Random Rant: “Where Are You From?”

where are you from backpackers

Random Rant: that horrible backpacker first question “Where are you from?”

Over a cup of tea today, I’m getting another one of my travel bug bears off my chest. It’s another random rant and I don’t care who disagrees with me here – but almost every traveller I meet is guilty of this one….yes you are, admit it (I used to be guilty of it too…)

bangor main street northern ireland county down jonny blair

Random Rant: Where are you From???? OK if you must know, I’m from Bangor in Northern Ireland (this is me on a rare return home, to the Main Street through the town!).

So picture the scene – you check into a new hostel and go to your room. There are people in it. Within three minutes one of them has asked you, as the FIRST ever thing they say to you: “where are you from?”. I go crazy. OK, so I tell them the answer, but is it really important? Is “where I’m from” more important than the following 4 questions?:

– What’s your name?

– How are you?

– What are your travel plans?

– Are you travelling alone?

Because to me (a person with a degree in PR and a people person) asking a person where they are from as the FIRST question or first thing you say to them is extremely rude and disrespectful of that person. I’ve done it myself of course, especially in my early backpacking days. But nowadays it’s always a handshake and “What’s your name? I’m Jonny”. Much better. Don’t ask a new person you see “where are you from?”.

So fellow travellers, today I am urging you all to STOP ASKING “Where are you from?” as the FIRST question/thing you say to a new roommate or travel buddy. Break the mould and step out of the mundane. Ask them their name.

jonny blair travels

Wearing a Northern Ireland football shirt oh that should tell you WHERE I’M FROM.

And for the record, I’m from Bangor in Northern Ireland. That’s where I’m from. You can call me Jonny – the travelling Northern Irishman, nomad, 7 continents traveller, man on a mission and the writer of the travel blog Don’t Stop Living. I sometimes (often) wear a Northern Ireland football shirt on my travels, now that SHOULD tell you where I’m from. Not many non-Northern Irish would wear one of those, believe me…

Now where’s my beer? Anyone care to join me? You can even have a random rant with me if you want!

Safe travels…

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4 thoughts on “Random Rant: “Where Are You From?”

  • Even at home I hate that question second only to having been introduced to someone new and they immediately ask, “What do you do?” (as in what is my job, the one that offers a paycheck and medical insurance

    Jonny, I usually reply with, “As little as possible, as often as I can.” And then, I flash my most dazzling smile and I walk away from them.
    Maria recently posted…Wordless Wednesday – Lord Howe IslandMy Profile

  • I agree totally Maria – I’m quite a people person and I’d rather know someone’s name than where they are from. Once you get to know them you will also find out where they are from anyway. I also like to guess using their accent so asking that question is a giveaway. I hope other travellers break the mould and ask “how are you?” or “what is your name?” a lot more often. Besides I have more than one answer to “where are you from?” (Newtownards, Bangor, Belfast, Northern Ireland, Ireland, UK, Europe, Hong Kong, my Mum’s womb…etc.)

    I was actually going to write about the question “What do you do?” as well, as unsurprisingly, I also hate it. “What do I do??” I travel the world with my girlfriend, I relax with a beer, I relax with a cup of tea, I eat food, I watch football, I read other blogs, I read books, I talk to my family. I also work for a living, but nobody wants to know that!

    “the best answers are those that DESTROY the questions”

  • Thanks for the comment Paige – almost any question that doesnt involve “where are you from?” as the introduction is better and friendlier! Safe travels, Jonny

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