We all have certain expectations that make sense to us, and of course those expectations are conditioned by our own culture. But when we travel, it can be easy to forget that not everyone has the same expectations. On the contrary, they differ wildly. It behooves us to learn a thing or two about the country we’re visiting before we go so that we don’t put our feet in our mouths.
Unfortunately, not all tourists take that attitude. Some travelers seem to think that the whole world should operate based on what they think is right and acceptable.
Read on for stories of the worst tourist faux pas people have ever seen, which were recently shared online.
24. My Maine Man
I’m from New England, where we use the term “guys” as a gender neutral term the way southerners use “y’all”. I’ve had three different southerns get mad at me when I called them “guys” and tell me I was being sexist. Two of those three then suggested that I, along with the rest of my people, should switch to using “y’all” as it’s “more inclusive.”
Don’t you dare come to our land and tell us how to speak our language. I understand it doesn’t mean the same thing throughout the USA, but here in New England we say guys.
23. Portions Here Are Huge, Though
22. New Orleans Is Sinking
21. Anything To Declare?
My buddy works as a guard at the Canadian border, and he says you wouldn’t believe the amount of Americans who get turned away because they brought restricted firearms or pepper spray with them to the border. It’s not that they’re blatantly trying to sneak them in; they just honestly have no clue that you’re not allowed to have these things in Canada and they just assume because it’s legal in America, it must be legal in Canada too.
20. Reef Relief
In Cozumel, I once took a snorkelling boat trip to the reef with my wife.
While en route a crew member asked everyone, in perfect English, on a very loud PA system, not to apply sunscreen before getting in the water. Cozumel gets lots of tourists, and sunscreen in the water – as he explained – is bad for the reef.
One guy, who I’d heard speaking English five minute before, proceeded to put on enough sunscreen to turn his whole body white.
In case you find yourself in that position… The consequence was that the captain, not saying a word, did not take us to the reef. All the waters around Cozumel are worth a swim, so I may have been the only tourist on the boat who knew we were in the wrong place. But I’d scuba dived on Cozumel before, and I promise you that NOTHING we saw that day compared with THE LEAST of the reef.
So people, please pay attention and follow the simple rules that are there for everyone’s pleasure and safety.
19. I Would Prefer Not To
On our honeymoon, my wife and I went to a Sandals resort in St Lucia. Thus far this has been my first and favorite of all the Caribbean islands we’ve visited. Sandals has three resorts on the island and you are able to shuttle between them to enjoy the amenities of each unique resort free with your stay.
We were staying in what I would call the more “laid back” resort – it had the golf course, it had the most restaurants, and it was smaller but cozy and a really relaxed environment. There was a much larger resort they called the “party” grand resort which we checked out one night. It was more of a 24-hour party. Our resort was filled with mostly newly-weds or older couples just enjoying each other’s company – really what you want from a honeymoon.
One of the last nights of our stay, we had booked the “super-fancy” dinner at their French restaurant – the only one for which you truly needed a reservation and a stiff dress code.
About halfway through our dinner, a couple came in and sat at the table next to us. I did not see wedding bands so I’ll call them boyfriend/girlfriend. The boyfriend was dressed up in slacks and a blazer while the girlfriend was in a short party dress. They were guided to the table next to us and the girl ended up drifting way past her seat before the guy guided her back into her spot.
They began a conversation in Italian while sprinkling in some English. Then they ordered some vino and things started to get strange. The girl began singing and shouting and trying to dance in her seat. The host came to check on them and the guy apologized, explaining that they have had quite the night.
The girl then decided to start bickering with the host in both languages. She grabbed a very expensive bottle and poured it onto her crotch. She started yelling in English that the host could “lick it up if you don’t like my behavior.” The host tried to calm her down, but the girlfriend turned to the whole restaurant and yelled, “All you peasants can lick it off me for all I care!”
The boyfriend called the host over and requested that they cancel the food order saying that they needed to catch the shuttle bus back to their resort. Then they excused themselves.
The whole interaction lasted maybe 20 minutes. This happened 6 years ago and it’s still quite vivid. I’ve never seen an interaction like it before or since.
18. Mexico Is Our Frat House
My buddy and I went to Baja California, Mexico to go fishing and camping as we had done many times before. We always stopped for a night in Encinada before driving the last 120 miles to our favorite beach to camp.
Encinada is sort of a touristy type town, about an hour from the border where you can shop, party at the local night clubs, watch girls dance, and soak up the local activities. We had been to Mexico countless times and had even made good friends there who always looked forward to our visits.We would bring them things they needed and they taught us the language. We appreciated the warm and beautiful people we met in Mexico and had a lot of respect for them.
