We’ve all been on a tour where someone does something so ridiculous you all cringe: a family trying to ride a buffalo, someone telling your tour guide that their accent isn’t right, or one tourist asking if they have Christmas in Canada. Tour guides have seen and heard it all. These tour guides share the most hilarious and incredibly dumb things they’ve experienced on their tours.
50. A Pirate’s Life For Me
I worked at a magical theme park and had a woman come up to ask me a question. I stood in front of the pirate ride, dressed as a pirate, and she asked, “Where is the pirate ride?” I looked up at the big sign then back at her, then again at the sign, then to her. She became frustrated I wasn’t answering her so she asked me again louder, “Where is the pirate ride?” I pointed to the train to my left told her to take the train to the fourth exit and get off and it will be on your right. The train has 4 total exits and I went on my break just in time to see her get off the train and give me an angry look. Then she got on the pirate ride.
49. Nice And Easy
In France, we were dispatching a tour to Nice and Eze (pronounced correctly sounds like Niece and Ezzz) but when it was called over the intercom no one moved. We tried again and still, no one budged. Finally, we tried again with “nice and easy” and everyone jumped up and headed to the bus.
48. Alaska’s Next To Hawaii… Right?
I went on a cruise to Alaska one summer. One of the other passengers, a girl in her early 20s, packed only bikinis, short-shorts, and tank tops. One of the landing party tour guides asked her why she didn’t pack more warmly. She said it was because the weather channel always shows Hawaii and Alaska right next to each other. I gave up on the human race right then.
47. There’s A Canadian Christmas After All
I give tours in Vancouver. I had some Americans from Florida ask if we had Christmas here. They were also surprised that we had our own lottery.
46. Just Flick The Big Switch
Not a tour guide but frequently asked by tourists. “What time do they turn Niagara Falls off?” or “If this is Canada why is so hot? and why aren’t you speaking French?”. It was August and I can speak any language I want! and don’t get me started on this one lady who threw a hissy fit, because she got Canadian change back after shopping at Dollarama.
45. Concrete Or Snow?
I used to work for a ski resort in Colorado for a summer. Texans were notorious for silly questions.
A lady asked me in total seriousness, “How did you get that there cement up on that there mountain?” I looked where they were pointing while asking the question: Residual snow on the mountaintop. They actually thought we covered a mountain peak in concrete. It was a facepalm moment for the woman asking.
44. A Bear Cub Is Not A Kitten
A couple of European tourists asked the tour guide where they could see some bears. The ranger mentioned a few spots where bears are known to be and cautioned them to be careful. The next year, he saw the same couple and they thanked him and showed him some pictures they had taken. In one of them, there was a picture of the wife holding a black bear cub and smiling. The ranger kinda lost it on them.
43. When Your Accent Isn’t Southern Enough
Visitor: “You’re not from around here, are you?”
Me: “Actually I am, born and raised.”
Visitor: “Well, I’ve been coming to the South for 25 years and you just don’t seem like you’re from here.”
Me: “Well, um, my parents don’t have strong accents either.”
Visitor: “I just think I would like you better if you had a Southern accent.”
Sorry that playing up to stereotypes is not in our visitor’s services manual. I’m here to talk about history, not recreate your Southern fantasy.
42. Don’t Go Chasing Waterfalls
Some lady asked me when I worked at the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, “When do they turn on the waterfalls?”
Lady, for $50, I’ll make sure it’s turned on for your family.
41. A Little Common Sense
Tour guide in Copenhagen here.
For some reason, I have had a few tourists showing up for outdoor tours in shorts and T-shirts in the middle of winter. I honestly don’t know what they were expecting, the wind chill can be brutal here.
I’ve had a couple of people ask me how they can get to Legoland (since Lego is from Denmark), and be genuinely disappointed when I tell them it’s pretty much on the other side of the country. You would think if it mattered that much, you would check that beforehand.
People ask if I have learned to speak Dutch since moving to Denmark.
A guy who used to work with me had a tourist ask him how to tell if you have a kidney infection, which was pretty bizarre.
Two guys on a trip wanted to relieve themselves in a shop window because “nobody’s around; it’ll be fine”. I literally had to beg them to wait until we reached the next place.
Most of the tourists I work with are perfectly nice and I don’t think people are dumb for not knowing everything about a new city/country, but sometimes people do need to use a little common sense.
