7 terrible travel habits we love to hate

About Vivek Wagle

Update: an earlier version of this post was called “7 Supreme Court rulings we’d love to see.” It was a lighthearted attempt to acknowledge today’s historic US Supreme Court ruling while staying on the topic of travel. Well, it turns out that a lot of folks felt that the treatment inappropriately trivialized today’s decision. I can see how this would be the case and apologize for coming across as making light of a serious, historic matter. – Vivek

Boring travelers.

You know who they are. They manage to turn every trip into a monotonous litany of complaints, obstacles, and issues. Even thinking about them makes you flush with embarrassment.

Wouldn’t it be great if there were rules against this sort of thing? If there were, here are some standouts we’d champion:

Crime #1: People who have no idea what to do when a plane lands.

The wheels have barely touched down, and already these folks are making nuisances of themselves. Whether it’s standing up before the seat-belt sign goes off (and probably spilling the remnants of their fourth gin and tonic onto the nice pants you wore in the vain hope of getting upgraded) or ruthlessly plowing ahead when the door opens (and stranding that poor old couple in row 17 who just can’t bully their way into the aisle), they turn a stressful situation into an intolerable one. They must be punished.

The sentence: a 45-minute timeout at the immigration counter. Childish behavior deserves childish retribution. Nothing will cure a case of I’m-in-a-hurry-so-I’ll-ignore-everyone-else like enforced stationary silence watching passports get stamped. Don’t step away—that earns you another 15 minutes. We can go all day, pal.

Crime #2: Yelling loudly in one’s native language to make oneself understood.

Because the problem is that people in other countries are all hard of hearing, right? This is one of travel’s rudest, most predictably lame behaviors. The sentence must fit the crime.

The sentence: your high-school Spanish teacher explaining when to use the subjunctive mood to you. For four hours. Good luck with that. (Note: if you are a fluent Spanish speaker, substitute “Basque” for “Spanish” and “anything at all” for “subjunctive.” If you speak both Spanish and Basque, you are off scot-free. Respect.)

Crime #3: Exclusively patronizing chain restaurants and shops.

Sure, everyone needs a bit of predictability in their life…but if all you do is ignore local offerings in favor of something you could get anywhere in the world, well, the world should see just how boring you are.

The sentence: being forced to wear monochrome suits exclusively. Like things to be the same? OK, let’s up the ante. From now on, your wardrobe gets to be just as exciting as your taste in cuisine or fashion. Uniformity rules!

Crime #4: Refusing to tip in a tipping culture.

If you’re in a place where the service industry is vastly underpaid, and you punish the people helping you out because of your views on the society, then you deserve a taste of your own medicine.

The sentence: getting a sticker on your car that says, “Never let me into your lane.” Hey, letting someone into your lane is OPTIONAL, right? So if someone never did something that is OPTIONAL, that’s OK. Questions?

Crime #5: Not taking your shoes off in a shoes-off culture.

There are some places where wearing your street shoes indoors is viewed as just plain disgusting. How disgusting? Well put it this way. It’s somewhat equivalent to…

The sentence: having to use unwashed forks and knives to eat. Dirty feet, dirty utensils. You’ll live. And next time, you’ll go barefoot.

Crime #6: Treating every beach as a nude beach.

There’s nothing more confronting than showing up at a local beach and encountering red-faced, embarrassed locals fleeing the scene because a few too many people have decided to get their unmentionables out. (And yes, wearing tiny Speedos counts in a lot of places.) But embarrassment goes two ways.

The sentence: posting an Instagram feed of you at the beach to your parents’ TV. With luck, they might even share it on “the Facebook” or record it on their VCR. Should that happen, God help you.

Crime #7: Not acknowledging basic acts of hospitality.

On every trip, you’ll encounter small kindnesses that provide moments of joy you’ll always remember. A local merchant may gift you a bottle of wine. Someone may notice that you look lost and offer up directions. A family may invite you into your home.