In the past, we had seen our fellow visitors from the U.S. partying and usually having a good time while showing reasonable respect for the locals. But not always. For some reason, some people act out and do things they would never do in their own country when they visit another country. This one time really stands out.
They were a group of about 7 guys up on one of the hotel balconies, on the second floor, just above the main street. They were partying and carrying on in a very belligerent manner, shouting insults to the local people, throwing cans, food, and trash down on the sidewalk and just plain being loud and unpleasant. Several were cat-calling the women down on the street, as well as insulting the street vendors and families walking on the street below.
The were all hammered, but there is NEVER an excuse to act out that way. I doubt they ever acted like that in their own city, but here they felt they could insult the people. You could tell they just thought they were better than everybody. They were invincible. Or so they
friend and I watched them for a while. There was really nothing we could do but yell up at them to try to shame them, but that just made them louder and they tried to throw stuff at us. The general public were annoyed but largely ignored their ugly display of manners. What could we do?
Later that night, while we were at a watering hole playing dominoes with the locals, we heard this group coming from down the street, loud and rowdy as ever. They attempted to enter the bar but we blocked their way and refused them entrance. We told them what a shame they were to all tourists and told them they needed to leave ASAP. Several very large locals appeared right behind them out of the darkness, so they were caught between a rock and a hard place.
They fell silent, suddenly very sober and scared. We had no intention of harming anything except their egos. One of them began throwing up in the curb which triggered his friend to become sick also. The others were obviously very shaken up. They weren’t so brave and loud when confronted in the dark on the street., and they got out of there as quickly as possible.
The patience the people in Encinada showed to these awful tourists amazed me. They were lucky to walk back over the border to wherever they came from intact.
17. Mt. Rushmore
Oh boy. I live in a town that is situated near Mt. Rushmore and the world’s largest motorcycle rally in Sturgis, so I see a lot of tourists. Most tourists are well behaved, but there are a few behaviors that really stick out.
Littering. Do you really think it’s ok to throw your trash on the ground? Really?
Disrespecting Native Americans and their culture. Asking them what their “Indian names” are is rude. No, they don’t live in teepees. Stop repeatedly hitting your hand on your mouth as you yell “ahhhhhhhh.” It’s rude and stupid. Oh, and one of my friends who is Lakota says that no one cares if your great-great-grandmother was a Cherokee princess. That family story is bull.
Southerners, this one is for you. Yes, we know that our sweet tea is not as good as yours. We don’t care if you think unsweetened iced tea is disgusting. Just don’t order it. Going on and on to the waitress is rude. Just order something else, okay?
Please do not neglect to tip the wait staff, even if you come from a place where tipping is not the norm. Lecturing your server about “tipping culture” is not going to pay her electric bill.
For those visiting the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally:
PICK UP YOUR TRASH.
Don’t lecture anyone pushing a stroller down Main Street. People live here, you are just visiting.
Learn the traffic laws and obey them. Lane splitting is illegal here, and is a great way to get into an accident. It’s not a brilliant way to get ahead of traffic when 90% of the traffic consists of motorcycles.
If you are not staying in Sturgis or in one of the campgrounds, please keep the noise down. People live here, and have to get up and go to work in the morning. If you want to party all night, then perhaps one of the campgrounds is a better choice.
Men propositioning local girls and women is crass. Also, ladies please don’t expose yourself to my teenage son. I shouldn’t even have to say it.
16. Lo Blow
I live in Venice.
I guess many of you know who Logan and Jake Paul are. (In case you don’t, they’re awful YouTube stars who will do anything for attention.)
Last year they posted some vlogs about their trip in Italy. What they did was offensive. Just for views they decide to take a bath in the canals of Venice. Despite people telling them it’s strictly forbidden.
When this man told Logan Paul “the police are coming”, he said, “Well, then ask them to join the LoGang.”
It’s written everywhere that you can’t swim in the canals. First of all, it’s so dangerous. You may crash on a water taxi (it happened to a New Zealander tourist who eventually died). Or get infections, since it’s known the water is so dirty.
Disrespecting a strict rule and making fun of the local population or the authorities is tasteless. Definitely.
This is not just against Logan and Jake Paul by the way. I don’t care about their lives, or if they want to get some infections. It’s just an example of how people disrespect my city. Venice is already stressed by the number of tourists. It doesn’t need two clowns like them who disregard laws and put people in danger, whether the water is clean or not.