40. Show Me The Money
I worked at a marina in Canada for a while, and we got a lot of US yacht owners in from cruising around the coast. (We are not near the border.) I had this one lady pay in US dollars, which is fine; I even took it on par at the time. (In the early 2000s our dollar was higher.)
She was livid when we gave her Canadian bills as change, outright demanding American bills. When we explained that we didn’t just keep a stack on hand for the change, she just kept demanding because, “I can’t take your money, it’s useless in America, I’ll just have to throw it in the trash.”
Disclaimer: 80% of American boaters were just fine. Mostly old people with tiny dogs named “Diesel”.
39. Banned For Life From A Tour Bus
I sold the tickets for tour buses so I met all of the tourists before they took the tours.
The most frustrating experience was probably when a woman handed me a $100 bill for a $45 bus ride. I was digging through my float (an envelope of money) for the money to give her back. I took out a $50 and then rummaged around for a $5. I handed her the $5 and couldn’t remember if I had given her the $50 or not so I asked, “I’m sorry, did I give you a $50 bill?” She stared at me blankly. “Did I uh… Did I hand you a $50? I can’t remember, I’m sorry.”
More staring and just kind of muttering. “Oh, well, $50 is a huge sum. If I forgot it, I’m sure she’ll flag me down before I get off the bus,” I thought to myself. I checked everyone else’s tickets, got off the bus. About half an hour later, I got a call on my walkie: “I’ve got a woman here who says you didn’t give her $50?” (She spoke perfect English, by the way. She talked to me as I was discussing the pricing with her.)
There was another woman who came up to me while I was working (I was stationed outside of museums to sell the tickets) and her face was caked in makeup. Like, she looked like a clown. She came over and started talking to me, telling me that she loves our bus rides and that she’s good friends with our company. She took out a picture of her on one of our tours and showed it to me. Then she started rambling about whatever. I didn’t mind the company, honestly. When I got back to my station at the end of the day, I told my boss and she said, “OH. Oh no, her?! She’s back?!” My boss then explained to me that she was the only person banned for life from our tours for assaulting other clients with her purse because they wouldn’t buy her paintings.
38. Tourists Are Weird
I’m from just outside of Atlanta, GA. I also had zero relatives who fought in the Civil War. That is important to the story.
I interned up in Massachusetts at a museum one summer. One of the best stories was one of our many Chinese tour groups. By and large, they were always picture-happy, but generally respectful. We had just changed out an exhibit, and the newest one was focused on the local people who had fought in the Civil War. There were a couple of local folks who had gone to fight for the Confederacy, and we had a mannequin display with a recreation uniform. The mannequin had a Confederate battle flag draped over his arm.
When giving the tour of the room, I often brought up the educational differences between the way modern-day schools talk about the war in different parts of the country. One of the tourists piped up and said, “So you are Confederacy?” I said, “No, that was a long time ago, and none of my family was involved. I was just born in Georgia.” But they started talking to each other quickly in Chinese, and one of them grabbed the hat off the mannequin.
Next thing I know, half the group is taking pictures, and the other half is trying to get this hat on me and tossing the flag at me. I had to grab both of them back. I tried to put them back in their correct places, ask them not to touch anything, and carry on with the tour. Turns out, as soon as I left the room to take them into the hallway, they grabbed them again and started trying to get me to put them on.
I didn’t have the authority to ask people to leave the museum (intern) so I radioed for my supervisor. He instead agreed to finish the tour, but if anything else was touched the group would be thrown out. Someone picked up a 200-year-old painting on the 2nd floor that wasn’t behind glass yet, and they were told to not come back.
I have so many stories from that place. Tourists are weird.
37. Call The Archbishop
I worked as a tour guide at a few really old churches. Most people were fantastic, but some are astonishingly terrible.
Three types of tourists come up pretty often:
1. Those who interrupt to sound smart and it backfires miserably: “Oh, the bell tower collapsed in 1605? Well OBVIOUSLY it was damaged by peasants at the start of the French Revolution as all symbols of religion were reviled…” Nah, bro, you’re, like 180, years off.
2. Those who DEMAND to see closed sections of the church. One lady threatened to “call the archbishop on me” because I couldn’t take her down to the crypt. Look, it’s locked and no one’s seen the key in 300 years; I don’t know what to tell you.
3. Those who mock me/try to challenge me on every part of the tour. If you hate it so much, then why are you paying to be here?
