My Travel Pet Peeves

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Travel Pet Peeves

After six years of pretty consistent travel around the world, I have begun to notice some alarming trends among my fellow travel comrades, trends that annoy the crap out of me. Some of them are fairly obvious while others are probably my own little quirks that bother me when I’m traveling.

Presenting, my five biggest travel pet peeves:

Travel Pet Peeves

1. People who take photos with an iPad

There are only two occasions when it is socially acceptable to take a photo of anything with an iPad: someone has robbed all your alternative photograph-enabled electronics but someone how missed your iPad because it was in a case cleverly disguised as a book OR your iphone, ipod and camera batteries have all died and you do not have a second battery or charger about your person and you are at a place that must, must MUST be photographed.

Every time I see someone take a photo with an iPad, I want to go up to them and say, “excuse me, sir (madame), you do realize you look absolutely ridiculous, right?” Really, I am doing you a favor here, you should be thanking me because you probably didn’t realize how silly you looked before. In my eyes, it’s like you are holding up your laptop to take a picture of the monument with the camera. Honestly, it’s distracting to the average tourist (me) and it detracts from the value and beauty of wherever I’m visiting because I’m so busing staring at you in awe. Besides, the quality is crap and you probably can’t see the screen very well outside anyways, what’s the point?

In fact, Apple should probably just remove cameras from iPads, but that’s just my two cents.

Travel Pet Peeves

2. Bucket lists

Bucket lists really piss me off, but probably not for the reason you’re thinking. Though honestly, I’m a bit of a hypocrite here, because I’m sure I say “bucket list” all the time, but I don’t really mean it. I try to think of travel in terms of goals with a higher purpose. But when I see massive lists of “do this here” and “do that there” I always think to myself, why? Why do you want to do that? What makes you want to do that? There must be some reason, and I’m curious! Tell me! But if that reason is, I just want to go there to say I’ve been there or to knock it off my bucket list, then I’m really not interested in hearing about it.

I used to do this. On my very first long-term train trip through Europe, I went to a couple of places that I had absolutely zero interest in just to add another country to my list, and I’m mad at myself that I didn’t use those days to see something I really wanted to visit somewhere else.

Travel Pet Peeves

Hordes of tourists lined up at the Mona Lisa at the Louvre. How many are actually looking at the painting?

When you travel this way, micro-planning every detail of your trip, you miss out on beautiful, unique and spontaneous opportunities to do something different. Or maybe even if you add it to a huge list of things to do, you might never do any of them because it seems so impossible.

And then what happens if you never get to that place that was on your list? You probably feel unsatisfied or unhappy with yourself, at least that’s what happened to me. So I decided to take a different approach and give myself long-term goals or even lifelong goals of things I hope to accomplish, things that all (hopefully) lead me to becoming a better person overall. And I’ve become a much happier traveler since.

I guess my pet peeve is more about people who get so caught up in ticking things off a list, they lose sight of what travel is all about. Experiences, memories and self-growth, at least that’s what travel means to me.

The point of this was not just to ramble on, but to say that lists are good and can be very helpful, but at the end of the day, they should be more like guidelines. It’s really important while traveling to let yourself go and be spontaneous, and try random things. Otherwise, who knows what you might be missing out on when you barrel on from point A to point B.

Travel Pet Peeves

3. People who make zero effort to speak another language in a foreign country

I hate this so much, words cannot even begin to express how much it annoys me when people start a conversation in a foreign country in English (I find this happens mostly in English). Hello, you are not home! People aren’t required to speak English around the rest of the world, try not to be a complete d-bag!

I have a rule I always follow when I’m traveling. I learn 5 words of the native language of the country I am visiting in advance.

  1. Hello
  2. Goodbye
  3. Thank you
  4. Do you speak English?
  5. Wine, though occasionally I substitute it for other words like beer, water and coffee


5 little words are not that hard and they go a very long way. But you would be amazed at how few people actually make that effort and just rely on someone knowing English to be around. I’m not saying you have to learn the language of wherever you are traveling, that fact alone would keep many people from traveling at all.

But just make a tiny, little effort to show that you do in fact respect the country you are in, 9 times out of 10, people will be automatically nicer, more open and friendlier to you because of it. You don’t have to know another language to travel, but putting forth some effort makes a huge difference, even if the person laughs and replies to you in English. It all boils down to respect.

I have really strong opinions about this. In fact, few things piss me off more than this when I’m traveling. And heaven forbid,  if I ever hear anyone say, “why don’t they speak English here?” you can bet I will turn around and say something to you. And it won’t be nice.

The only time this has backfired was when I was in Egypt, and if I tried to say something in Arabic to a man, they would get so excited that a little blonde western girl knew some Arabic, they wouldn’t leave me alone and follow me around; it was like I was their dream woman come to life. Luckily, 10 year old Ali in Luxor taught me to say “f*** off, I’m married.” Worked like a charm.