15. I’ve Never Understood The Rush
One of the most irritating and bizarre habits that seems to be universally adopted by all travelers (present company included at times) comes in the minutes immediately after a plane has touched down on the runway.
There seems to form an inhumane and egocentric behavior, in which people of all calibers become completely engrossed in getting off the plane as quickly as humanly possible, and with little or no regard to those around him or her. I have begun to sit back and observe this behavior more closely over the past years, mostly for entertainment purposes, and am always left dumbfounded at the terrible mannerisms that people display in that mad rush to get one’s bags from the overhead compartment and get off the plane.
This seems to happen regardless of the amount of time spent on the airplane. People push through crowds, avoid helping others grab bags from overhead and even makes scenes of outlandish frustrations over having to wait for a minute or two for the doors to finally open and for the human flow to leak out of the aircraft.
The most irritating of all is when a passenger or two decide to stand up and start grabbing for the bags overhead before the seat belt sign has even been switched off, and while the plane is still moving towards the gate. I’ve seen this on a number of occasions and always laugh when the flight attendant is forced to yell out at the passenger to sit back down.
Everything about flying should be seen as amazing. Do not take it for granted and please, exhibit normal human behavior when flying.
14. DO YOU SPEAK ENGLISH?!
I just cannot for the life of me understand why some Americans, usually well into adulthood, insist on speaking loudly when nobody else feels the need to.
We were just in Jerusalem last week, meeting some friends. One of our carefully chosen dinner-dates at an excellent Arabic restaurant was marred by the presence of four Americans at the table next to us. They insisted that talking louder would make the servers understand them better or grant them better service.
The food was not what they expected so they sent it back. It was replaced by something else that they loudly proclaimed was “hardly edible.”
Not all wait staff around the world speak English, nor can you get cooking “like back home” everywhere, even if one page of the menu is in English.
On the way out, I kindly suggested to the four of them that they should consider going to the McDonald’s around the corner next time rather than ruining everyone’s night at this very fine restaurant. They looked at me as if I came from the moon.
Why do so many people who speak English as their first language think shouting will make them understood, or expect English language skills from everyone they meet? I guess they’re just used to it.
13. Stealing The Show
During my vacation in Cambodia, I stopped by a small grocery store in a very touristy area. As a result, the lineup was slow, as customers were trying to figure out the currency at the cash.
One guy in the lineup who was trying to purchase an apple – a white hippy in his twenties (bleh!) – was clearly losing his patience. After about 2 minutes of waiting, he suddenly walked straight through the door, shoplifting the apple, all the while rolling his eyes as he did so. I’ve witness a lot of terrible tourists in Cambodia but this has got to be the most disgusting.
First of all, it was a modest, family-run store. The guy was not only disrespectful of other cultures, but had enough money and privilege to afford to fly to Cambodia in the first place. Then on top of that there was the self-righteous attitude as he committed a crime. What a piece of garbage.
12. I Am The Captain Now
I was on a cruise a couple of years ago, and we took an excursion that involved a small boat that took us offshore to examine the local underwater life. There were about twenty of us on the boat, along with the Captain and two other guys, one who helped with the boat, and the other was in the water, diving down and pulling up various sea creatures for us to check out.
With us on this expedition was a large (three generations) family. From the minute that we left the port to explore our excursion destination, the head of this family pretty much took over the boat.
He grabbed every aquatic animal as soon as it was aboard. He made sure that he and his family got all of the pictures that they wanted. At one point, he physically shoved the Captain out of his seat so that he could get his picture at the helm of this little boat.
His wife seemed to be mortified and I didn’t blame her; he was the worst example of a tourist who thinks he is entitled to everything and anything. We were in the back of the boat, so we humored it all. Whatever, let’s have a look at the starfish before returning it to the sea.
At the end of the excursion, the Captain mentions that they appreciate the tips! I expect that the guy who has claimed our excursion as his own will pony up some cash for the crew.
But of course not. He doesn’t give them a dime.
I tipped them twice what I normally would have, and apologized very loudly for all these IDIOTS who are stiffing them.
On the way back to the cruise ship, I watched the family elder jump on a jet ski, which was not his, for another photo opportunity, just because he could.
11. Unplanned Photo Shoot
Five friends and I were lying on the beach of Gili Trawangan Island in Lombok, Indonesia.
A group of about 6 Middle Eastern men came out with their phones and started photographing us from all angles. They wouldn’t stop, even when we yelled at them. They smiled as they took picture after picture of all of us in our bathing suits.
