for every shot.
Steal other peoples’ stories
Did you hear about the girl who had a fistfight with a honey badger in Brazil after licking a toxic rainforest toad? Of course you did – it was you.
Be disparaging about all food
At every single meal, give your plate a withering glare and say ‘I wish this was pad thai.’ If it is pad thai, it’s too expensive/not authentic/not as good as in Bangkok (pick one).
Learn to copy passport stamps
Passport stamps = ultimate gloating rights. Look them up online and etch them into your passport. You could even consider making up a country as the ultimate trump card.
Convert everything into baht
Whenever a mate buys something, inform them that in Uzbekistan the same amount would buy ‘a barrel of vodka, an AK-47, and the Minister of Agriculture’s eldest daughter’.
Keep some foreign coins in your pocket
‘Accidentally’ take them out whenever it’s your turn to pay for a drink. Make sure everybody sees.
Become sentimental about tea
If you drink a cup of tea in front of anybody, gaze lovingly at the cup and announce loudly between sips how much you missed it.
Tell people you ‘found yourself’
It doesn’t mean anything, so nobody can call you on it.
Add random people on Facebook
If anybody asks, you met them on the road and experienced a fleeting yet unbreakable bond with each and every one. Actual friends getting suspicious? Create fake accounts and chat with yourself.
Wear a vest top and shorts at inappropriate times
You might be in line for a kebab, on a blind date, or a pallbearer at a funeral; wearing a vest (preferably for a foreign beer brand) and shorts can leave no doubt that you’ve travelled.
Buy some cheap tat from a flea market
Decorate your room with random crystals, elephants carved from coconut shells, and jars of sand labelled ‘Bali’ and ‘Atacama’. You acquired them while travelling, and they’re the only possessions you’d rescue from a fire.
Nothing impresses you anymore
You’ve seen everything the world has to offer. If a friend is impressed by something, it’s your duty to look upon them with disdain.
You’re unemployed because you quit your job to travel
You’re a free-spirit, not a nine-to-five drone! All your friends with cars, houses, relationships, happiness and wellbeing are total idiots!