Travel Pet Peeves

4. Disrespectful flight behavior

I spend way too much time on planes and I really don’t enjoy it. If I could trains everywhere, I would. It really doesn’t help that I have anxiety issues and I’m borderline OCD. The Oatmeal has a fantastic comic about how airplanes should be laid out. Here are my 10 biggest travel pet peeves on planes:

Travel Pet Peeves

Source, The Oatmeal

  1. Parents, control your offspring. Babies cry, kids are kids, I get that. But when I am on a 10 hour international flight, I don’t need your kids crawling all over my seat, screaming, playing around the aisles or kicking my seat while you have your noise canceling headphones on or are snoring away after taking too much Xanax and wine coolers 
  2. Never kick my seat. Under any circumstance
  3. Shoes on at all times or at least heavy woolen socks. I can live without seeing or smelling your bare feet
  4. No snoring
  5. Keep your voice down (one time I sat on a connector flight from DC and I listened to the guys in front of me ramble loudly about golf for over an hour. Eventually I chimed in, I assumed they were talking so loudly to encourage passenger interaction. I hate golf btw
  6. On budget airlines that don’t have assigned seating, please don’t sit right next to me when there are tons of empty rows open behind me. I like my personal space
  7. Don’t bring peanuts on a plane please. In this day and age, enough people have peanut allergies that most airlines don’t serve them anymore WITH GOOD REASON. Because people like me are deathly allergic to them. And no, I’m not going to steal your peanuts and eat them, but the smell of them makes me pretty ill nonetheless. And I can smell them a good 10 rows away
  8. Putting your coat or handbag in the overhead bin while the flight is still boarding. Nowadays, most flights are full and people need that space for bigger carry-ons, just wait til everyone is boarded and then try to put it away
  9. Share the armrest
  10. Showers and deodorant are required at least 12 hours before boarding for obvious reasons

Travel Pet Peeves

Totally unacceptable in flight behavior! Source

5. Anti-American attitude

Really? Really? In this day and age, can’t we just move past this? I get it, Americans can be awful travelers. Sometimes I hear things my fellow countrymen say that make me cock my head to the side and go, “WTF?!”

But really, that is a sweeping generalization about a huge group of people, and I don’t like huge sweeping generalizations. Bad travelers are everywhere. It’s not country specific. There are 6 million Americans living abroad, we can’t all be that bad.

And you know what is really surprising? For me, I think there is an attitude within the US that countries around the world hate us, like France or Arab countries, which I have found NOT to be the case at all. When I was traveling in Egypt and Morocco, people were beyond welcoming and friendly; I had heaps of great conversations with locals about this very hot topic, and not once did I get any negative reaction to it. I have a feeling I will hear the same thing when I am in Turkey next week. And I’ve had great experiences with locals in France and Paris, which in general has a very negative stereotype in the US.

But do you know where I consistently get criticized over and over and over again for being American? In the UK. It is literally the only country I felt legitimately HATED for my nationality.

Travel Pet Peeves

As of this year, I have traveled to the UK 11 different times. Why? Because I love it, and I have lots of friends there. Downside: I get sly, backhanded passive-aggressive remarks and comments for being a yank all the damn time! In fact, some of my best hate comments on my blog were directed at me being American.

And if it stems from #1, Americans being known bad tourists, that’s the pot calling the kettle black. After living in Spain for years, I’ve heard some appalling things come out of the mouths of British tourists.

Whether it’s a subtle “you Americans” or stronger anti-American sentiment, it happens over and over again when I’m in England. A memorable example: I was taking the bus to Bath from London and had a lovely conversation with the guy next to me. As we said goodbye, he told me, and I quote, “You know what? You’re pretty intelligent for an American.” Go on, guess how I replied.

I just don’t get it! Can someone please explain this phenomenon to me? British readers, poll in. What’s the deal with Americans? Do we just bug you guys? Is it our awful accents? Our workaholic natures and our tendencies to talk too much about money? Or does it go farther back to our itsy bitsy revolution? Because that’s water under the bridge.

We won the war, move on. You’ve still got Harry Potter and the Queen. And honest to god, what would I give for a UK passport?! Anything! I don’t begrudge merry old England for trying to levy taxes on my ancestors’ tea and keeping them from declaring independence, just like I don’t begrudge Germany for pretty much wiping out my entire family in Poland. That would be petty.

I just think any anti-American sentiment nowadays is just nonsense and it drives me bonkers when I hear it. It’s haughty, obnoxious, borderline racist and completely unnecessary in civilized conversation. End of story.

What are your travel pet peeves? Chime in!