While it’s not always easy to know how to react appropriately, there’s a simple way to react INappropriately: by not receiving the hospitality with a smile and a “thank you” (preferably delivered in the local language). Brushing off generosity is one of the nastiest things a traveler can do.

The sentence: a total ban from showering or deodorant. Can’t handle people being nice to you? No problem: now no one will ever approach you again. At least, not without a huge dose of pity.

Do you know of any traveler habits that are so boring as to be downright criminal? Hit us up in the comments below, or let us know on our Facebook or Twitter pages!


About Vivek Wagle

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  1. Denis

    I saw the title on my Facebook feed… A disappointing article. Felt like I wasted time. Also… It’s a big day for a lot of people, and your first paragraph seems to trivialize it.

    • Ed

      I agree. Trying to be cute but in bad taste.

  2. Vivek Wagle

    Folks, you’re right. Reflecting on the piece, it came across as insensitive. I’ve edited the title and introduction. Thanks for keeping me honest.

  3. Robert

    Thank you for making that change and the apology. -Robert

  4. Anonymous


    I wanted to contact AirBnB to provide web-site feedback, but this requires creating an account, which is excessive for a one line feedback.

    I came to use airbnb for the first time today and went to send a message to someone offering their apartment. A form pops up, you type out your message and hit submit.

    *Then* comes the next form, whcih informs you that you must sign up to send a message.

    Why let me type out the message BEFORE telling me this?

    So I wanted to give feedback, but – you have to sign up an account before you can give feedback.

    The impression is given airbnb seeks to push people into signing up, to the extent that there’s a mild bait’n'switch and a barrier to feedback, both detrimental to users, to achieve this end.

    • Javier

      Hey Anonymous – I think airbnb requires someone to sign up first before a traveler can contact a host is for safety reasons for the host. However I do agree airbnb should just adjust the site to have pop up appear with required signup needed before someone can contact a host. No need for someone to type their questions to host thinking they will contact a host without signing up.


  5. Kay

    I reckon you should add a feature where host can indicate the Languages they speak and people can guests can actually filter the place where they want to stay. I am planning on going to Amsterdam, but I fear I may not be able to communicate with my host in English, especially asking about places, etc.

    • DennisG

      I’m Dutch and I can assure you, the majority of the people in Amsterdam speak perfect English. In the stores, on the street and Airbnb hosts can help you in your native English, so no worries there…

    • Vivian

      Why wouldn’t you be able to communicate with your host in English in Amsterdam? I went to Kiev and my host didn’t speak English and it went fine – her daughters speak excellent English and the older daughter took care of the messages, while the younger daughter came along to pick up the key. When I checked out, I translated what I needed to say in Russian on Google Translate and called her to tell her to come over. Easy-peasy!

    • Javier


      You can filter as a guest simply go under amenities in the search results, click on “show more” the click on the host tab and presto you can filter by what hosts list for their languages spoken.
      Hope this helps!

  6. Julie Sheridan

    It always amazes me, when the plane lands, how long it takes human beings to perform the simple act of picking up their hand luggage and walking forwards. Why does it have to take so long?! And the Spanish subjuntive isn’t all bad. After a while it does eventually start to just ‘feel’ right. Honestly.

  7. Justin Morrison

    What a negative article. Author, you come across as a snotty hipster. Seriously, as if these things happen ALL the time.

    This is my first look at the Airbnb blog, and likely my last. As a relatively new host with a very high opinion of the Airbnb system, I’m disappointed.

  8. reservationresources

    Quick story about a negative American traveler, who was in line next to me at Rio customs. When customs officer helped him open his huge overstuffed suitcase, he said, “gracious” to which customs officer explained that in Brazil, Portuguese is language spoken and that to say thank you, the word for “thank you” is “obligato”. The American replied, “You people should be more accommodating and realize that very few people speak Portuguese and many more speak Spanish.”

    The Customs officer said nothing and just waved him through, at which point my customs officer said to him in English so I would understand, “I would have searched his bag for a long time for his being so rude.” The first customs agent replied, “Well I didn’t stamp his passport, just wait until he tries to leave”.