6 Terrible Travelers Who Turn Any Vacation Into A Nightmare
Too often when we travel we meet people who just seem like they want to ruin your day by telling you how much better of a traveler they are. Or how much more deeply connected to a place they've become. Or how this town is overrun with too many tourists now (but they aren't tourists; they're real travelers).
After over 10 years of travel, I've learned one thing above all else: When you travel, you're bound to meet some major assholes who think their shit doesn't stink. And after years of involuntary research, I've identified six types of travelers that deserve a punch in the face:
The Spiritual Hippie Traveler
Usually white and Western, the hippie globetrotter explores the world to develop a deeper connection to it, like an an entire foreign country will rise to his aid when he's in a bar fight back home. When he's not studying local religions and customs, he spends his time reading books on Buddhism, Kabbalah, or Yoga and droning on about how entwined life is and how much better your travels will be if you would just give up material possessions and not shower the whole time and occasionally French kiss the soil as a thank you.
Or rub your junk on a tree.
They're out to connect with the world and will rant about cultural imperialism, all while watching the latest Hollywood movies. Their holier-than-thou attitude can't be kept to themselves and, within in five minutes, they will instruct you in the benefits of veganism and why tourists ruin local cultures, niftily reshaping the definition of "tourist" to exclude themselves.
You'll be able to listen to them lecture locals who have no money about why money doesn't matter. Meanwhile, their housesitter watches over their cold and expansive manor back home.
Too many travelers turn spending, or the lack thereof, into a competition. "Ohh, you traveled through India on $10 a day? You overspent, because I did it with $1.50 and made it back with 4 cents to spare!"
They are smugly superior about how little they spend and refuse to be outdone. They constantly look for the lowest price and will haggle with some poor vendor over 10 cents. They can always find the money to drink but will eat nothing but cheap pasta and stay in a hostel with the rest of the unwashed Ivy-Leaguers backpacking Europe like they aren't a partner at a law firm.
"All my cash is tied up in weed-dispensary investments."
They will tell you about all the time they've spent in Italy but never saw the Vatican because that costs money, and they'll claim that's not "what travel is all about, man." Because apparently it's really about throwing a fit whenever someone suggests buying a souvenir. I met a guy in Rome who was so cheap that he went to Italy and didn't eat the food. That's like going to a strip club and covering your eyes the whole time.
Their logic makes no sense, and, as you can imagine, they're awful to travel with. What's more fun than a travel buddy whose every word and action drips with the anxiety of financial insecurity. They're walking panic attacks waiting to happen. An unplanned stop for gelato and they can snap, making them ask you if money grows on trees, even though you're only about 78 percent sure it doesn't.
What's the point of traveling the world if you can't experience any part of it because you're too concerned about pinching pennies?
Sporting sunglasses, shorts, flip-flops, and a beer logo T-shirt, the traveler partyholic spends most of his time getting drunk in every country he visits. Very boisterous, these nocturnal creatures bounce from one party destination to another. Most of their day is spent nursing the previous night's hangover while avoiding loud and brightly lit areas.
They walk around their destination drinking all day and don't respect local culture. To them, a country's culture begins and ends with the quality of its beer. Their personal opinion of the country is based on how little of the trip they remember. If they're missing more than a few nights, the place must have been great.
They care about shots, and they care about where the beautiful people hang out. They make loud noises, shit in your dorms, and take things to the extreme. They don't understand moderation, because in their minds this could be the last time they can ever get trashed in Denmark, so they'd better pound the local jet fuel extra hard.
Paint thinner and rubbing alcohol with a twist of lime.
They are the people who burst into your dorm at 4 a.m. and wake you up, so drunk that you have to take care of them since they can't take care of themselves. No one travels thousands of miles to make sure someone doesn't puke on themselves. For that, they could have stayed home with a case of Pabst and a Chipotle burrito.
The Better Traveler
While sipping on a Coke in an Internet cafe, this specimen will tell you just how insincere and hypocritical all other travelers are and how they are simply tourists who aren't really trying to enjoy the local culture. These are the pretentious douchebags who mask themselves in the scent of the local scene to blend in from the moment they step off the plane, like the locals are going to eat them if they don't.
They will speak about their experiences taking local transportation and living in a village for a single day. They'll wax on about the death of local cultures and how they're really out there traveling to be part of the world and not to force their culture down other people's throats. And then they will tell you how everything you are doing is wrong and instruct you in the ways to improve your travels.
"Don't forget: When in Italy, rip loud, slappy farts all the time. It shows you liked the meals."
They'll say you didn't really see Thailand since you didn't sleep in some local family's shed and hunt street rats for food. This type of traveler really hates that your definition of living out your dream isn't exactly the same as theirs. And it doesn't stop when they get back home. It's the same attitude, but now it's about local bands and trendy microbreweries.
The "Remember When" Backpacker
This guy has been traveling a long time and can't wait tell you all about how he remembers when the Full Moon Party used to be good ("it's just too crowded now") and how Laos is too popular to be worth the trip. He'll talk about the good old days when no one had ever heard of Perth, and if you even mentioned Perth in public people would think you were just lisping your way through the word "purse."
Pictured: Perth, Australia.
He can never explain why he's still traveling if he hates it so much, but he'll spend hours talking your ear off while he points out how good things used to be. This is the person who for years tells everyone he knows how great a country is and then gets pissed that a bunch of people decided to actually go.
He's depressing and obnoxious, and you don't need to listen to him since you're here at the destination -- now, not 10 years ago. Focus on making this the moment to yearn for, the moment that will make people jealous for years. Focus on making right now the best time as it's ever been to be where you are.
The Picky Eaters
We all have dietary restrictions and preferences, but trying new food is an essential part of the travel experience. When someone invites you into their home to share their local cuisine, eat it. Even if it looks like death and smells like death's morning breath, eat it.
There's nothing worse than traveling with people who won't eat the native food because they think it's gross (though, of course, they have never tried it). It's simply awful watching them insult your new friends by saying, "I just don't eat that kind of food," as if the local food is beneath their own familiar cuisine. And when they look at a menu in China and ask, "Do they have burgers here?" you can't help but think to yourself, "Why the fuck did you leave home if all you want to do is eat your own food?!"
"You know what they say: When in Rome, eat the cheeseburgers."
It has to be fear-based. Being somewhere new is scary enough for them, and now they've got to chew on all new flavors and textures? Nope. That's too much of a new thing, and it has to be chewed and swallowed.
The best traveling companions are the ones that will just enjoy a place with you. They are the ones looking to open themselves up to new experiences, but it's inevitable that you'll meet one of the travelers described above who seem bent on ruining your trip.
The next time someone starts harping on your travel choices or giving you grief, the best way to deal with it is to turn the conversation around on them -- tell them part of being a traveler is being open-minded and that if they can't respect your choices, the conversation is over. Call them out on their crap and don't let them get away with ruining everyone's good time.
Or just abandon them in a secluded area.
And then walk away so you can enjoy a beer, some weird food, and a tourist destination with some hottie you've just met.
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