It was incredibly creepy. We all covered up our swimsuits immediately and went home. Day at the beach ruined.
Fellas, there’s no faster way to make a woman feel violated than photographing her without her permission. Especially in a swimsuit.
Don’t do it. Ever.
10. But Hippos Are So Cute!
Absolutely don’t get to close to a wild animal to take a photo.
Wild animals are not pets, there is a reason why they’re wild. These things will kill you in a thousand different ways. Get too close to them and you risk life threatening injuries or death.
In Kenya more than ten tourists are killed by a hippo every year around Lake Naivasha. In fact, a month ago a Chinese tourist was mauled by one as he was attempting to take a photo.
So if an animal is not trained, stay away from it. The good thing is most cheetahs in animal orphanages are. Pet those but absolutely don’t get near a hippo, you’ll get back home in a coffin.
I am disregarding other dangerous wild animals you shouldn’t get near because hippos have an unmatched reputation here.
9. Keep Your Clothes On
My wife and I went to Cabo about three years ago, and we took a sunset cruise around the bay. The cruise had food and drinks, and there was this lady, probably around 60 years old or so. When the DJ started the music, she got up to dance and started raising her dress, showing everyone her underwear! She tried to get close to my wife to dance and was promptly pushed away. The next morning we went down to breakfast and guess who we saw on the next table? She looked as sick as a dog.
On another vacation, we took a cruise, and there was a couple consisting of an older lady and a younger dude. Both were in great shape and the lady wore a bikini for the duration of the cruise. The guy had a matching speedo bathing suit, showing the size of his humanity! This was a carnival cruise full of kids and families, so it was super weird and inappropriate. Later on, we found out fellow passengers were referring to the dude as “speedo torpedo.” Talk about bad taste!
8. Sacred Selfie!
This happened when I was on holiday in Sri Lanka some years ago.
I visited the ancient cave temples at Dambulla, but one of the caves was closed to the public. I asked a monk who was siting outside why that was. He said that a couple of days before, he’d walked into the cave and found a German tourist siting in the lap of a statue of Buddha, having her photograph taken. The statue was 2,000 years old and considered sacred. Because it had been defiled the cave was closed to anyone but the monks at the site who were spending days cleaning it (physically and spiritually).
When the monk was talking to me he was upset and tearful about what had happened. I left feeling thoroughly ashamed of my fellow tourists.
7. “I Did Go To College — In Indonesia”
I was waiting for my turn in a hospital in Indonesia. Then, I heard a man yelling. A white man was yelling at two nurses at the registration desk. He wanted to see a doctor but he could not say it to the nurses since he did not speak the local language and the nurses did not speak his language as well. He screamed at them:
“WHY CAN’T YOU SPEAK ENGLISH. DIDN’T YOU GO TO COLLEGE?”
He continued to yell at them for a few minutes and left. Both nurses looked scared and embarrassed. I was about to approach them and help to translate but my daughter needed to go to the bathroom so bad and wanted me to come with her. It was very tasteless and rude for a tourist to come to Indonesia and expect that everyone with a college degree must be fluent in English.
6. R.I.P. Notre Dame
A few years ago, I was visiting Paris with my wife. One of the places we went was the Cathedral of Notre Dame. Before we entered there were signs in several languages asking people to be respectful and not to smoke, drink, consume food or speak loudly as it was a place of worship. Everyone was compliant.
Except for a group of young Canadians. They were loud and critical in their speech, popped cans of coke and munched their way through bags of chips as they walked round. They even started playing some rock music on an iPod. The clergymen who were acting as custodians and guides did their best to get them to stop, and in the end called the Gendarmes.
The Canucks who seemed incapable of controlling their volume or understanding English or French protested all the way out!
5. A Photo To Die For
I visited the Old Jewish Cemetery in Prague in 1969. The gravestones are very old, some dating from the 1400s.
At one point, I noticed a man take out a camera. Then he decided to climb on top of a gravestone, balance himself, and start taking photos. Totally casual, like there was nothing wrong with what he was doing.
I don’t think anyone else noticed or reacted to this, but I was horrified. Once I heard this man talking, I could tell he was American like me. That realization added embarrassment to my feeling of horror.
4. You Will Roo The Day
3. Very Original
2. Not Just For Show
People forget they are actual soldiers who go to real war zones, are trained to fight people, and stand on guard with loaded rifles. They are told to stamp their feet to intimidate people, or point the bayonet at them, but they will actually shoot you if you provoke them enough.