Which type of traveler should you not be(come) |

Which type of traveler should you not be(come)

5 April 2011

All individuals have their own personality, which is good, or life would be boring.
All individuals have a natural aversion of certain other personalities, which is also good, or life would be incredibly boring.
But there are certain personalities that are just plain irritating, annoying, disturbing and aggravating to everybody. Which is bad, because they will ruin a place for everybody else.

Now I’m not a guy who believes prejudices, in fact I hate it that they exists. But what’s coming now is not a prejudice. It’s a sad but true overview of people you should avoid by any means, unless you want to test if a bad day really can’t get any worse (the answer is yes, it can, so don’t test).

The narrow minded
A couple of years ago in the Terror Museum in Budapest, Hungary I was watching a wall with photos of anti-communists who had been imprisoned and tortured in the very same building as I was standing. Next to me an old man with his grandson were watching the same wall. A grin appeared on the old man’s face and he said to the kid: “Look little Boris, those fucking bastards
got what they deserved”.
Actually, the guy was speaking Hungarian, so I have no clue what he said but it I think it was something like that.

Some people have their own ideas about certain things and they refuse at all cause to listen to people who think differently. These are the persons you see discussing with Muslims that there can only be one god, whose name is not Allah. They complain to the guide in Vietnam that the museum could at least make a large sign saying “thank you America for saving us” and they will try to convince Africans that the number of AIDS victims wouldn’t be that high if they’d stop having sex with all kinds of exotic animals.

Whatever your opinion may be, it doesn’t matter.
There can only be one truth, and it can only be theirs.

The know-it-all
The know-it-all has been everywhere. And with that I mean everywhere. And if you have also been everywhere, he or she has certainly been everywhere more than you and for a longer period.
They are more than happy to spend an evening - or five - explaining you in every detail how you should plan your itinerary for the following weeks, months or years until the end of your trip, or until death, whichever comes first.

It’s always great to receive first hand information, especially from experts on the region. The difficulty for you and me is to distinguish the real experts from the know-it-alls.
One trick is to start asking information about very remote places, or you can just invent a certain place, that might work even better.
“So, I was planning to head to Nicolastistan in Uzbekistan. Got any tips?”
The travel experts will apologise that they’ve never been there or don’t know the place, but advise you to go have a look and write them a small Facebook message if the place is any good.
The know-it-all will advise you not to go there, because the place is ugly, dirty and very smelly.

All the know-it-all actually wants is that you follow his or her footsteps, that you have the same experiences as they had and that every evening you’ll think “Damn, what a wise and well traveled person was that, I’m so lucky having met him or her”. They will also ask for a small Facebook message, so they can feel properly satisfied.

The negativist
The negativist has a lot in common with the know-it-all. They’ve also been everywhere, but you will only find them inside of hostels.
Because every place is bad.
They will try to convince you to do like them and just hang around, have some beers, take long showers so nobody else has any hot water left and pretend to be a yogi (both the yoga practitioner and the bear).

To recognize them, you’ll need to use the opposite strategy as for the know-it-all. Ask about a place that can’t be bad.
For example when in Guatemala, ask: “Do you think I should visit the ancient Maya ruins of Tikal?”. If the answer is “No, just a couple of old buildings, nobody lives there anymore”, you know you have a negativist in front of you.
Now run as fast as you can!

The misplaced snob
I didn’t want to use the term “travel snob” here, because I’m not exactly sure what it means. The misplaced snob, is a snob as we know them - expensive clothes, expensive gadgets, spends an hour in the bathroom using expensive skin products and in the meanwhile also all the hot water - who is located in a place where they don’t belong. A hostel for example.

They are not hard to recognize because you can hear their complaining from miles away.
“There’s no air conditioning in my room”
“There’s no TV in my room”
‘There are other people in my room”
“My room smells like other people”
“There’s no hot water anymore” - ha ha got you there sucker!

The reason why they appear from time to time is unknown to me. Maybe they didn’t know they were snobs? Maybe they thought the rest of the world would be the same like home?
Whatever the reason, I would advise them to either go home or to go annoy someone who gets paid for listening.

The all-round asshole
This person is a combination of all above mentioned. Pure evil if you ask me.
The good thing is that they are easily recognizable by their narrow minded, negative bragging and/or complaining.
If you can’t recognize them, you might have to take a look in the mirror.

A small side note:
You’ve probably noticed that this post doesn’t contain any photos, that is mostly because I don’t want to risk ruining your day by exposing you to evil, and also because I’ve never taken the effort to take photos of above mentioned persons.
You’ve probably also noticed that previous statement isn’t totally true because there is a small image of myself in the top left corner. It’s there for three reasons:
1. To express the level of boredom above mentioned persons cause to me.
2. If you would be one of above mentioned persons and you still own a little bit of respect for others, remember this face and try avoid all contact with it.
3. I like this picture a lot and I’ve been waiting for months to get an opportunity to use it.

Have you been in contact with one or more of those traveler types? How do you handle them?

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Elaine Thatcher's picture

Ha ha! I really enjoyed this article, mainly because I recognise every type of traveller that you write about here and they are completely annoying!!

After living in Vietnam for a couple of years I have come across a fair few tourists complaining to Vietnamese guides about the strong anti-American bias in many of the museums. I'm not quite sure what they expected to find there.

I don't particularly like the exploitative tourists either - those who try to rip-off the locals when bartering, those who steal drinks from bars where the drinks cost less than a dollar anyway, and those that get out of paying for guesthouse damage that they have caused. I even know of a traveller who kicked a massive dent in a taxi driver's door once and then refused to pay for the damage! The taxi was a reputable firm and he had not been ripped off. I dread to think about how much of that poor man's salary was lost to some drunken idiot's vandalism.

Nicolas's picture

Totally true Elaine, if I ever make a review of this post, I'll certainly add those who think that they are allowed to do everything just because they're in a different country. Such people can really ruin a place for future visitors.
The worst, in that category, are those who actually believe that they are better people than the locals, and therefore do not have to care about them.

Anyway, thanks for your comment, and let's just hope that we don't cross paths with too many of them.

Siddhartha Joshi's picture

Excellent article and very well articulated! I agree with all of it, and often its tough to handle any one of these. And any trip can turn into a disastrous one if they accompany you (its has happened with me)...

Kisha's picture

Hi nice art! i'm Kisha and i add "Like" (facebook) to your article!

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