Again, they were the exceptions. Most of the time, I had a lot of fun and really enjoyed the groups I led. But some people seem to go out of their way to be dumb/rude.
36. You’re Not In Pearl Harbor, Sir
“Are those islands in the bay real?”
“Who turns all the boats in the water to face the same way?”
“Where are all the military ships?” This person thought Pearl Harbor occurred there because apparently there is only one harbor in the U.S.
35. Witches Only Town
I work as a tour guide in Salem, Massachusetts. Every tour has at least one person asking if I’m a real witch because why else would I live here? The worst part is when you tell them no, they usually say, “Yeah, sure you’re not,” and wink at me.
34. Bringing Shame To Americans
Two American tourists on a Eurostar train were waiting to depart Paris for London.
“What time does the train depart?”
“I’m not sure. The ticket only has military time on it.”
“I wish they would use normal time. It’s offensive to us Americans who don’t understand military time.”
As an American who is capable of subtracting 12 from a number, all I could do was lay my head in my palms and wish I could smack them across the face.
33. Come To See The Wild Human
I worked at a petting farm and there I took a few photos for people. Mostly standard stuff, but one day the cockatoo was at the top of the slide in the little park area (it was his favorite place). The slide wasn’t that popular, so normally we let him be.
There was an Asian couple, however, who decided to join him. I spotted them so I went over to supervise and talk about him a little. For those who don’t know, cockatoos get a little nippy with people they don’t know or like. Luckily, I was in the accepted circle of people who he gets friendly with so that allows me to control him when he gets “playful”.
I go over and talk to the couple so they don’t get bitten and they were very impressed. I put the bird back down on the slide as we were finished and they took out a camera and asked for a photo. I said sure. But instead of wanting ME to take a photo they just wanted a photo of me (with the bird not in frame). It was fine and all but I just felt weird they wanted a picture of me and not the big bird nor themselves by it. I was, like, 12 when this happened so I was just a little shocked. My mum thinks it’s because I have lighter hair.
32. This May Be Scarier Than The Confederacy
I was a tour guide for the Confederate White House in Richmond Virginia, where Jefferson Davis stayed while president of the Confederacy. I had a family come in thinking they had arrived at the actual, real White House. It took me a second to realize they were serious.
31. Wouldn’t It Be Nice
I work at Epcot in Disney World and one day I was walking to my break and a guest asked me with a totally serious tone, “Miss! When are you guys gonna put the dome up? It’s raining.”
I had to stifle a laugh and explain we don’t have a dome that covers Disney World when it rains.
30. Bikinis Aren’t Meant For Diving
I was lobster diving off a boat in Palm Beach. A group of fellas had a good looking girl with them. They were in wetsuits; she had a nice two-piece bikini. When you lobster dive, you carry a net bag with a long string to carry your catch. They had hooks/snaps to drag around. She just tied it to her bottom bikini. They did well, putting their catch in the bags, letting them fall behind. When they were surfacing, a great barracuda went for a snack. A tasty lobster in a bag, with the bottom bikini attached. Needless to say, the girl went up the ladder first to get on the dive boat. She didn’t even flinch!
29. No, Those Aren’t Pet Elk
I worked at a resort in Jasper National Park, Canada. That lake really is a spectacular blue-green color and very clear. I had people earnestly ask me if we drained it and painted the bottom blue.
We also had wild elk wandering around the resort property to graze, and I was asked on more than one occasion, “Where we keep them during the day?” (They are most active at dawn and dusk.)
28. Shark Attack
I was teaching a couple of tourists to surf and a dolphin came near us and they screamed “SHARKS!” They ran onto the shore and told the lifeguard. The lifeguard swam out to me and I showed him that it was a dolphin.
There is also this cove called La Jolla Cove that has a reef that is home to a bunch of fish and sea lions. So I’m showing these people around the cove with snorkels and I notice a couple is missing. THEY HAD CLIMBED UP ONTO THE ROCKS WITH THE SEA LIONS ON THEM AND WERE GOING TO PET THEM. I started screaming at them along with the lifeguards because the sea lions were starting to freak out. I put them back on the beach and told them not to move.
27. How Many Watermelons Fit In The Cave?
I work as a tour guide at a local cave. Some of my favorite and reoccurring questions are: “How much sunscreen do I need to bring?” “Are we going underground?” “Will we see the cave?” “Is there a restroom?” (as we’re 100 feet underground in a tiny hole) “How many watermelons fit in the cave?” (Yeah, I don’t know either….)
