How To Deal With Negative People While Traveling

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a depressed traveler behind a window, pondering how to deal with negative people while traveling.

I’ve seen it throughout my travels. I’ve experienced it everywhere on the road. The longer I’ve stayed in one place, the more noticeable it has become. Negativity abounds in every city or country I’ve visited. It can be incredibly hard to deal with negative people while traveling, and I’ve seen many give up and go home for no reason other than being totally discouraged as a result of it. Magical as the experience of travel can be, it does come at a cost and I want to share ways that have helped me deal with this demon.

I’ve experienced negativity while traveling on two fronts: my work and my personal life.

What’s helped me deal with negative people while traveling is, first of all, accepting the fact that everyone is exposed to it. The negativity of sour crabs isn’t directed at only me or you, but at everyone. A negative person lashes out at their environment in its entirety and most oftentimes indiscriminately, for reasons I’m sure are too long to debate.

Don’t bother trying to decipher their reasons, focus on yourself.

Understanding and accepting the fact that you are not the only one who is the exposed to vitriol or negativity is the first step. What’s also helped me is the socializing aspect of travel.

I currently am in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

This is a city brimming with opportunity and creative meetings.

But along with that comes an exceptional exposure to negativity from people who may be:

  • Negative towards you personally (personal), or
  • Jealous of your achievements (work).

Separating and understanding the two helps. Let me start with negativity relating to your work. You will likely experience a backlash of negativity in your work, especially if you are, or become, successful at what you do. There is a great deal of resentment out there against those who’ve “made it”, even in a constructive environment like Chiang Mai.

A beautiful temple at the end of Walking Street in Chiang Mai at dusk.
One of my first experiences in Chiang Mai, the walking street market. It’s hard to believe negativity can ooze from a city like this one.

Again, this has nothing to do with you and centers solely on the darker aspects of some people’s heart. It certainly isn’t the nature of all hearts.

Circling around to negativity on a personal level: people may be negative on a personal level because of your social status, a beautiful girlfriend/boyfriend you have, or any number of other selfish reasons. There are ways to dampen the impact that such people have on you, but there is no way of fully avoiding the comments.

Here are some tips that’ve helped me deal with negative people while traveling:

Don’t Show Off

As much as I want to scream my achievements from a mountaintop, I opt for silence instead, and I recommend you do too. I don’t want to attract undue negativity or distractions. I accept the darker aspect of people’s envious nature, but I prefer not having to deal with it altogether. Don’t show your money off, don’t show your achievements off. As a matter of fact, don’t show anything off.

Choose Your Friends Wisely

When you’re abroad and excited, you naturally want to share your excitement and experiences with others. You’ll befriend people who seem outwardly awesome, only to later find out they are anything but that.

Friends drinking on Bui Vienh street in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. They are posing for pictures; both foreigners and local Vietnamese.
We meet great folks on our journey; excitement may blind us at first as to anyone’s true nature.

I’ve found out that it’s a lot better to be polite and smile, than to get close to too many people at once. Taking it slow and easy, and really analyzing friendships, has helped me forge quality, value-added relationships.

Don’t Opine Forcibly

I’ve found that a lot of people here have been the target of negativity because of their opinion, or more precisely, because of forcing an opinion onto others. Not to say you shouldn’t have an opinion about things, everyone does–but respecting others’ point of view goes a long way in attracting positive vibes. The old sales paradigm feel, felt, found is a great way to circumvent others’ negativity by lending credence to their opinions. For example: “Will, I understand how you feel, I totally felt that way about Amazon FBA too at first because…(etc etc)… however, I found that..”

Listening and showing genuine empathy, even if your opinion differs, goes a very long way. 

For those of you who put yourself out there with blogs, vlogs, or social media, rest assured you will get people trolling your posts. Everyone in your shoes gets trolled. More importantly, don’t seek confrontation. Take the high road, as much as you want to get down and dirty. The fact a troll is unhappy with themselves should never be allowed to affect you.

If traveling in a group or settling in a foreign country temporarily, I recommend you choose your circle of acquaintances wisely. I avoid adding people on Facebook unless I truly know they contribute positively to my journey. Continuous drama should be a red flag. I’ve had to personally make some hard choices; people I’d known for years had suddenly turned sour. I was forced to sever long-standing relationships in the name of positivity.

The Red Sea of coastal Saudi Arabia near Jeddah. The water is bright blue with underwater coral reefs visible, and a beach in the background.
Where my foreign journey first began, the sands of coastal Saudi Arabia.

Your journey is your gift to yourself. You are out there doing things many could only dream of doing. Negativity will follow you, certain as your shadow will.

Everyone gets exposed to it, and prevention is better than the cure.

How do you deal with negative people while traveling? Has someone’s negativity significantly affected you during parts of your journey? How did you overcome it?

Additional resources I highly recommend:


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4 comments on “How To Deal With Negative People While Traveling

  1. Well written and so good tips you shared to handle negative people. they always decrease us and now i can handle them with your tips.

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