During my last trip there were several moments where fellow travelers did things that ranged from ok probably not the best to are they actually serious? I’m not going to get into every single annoying travel experiences or stereotypes of people from different countries, but rather what I encountered during the last few weeks which I found cringe worthy.
I find that on day trips there are usually 1 or 2 people who don’t understand the concept of being at the bus at a certain time. Well, funny thing about time is that if you make everyone wait for 15 minutes so you can take a bajillion more selfies, that 15 minutes either comes out of the next stop or the tour will end late. If that happens at 4 stops, we’re an hour off. Some people have trains or buses or other arrangements that will be affected. And, some of us don’t relish waiting on the bus for your inconsiderate self to show up. On my day trip to the Cliffs of Moher, there were 3 girls who we nearly left behind because they thought it was funny they were late. Luckily our awesome tour guide cracked down on them and started singing the U2 song “with or without you” to explain how things would work when we left the next stop.
2. Phone Use.
Keeping in touch with people while traveling is fine, but you should not be facebooking during a live concert. I don’t mean just taking a picture and posting it. I’m talking about a person just standing at a small intimate live show with their head down, scrolling through their newsfeed completely zoned out. The worst part is that they loved the show and when they weren’t facebooking they were taking constant video and talking to their friend about how much they loved it. As the unfortunate person stuck behind this, I was less excited as I’m not the tallest, and my view of the band was continually blocked my this person’s facebook. The bright glare of the screen in the dark room was distracting and their behavior was just rude. If you want to check your phone constantly, go to the back. If you want to take a video that’s fine -but you’re not a videographer and odds are good you’re never going to watch the 547 videos you just took. Be aware that you’re disrupting the people around you who actually try to enjoy real life as it’s happening. Also – don’t freaking wear a “fashion” backpack to a standing live show. There’s no room for that –you’ll be bumping into everyone constantly – you don’t need to bring a backpack of things (what do you have in there anyway? A bunch of battery backups for your constant phone use?) and also – umm.. It’s not 1992 take that thing off.
3. The Free Tour Snub.
I know most of us are traveling on a budget, but I have some news – the free walking tours offered in nearly every city are NOT free. *gasp*. Please understand that Sandeman’s and all of the other companies offering free tours are working on tips. Much like waitresses in the States, those people count on the tips for a living and it is expected that you tip. If you’re not sure what to tip, look up comparable tours in the area that do charge to get an idea of the going rate. Free tours are still a great deal because most of the guides are high energy and a lot of fun, knowing they have to earn your money. Don’t jip them! If you have no money at all you shouldn’t go. End of story. I know it’s not always possible to tip as much as you would like to – but a free tour should be something you work into your travel budget. Which leads me to #4…
4. Currency Arrogance.
If you are in a country with a currency that is not your own, they have these helpful things called currency exchanges in airports. There are also things called ATM’s which will give you appropriate currency. Yes, there are some countries which use several currencies, or where you can pay in alternate forms and it’s acceptable. That’s not the case everywhere. In Porto I witnessed an adult man tip our tour guide $1.00 US dollar for himself, his wife, and daughter for a 3 hour walking tour. Terrible, horrific, embarrassing tipping aside, what the hell is the guide going to do with your 1 sad little crumpled up American dollar? Do you imagine him driving himself an hour to the airport and then paying an exchange fee to get 20 cents? No, of course not. He’s going to sit it in a drawer somewhere and never use it. You’re in Europe sir, they use the Euro. It’s in the name.
5. Painfully Stupid.
I get that not everyone knows a lot about a place before traveling there. Sometimes that’s part of the fun. I’ll admit that before going to Porto I didn’t know very much about the city. That being said… I think most of us can use some common sense when it comes to the questions we ask. One cringe worthy question the same idiot from #4 asked was “So did Brazil have a big impact on Portugal, and that’s why Portugal also speaks Portuguese because they got it from Brazil?”. Oh man. Really? Portugal. Portuguese. Brazil. Which of those two words sound similar to you? Couldn’t even sound that one out? The guide just replied with “actually Portugal had a pretty big impact on Brazil”. This man clearly missed every history class and didn’t supplement with common sense. The man’s daughter clearly spent about as much time in history/common sense class as her father. When the guide asked who we thought Portugal’s biggest ally had been years ago she chimed in with “Spain”. Well no, actually, they spent a lot of time trying to invade / take over Portugal. Did that really take anyone by surprise. Really – no idea that Spain tried that a bunch of times? When you don’t know the answer sometimes it’s better not to guess.
6. The Sing Along.
This one goes out to my constantly on the phone girl from #2. Singing along with bands is fun. I do it. Sometimes the band will even invite the crowd to sing along. What I don’t do is use my loudest possible opera voice to belt out louder than the actual band and the rest of the crowd combined. During the last few songs played by my new fave band, The Young Folk, the band got down in the middle of the crowd to play a few acoustic songsm which was awesome. One of the songs the crowd joined in on was quiet and basically a whisper. And then, to my right was the opera bird blasting out the highest “notes”. Even if she had been a good singer (big if) it’s not your show. Sometimes blending in is good. Also, the singer is good, let him do it.
7. Where are you Staying?
If I meet someone traveling we’ll probably chat about things like hostels and hotels after we’ve become acquainted. If you are a man I’ve never met, please don’t walk up to me out of the blue and ask me where I’m staying. I try to be polite and just say “in town” or something vague. If you keep asking I’ll let you know I’m actually not going to tell you since that’s totally sketchy. Also please stop asking that question you creep!
8. Selfie Stick Awareness
Personally I’m just not on board with the “selfie stick” in general. I understand if you’re traveling solo on top of a mountain with no other humans it might come in handy. But most of the people I see with them are knocking about and nearly hitting other people with them in an effort to get their selfie. You know what – that person you almost hit could have taken that picture for you. I ask strangers to take my picture all of the time. It’s not hard, and sometimes you strike up a conversation. It’s a bit sad how much we seem to be veering away from these normal human interactions. But alas, if you must have one please don’t hold it in front of my face so you can get the picture I was about to take. Also you’ll most likely get eye rolls from most of the people around you who are brave enough to take a picture the good old fashioned way.
9. Hi I’m from America
Just a reminder that there is a North, Central, & South America. If you’re from the US, you should say that.
10. Why aren’t you Traveling Longer?
When traveling for a few weeks I often get this question. It’s usually coming from an Australian or New Zealander who’s been on the road for 9 months and plans on spending another year on the go. This one always bugs me a bit. I don’t know, I guess you just have more money than me. Also I have a job where I have to show up and do things.
These are a few of the pet peeves I experienced while traveling in the past few weeks. I’m sure the list could be more extensive – but this is my current public service announcement, and gripes.
Ok. Rant over.
What bugs you when you travel?