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Travel is awesome and inspiring. No debate there.
Yet, while you normally encounter new best friends on the road, sometimes you come across the Infamous Traveling Jerk.
Alas, this unfortunate truth tends to creep up on you at the very worst times. For example, you want a good night’s rest after exploring a new city all afternoon, eating a late dinner, and meeting new friends. Then some jerk disrupts your beauty rest by slamming the door in the wee morning hours. Not fun.
As a solo traveler, yes, you’ll meet incredible and fun people on most days. I find the majority of back/flashpackers are fabulous. But eventually you’ll come across a jerk who makes you shake your head in despair and confusion. Manners ought to be required before the government issues passports, haha.
But how about yourself? Do you think you might be a traveling jerk? Here are 7 signs that you are!
1. You stay in a dorm and pack early in the morning
For love of god, don’t treat a dorm room or other shared accommodation like your house. I could rant for hours about this topic. People who snore like freight trains and disturb everyone else. People who turn on the lights at 3 in the morning instead of using their phone flashlight to guide them. Drunken fools falling into your bed. Cosmetics, socks, and dirty underwear spilling across the entire floor. All are annoying. However early morning (re: 3 am, 4 am, 5 am, 6 am) packers make me rage way more than the above nuisances, because helloooooo, it’s so avoidable and obnoxious.
The zipping and unzipping. The crinkly plastic bags. Ahh, the unzipping again. The bang! as the suitcase flips over and hits the floor.
Okay, while a zipper may seem innocuous, the repetitive noise sounds unbearable as it rips through the silence of sleeping wayfarers. It’s even worse when more than one person rustles through their piles of useless crap.
We all have early flights or trains to catch. I understand. But come on. Pack the previous night (it’s not as if the early flight is a surprise) or move your stuff into the hallway to pack in the morning. But don’t wake everyone else because oh-so special you has a ride to catch.
Clearly I’m getting too old and cranky for dorms. But more about that later.
2. You expect others to mother you at bars and clubs
I’m a high school teacher. So, yes, as a result of my profession, I’m even less inclined to babysit you at bars, clubs, or anywhere else. Taking care of people 24/7 is an important part of my job. However, being “mom” is not my life calling. I’m not in the business of doting when I’m not receiving a paycheck for it and in the company of fully grown adults rather than teenagers.
I need a break from being “The Responsible One At All Times.” This criteria doubles on the road. I paid a lot for my trip and want to turn my own brain off. What I’m trying to say is that if you’re old enough to travel without a parent or guardian holding your dainty hand, then you’re old enough to take care of your own damn self.
I’m not cleaning your vomit. I’m not cutting my evening short because you’re a “white girl wasted” mess. I’m not paying for your cab home. We’ve known each other for five hours, bro, and your alcoholism isn’t my problem. Keep it under control or don’t drink at all, I don’t care, but don’t make your lack of responsibility my problem.
If you party and just expect everyone else to take care of you, then you need to stop being selfish. Full stop. Let other people have fun and make better choices.
3. You’re anti-social and stay at a hostel
Hostels are meant to be social forms of accommodation. Some hostels are better at creating an interactive atmosphere than others, but nonetheless most travelers book hostels in the hope of meeting new friends to share their experiences with. So if you’re gonna scowl in the common room and keep your eyes glued on your phone, then go book a cheap hotel, so someone who actually wants to socialize can take your bed for the evening. Please.
I know I’ve complained about anti-social travelers on this blog and I’m aware that I probably sound self-absorbed. I don’t expect everyone to trip over themselves to be friends with me. By all means, if you just flew across the Atlantic Ocean and are in the midst of jetlag hell, go to your room, nap, and join the living once you’ve rested yourself. No one is going to feel chatty and bubbly 24/7. I know I needed my quiet time on all my trips. Usually, I lie in my bed and put on my headphones, or book a private room and lock the door when I’m feeling tired or anti-social. Then I go downstairs to the bar or common room when I wanna talk. Nothing wrong with that.
