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A to Z Challenge: T is for That Tourist

By Friday, April 24, 2015

This post originally appeared as part of the A to Z Challenge, and was called 'T is for That Tourist.'

The difference between a Traveler and a Tourist can be hotly debated ad nausiem, but I think that chances are, if you're a traveler, you're also a tourist at least some of the time.

We all want the authentic experience, to eat like the locals and get the insiders view, but we also want to see the landmarks, eat the famous delicacies and the recreate the photos we saw growing up. Sometimes we want to wander the city streets, blending in with the locals, but sometimes we want a guide to make sure we don't get too lost and miss our dinner.

But you've probably encountered other tourists who make you cringe and try to avoid them. They give travelers in general a bad name. You know, That Tourist.

I try to keep in mind that not everyone has the same comfort levels, mobility and resources that I do, and I don't know if, for example, the person who'll only eat at touristy restaurants has a food intolerance and needs to be able to discuss with the staff exactly what's in the dish. Or maybe the people staying in a 5 star hotel in Kathmandu have to keep their medication refrigerated and could run into a lot of problems if their hotel doesn't have a generator during blackouts. 

But I sometime run into the most obnoxious people. Sometimes I get it, you're 19, the world is your oyster, and it'll serve you alcohol before you're 21. Maybe it's the first time you've traveled without your parents, it's scary and exhilarating. But seriously, a little common courtesy and common sense goes a long way:

The parents who instructed their child to go under the spiked security chain to climb on the monument it was protecting for a better photo.

The girl loudly telling her traveling companions that there are no toilets on Ryan Air flights.

The person who complained on trip adviser that the beverage dispenser labeled "latte" in their Italian hotel was filled with milk.
Don't be That Tourist.

You might be That Tourist if you:
  • nearly run people over on a Segway - there's always the one guy trying to drum up business by driving his segway tour through crowds. Yes, if you almost run me over I will notice you, but you won't be endearing yourself to me. (confession: I still want to give one a go, is it true you can't fall off?) (also, I realize that not everyone has the same mobility and a segway might be the best or only way for someone to get around - this isn't aimed at them.)
  • take photos with an ipad or other large tablet in a crowd- I get that phone and tablet cameras are getting better and better, even replacing the simple point and shoot, but your full size iPad is blocking everyone behind you
  • are wearing a T-shirt that says "Czech Drinking Team"
  • the tour groups that are so large and disorganized that other people must wait for you to pass by before continuing their journeys
  • are the high American in Amsterdam
  • try to make the guards move 
  • take photos in front of the 'no photos' sign.
  • complained your Victorian Era hotel in Stockholm did not have air conditioning (according to holiday-weather.com, the average yearly high for Stockholm is only 64°F (18°C)
  • Block the top of a train station escalator with your suitcases, leaving the commuters and everyone else forced to hurdle.
  • are the one who feels the need to loudly explain commonly known facts in museums, etc
  • are the one who feels the need to loudly explain made up facts in museums, etc
  • Stag nights and Hen parties. Not all of them of course, and they can be obnoxious any and everywhere, but I'm sure you know which ones I'm talking about.
  • If any of the following apply to you: 10 Signs You're the Worst Person on Your Flight by SmarterTravel.com
  • Carve your initials into or defaces anything.
  • Don't do any  basic research before visiting. You should know that Scotland isn't England and yes, it is safe to drink the tap water in Florence.
So who's the most annoying tourist you've seen? have you ever inadvertently been That Tourist? (I know I have)

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  1. Very entertaining post. I find myself rolling my eyes too often when traveling. You can definitely fall off a Segway, though. I just saw an episode today of "The Science of Stupid", and they had a Segway segment. If you lean the wrong way in a curve, you're off. And then if you don't let go of the handle, you can get slammed into a wall. It actually looked quite funny, but probably didn't feel funny.

  2. I try hard not to judge other travelers. Like you mentioned, there are (or at least may be) reasons that they are doing what they do. But it's so hard NOT to judge. Sometimes other people are just so dang weird. This post of yours inspired me to write my confessions why I'M the worst traveler. It became big enough that I needed a part 1 and part 2.