Travel Pet Peeves

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  1. LOVE it! I always feel bad now on flights since as the nanny, I’m always flying with my boss and the 17 mo. old! Yesterday before our flight to Hong Kong (at midnight-wayy past little dudes bedtime) his mom had to run and get water for 5 minutes and little guy SCREAMED bloody murder while i was trying my best to constrain him from sprinting after her, and all this was at the terminal. I was thinking, dear god everybody already hates us. At least he slept the whole way once we finally boarded. Plus we would NEVER let him run around. Some parents do need to get a grip on their kids, but a little mercy for those of us who just have the rough situation already of having to deal with infants on long haul flights (no easy task). As for the iPads- I can’t even. Just awful. And you nailed it with the UK criticism portion. I’ll be really interested to hear some responses from Brits about that one. Entertaining as always, Liz!

  2. i love pet peeve posts. partly because i wrote one a long time ago and it was at like 20 some items before deciding to not go further with it. hahha 🙂

    i hate bucket lists too…for all the same reasons and for the fact that you truly discover the greatest things when traveling when you’re not planning. people with bucket lists often stay so focused on one thing that they lose track of all the greatness around them in the process. im more of a ‘wing-it’ person. which also has its downfalls.

    obviously i hate the anti-americanness too. i just call it someone’s inferiority complex with the US. if they were really comfortable with their nationality and where they come from they wouldnt have to put others down in order to make themselves feel better. and when they call us stupid, i just laugh. our stupid asses invented every damn thing their life revolves around…so it kind of speaks for itself. norwegians are pretty anti-american in their actions and sayings. but they are always all holding an iphone and wearing converse sneakers. i tell them if you hate the greedy americans then please stop buying our products which helps us become more and more wealthy. they are still sporting their converse sneakers. i dont find it acceptable to hate any culture or country. norwegians dont find it acceptable either…but if it is an american, they dont consider it hate or a form of racism, so it becomes okay. meh, whatever. it kind of makes me laugh.

    i hate rude and inconsiderate in flight people too. my worst pet peeve is when people take a bath in cigarettes before hand. in fact, i hate that anywhere. it is super inconsiderate. (i have allergies to cigarette smoke).

    people should always learn some of the language and manners when traveling to a new place. im a bit nervous about this for when i travel to georgia and armenia in april given their alphabet is so strange, but i will definitely still do it.

    hmm…my other big pet peeve is country counters. im sorry, but just because you’ve been to munich on a 4 hour layover doesnt mean you’re an expert on germany. i personally have no idea how many places ive been, but i dont measure it based on countries…but rather cities/areas explored into great depth. ive been traveling since i was a baby and lived in europe for six years as a kid and realized the best way to travel for me personally, is slowly and with no pressure. i understand that this isnt the same for everyone, but i hate when someone tells me how well-versed they are in berlin when they were merely there for 6 hours. people that travel as a competition never get as much out of travel as they should. and they are one of my pet peeves.

    since i began blogging, i have developed some other pet peeves that kind of fall in the travel category (like buying followers or press trips that dont fit the content or readers of your blog), but for the most part, the ones i listed above are my main ones 😉

  3. Amazing post!

    I pretty much agree with everything you’ve said here, except peanuts, I had never had to worry about those, but I’ll keep it in mind the next time a plane (even though I cant remember a single time I bought those with me, lol)

    As for the plane part, something that I really hate, and it gets me really pasive-agresive is the landing part. First of all, why do you clap? Where you so afraid to crash you are really that surprised? How excactly did you think planes landed? And, but even more annoying, we are all going to get off the plane eventually, I don’t need you tapping in my shoulder from your window seat because I’m still sitting “comfortably” reading my book when the doors open. It’s not rocket science, there are tons of passengers who will get off before us, so please, calm the f**k down untill it’s our turn, you won’t get off any faster by getting up on my little personal space, and no, I dont need a constant reminder that the doors are open, I’m not that stupid.

    Another thing that really bothers me is how people who have never travelled before, who are travelling with me for the first time (and trust me, I’ve done tons of travelling), don’t know how to take advice, of course I’m no super-expert, but years of airports, new cities, cultures and languages had given me some experience, so, please, please, listen to people who have travelled more than you, it will make my trip so much easier, and you wont recieve as many deadly stares from me.

    And a last thing (I could go on and on forever, I’m a natural pevish), it’s not a “while I’m travelling” but a “before a travel” thing, I hate how people always say stuff like “oooh, you are so lucky you are travelling” “Oh, im jelaous, you travel so much” “Oh, its easier for you because you speak english”… Well, first of all, none of my travelling is free (well, except for family vacation), I have to work hard to earn the money to do it, I don’t buy expensive things I would love to have, I don’t spend all my money in alcohol and partying, pretty much everything I earn is for travelling, so, yes, I guess I’m lucky, but you could be lucky aswell, most of my trips are “work trips”, yes, I do work wherever I go, its true that I make money with it (spend when I’m off), but I’m not on vacation, sometimes I get a little free time to do whatever I want. And, yes, I’m super lucky to speak english, but I’m no native, and I had to study a lot, struggle a lot, embarras myself a lot, and spend tons of money for years to get it, so stop complaining and learn the language!

    Sorry, to make it so long, I just got carried away with complaining excitment. lol

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