But if you only intend to talk on Skype in the dorms and text in the common room and ignore everyone around you for your entire stay, then you’re kinda defeating the purpose of staying at a hostel. Stop dampening everyone else’s mood and stay somewhere else.
4. You demand perfect English
Us English speakers are a lucky bunch. Why? Well. You can usually find someone who speaks English in touristy areas, and English is taught as a second language in many, many countries. In an airport, signs are written in the local language and … English! Go to most museums and it’s the same arrangement. Local language. And English! We’ve got it made when it comes to communication.
However it’s polite to learn a few phrases of the local language. It’s all about being a good guest! In Paris, I tried to exclusively speak French in shops and attractions, and people were so so so friendly in return. Seriously, their friendliness crushed all those stereotypes about rude Parisians and I think it’s because of my effort to speak their language.
If you refuse to speak the language or even worse, demand that everyone else speak English, then you’re not only acting like a jerk, but you’re worsening your country’s reputation.
5. You complain about tipping customs
Ughhhh, I have to admit this is a personal pet peeve of mine. Being from the States, I have no problem tipping without question, because it’s been ingrained in my head to do so. Our service staff makes crap money and lives off their tips. I even mention how important tipping is to me in my “How Not to Be a Jerk in the USA” post.
If you’re supposed to tip for good service, then tip. If tipping isn’t not necessary or looked down on, then don’t tip. Simple as that, yeah?
If you’re from a country that doesn’t tip, don’t loudly complain in restaurants about “how stupid tipping is” and “they oughta just pay a living wage!” The wait staff doesn’t care. Save the stirring lecture for a more appropriate time and place. On the flip side, if you’re in a country that sees tipping as offensive, then don’t act huffy when your “kind gesture” is turned down.
Common sense, guys!
6. You eat food that’s not yours
To the person who ate half of my clearly labeled Domino’s pizza in Reykjavik, I’m dedicating this tip to your freeloading butt.
Many hostels and bed and breakfasts have communal kitchens to help travelers save on meal costs. Dining in restaurants, while enjoyable and delicious, can become expensive if you do it every single night. The communal kitchen is a budget life saver, and the fridge is meant for keeping your affordable leftovers safe and fresh. Just be sure to label your name and departure date on the container. Great, right? Not always. If you have a food thief on your hands, you may be spending more cash than you bargained for. I beg all of you:
If food is labeled, indicating the guest is still at the accommodation, and you’re feeling tempted to gobble the deliciousness because you’re cheap and/or greedy, resist those evil urges. Please. Do not, do not, DO NOT steal and eat it.
Check out the “free food” shelf, by all means, but don’t you dare steal someone else’s food. They paid for it. You did not. As far as I’m concerned, snatching people’s meals is just as bad (well, maybe not, but still) as swiping their iPhone or passport.
I understand food theft isn’t the end of the world. Dishonest people share our space and stuff happens as a result. Doesn’t mean I won’t be filled with rage, though, when I discover half my pizza is gone.
7. You refuse to follow airport security rules
Okay, I understand the TSA aren’t the most beloved individuals and airport security gives even the most patient traveler hives. Still. Follow the rules and don’t make a stink if you’re asked to throw away your water bottle before going through security. The airport is the last place to try and start trouble. You could be leaving in handcuffs.
My advice? Check all of your airline’s rules and regulations prior to departure. Don’t try to smuggle overweight luggage through the gate or bring tons of liquids with you to security. You’ll hold up everyone else, which is especially frustrating for other travelers who may be trying to make a tight connecting flight.
Also, while we’re on the subject, can you dress appropriately before going to the airport, please? You don’t need fancy lace up boots. You don’t need $100 worth of change in your pocket. You don’t need a million layers. I promise.
Anyway, whether you agree with security precautions or not, it doesn’t matter. Follow the rules. They’ve been in place for about fifteen years now.
What do you think creates a traveling jerk? Do you have any stories about traveling jerks? Have you ever been that traveling jerk? Share in comments!