The 5 habits of highly irritating travellers

1. Getting up before the fasten seat belt sign is switched off and other heinous crimes

What is this about? Are you trying to demonstrate a rebellious streak or that you are in such a hurry due to your oh-so-important life that you can’t do anything so petty as actually obey a safety rule?

Either way you’ll still have to wait with the rest of us. You are also the first passenger to turn on their mobile phone so we get to hear that ‘new message’ sound. You know that we all get that one telling us about call costs at our destination, right?

But the rest of us do enjoy watching you creating the basis for a future spinal curvature problem while stooping there crushed under the overhead lockers having sprung up from your window seat. And you’ll undoubtedly stand in front of the ‘stand back’ line at baggage reclaim and on the return flight stand waiting impatiently at the gate intimidating the staff with your impatience.

Look, you ain’t going nowhere until the last passenger is on that plane and you already have your seat reserved. Do you think the ground crew are going to give you an upgrade for sweating on their counter?

2. Stopping abruptly to read a map or take pictures

This generally happens in really busy places like Oxford Street or the New York subway and is a sure-fire way to really p*** off the locals (and other tourists for that matter). Check behind first and step to the side. Is it really that difficult?

If you’re trying to get a great photo in a busy area use some common sense and wait for an opportunity. And don’t just open up that huge map in the middle of the street; nothing says “lost tourist” or “potential crime victim” quite as clearly. If you’re lost, go into a cafe and get a coffee as well as your bearings. Oh and if you are lost, don’t look lost.

How many Germans does it take to read a map? Image (c) penguincakes via Flickr

3. That whole “tourist/traveller” thang

Grow up – to the locals it’s all the same. Just like back home, you’ll be judged by your actions, not by what you choose to call yourself. So you might think that with your dreadlocks, that batik outfit and your sandals you are blending in, looking like a local and a world away from the tourists at their all-inclusive hotel.

That’s debatable. In any case it’s the respect (or lack of) you show in your dealings with people that counts and is equally important in your home town as when you’re on holiday. Sorry, I mean “finding yourself”…

4. Haggling for four hours to save a dollar

Look, while it is undoubtedly a fun part of the local culture, haggling (essentially negotiating or arguing over the price of an item) is like many of life’s pleasures – you need to know when to stop.

So by all means haggle when this is expected (in markets etc.) but don’t treat it like a challenge you have to win at any cost. And please, don’t assume that because haggling over a wood carving at a crafts market is the norm that you should also argue over the sticker prices of goods in a supermarket.

Yes, that really does happen…

5. Forsaking local culture for the familiar

I know, the first thing I look for when I get to a foreign city is an Irish pub. I get a Guinness before moving next door for a Big Mac. Ok, sorry, that’s me being a typical sarcastic Brit there.

Why would you travel 5,000 miles to experience an exotic country only to end up in MacDonalds or Dirty Nelly’s? Using the toilet isn’t an excuse either; the former got wise to this years ago and protect their facilities like they contain state secrets or something.

In many places you have to ask for the key just to pee…Nope, if you are the kind of person who can’t survive without an English breakfast in Spain, USA Today in Paris or TV2 in Crete, you need help.

Andy Higgs
Andy Higgs

I know what it's like to go from being a crazy backpacker without a care in the world, via being a vaguely sensible parent to being an adventurer once more. In other words, evolving into a Grown-up Traveller.

Like everyone else, I love to travel, have visited a lot of countries and all that but my big thing is Africa.

I also own and run The Grown-up Travel Company as a travel designer creating personalised African itineraries for experienced adventurers

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