26. I Don’t Think Whales Can Live In A Lake, Sir
I used to give tours on a glacial lake in Alaska. It never ceased to amaze me how many tourists asked if there were whales in the lake.
25. This Isn’t A Mall
A group of guests asked me when the city’s shopping district closed.
At first, I thought this was a simple misunderstanding. Obviously, they’d never been there and thought it was a mall rather than a section of the city with lots of stores in it. I explained that the stores all had their own hours and weren’t connected or related in any way, and that I personally didn’t happen to know the hours of any of them, but that a lot of the stores had websites, so they could look up the hours on their smartphones.
This was a completely unacceptable answer. They kept demanding to know when the entire thing closed. Every time I re-explained to them the concept of a neighborhood with lots of unrelated stores, they responded with things like, “We just need to know when [that entire chunk of the city] closes,” or “We need to go to [whatever store],” and “We don’t want to look up their hours online, we want YOU to tell us.”
They told me I was terrible at my job for not having memorized every fact about the entire city that any tourist might ever want to know. I eventually told them that I was not a tour guide, it was not my job to do anything other than work in this restaurant, and that the reason I didn’t know the store hours was that my job didn’t pay me enough to shop there. They left still raving about how horrible I was and that I should be fired.
24. This Isn’t A Lazy River
I rent out paddleboards to people on our local river, and people ask us all the time if the river goes in a loop. Sure, lady, it’s just like at the Hilton Resort in Hawaii: grab a nice beverage and hop on in, we’ll see you in a few hours!
23. Europe Is Pretty Big
Finally, my time to shine! I work for a student travel company in Europe for primarily study abroad kids. I’ve heard it all.
In Paris, “This is so dumb, we haven’t even seen Big Ben yet.”
In Amsterdam at Anne Frank House, “what’s the likelihood that Anne got to get ripped while hanging in the attic? Because you know it was in Amsterdam.”
In Prague, a student heard the clicking of a crosswalk for the timer and she asked: “Is that clicking for blind drivers to stop and know that pedestrians are crossing?” I have plenty more.
22. Show And Tell
This wasn’t really that dumb, but annoying. I’m French Canadian and I was giving some information to four French tourists, and suddenly I noticed that this woman has her camera pointed at me. I’m embarrassed but I still keep giving the information. At the end, they ALL start laughing. At this point, my face is red and I’m feeling super uncomfortable. I ask the woman if she was filming me and she says, “Yes, your accent is too funny I have to show that to my friends in France.” Basically, I felt like some kind of freak show and that woman didn’t even ask me before starting to film, she just put the camera in front of my face, which was really disrespectful. Let me tell you that I’m very self-conscious and I felt terrible after that.
21. Ghosts Of Humidity
I used to work for a ghost tour company for extra cash. I live in the south and it’s VERY humid pretty much year-round.
One night I had a small group of about six people and we were going through locations pretty quickly. At the company I worked for, our tours were never quite the same. It was up to each guide which locations to hit and which stories to tell in X amount of time. We just guaranteed that you’d be able to go inside one “haunted” location. Most groups hit three to five locations.
One of our indoor locations was a bed and breakfast, one was an old jail/courthouse, and another was a cemetery. I ran the group by the bed and breakfast but another group was already touring it so I decided to hit the cemetery and then go back to the bed and breakfast since they were such a fast group.
I walked everyone through the cemetery, told all the stories, and answered questions. I let everyone have time to take photos to kill some time. As everyone was grouping back together to head to the bed and breakfast, one of the guys comes running up waving his camera around saying he got the best ghost pictures EVER.
I checked it out. He had about 30 pictures of humidity. All the other people start checking their photos. Sure enough, they all have it too. Every last one of them said it was the best ghost tour they ever went on.
20. I Didn’t Have Any Ancestors Back Then
I worked at the Visitor’s Center in Gettysburg for a while. Here are some of my favorites:
“Do they take the monuments in at night, or just leave them on the battlefield?”
“Why aren’t there any bullet holes in the monuments?”
“Oh, I didn’t have any ancestors back then.”
19. A Segway Tour Accident
I used to work as a tour guide for the college I go to. As part of my job, I gave Segway tours to prospective students and their families.
One time I was with a couple of families, and one of them had a 10-year-old boy with them. I was leading them through the tour and at one point we were in a parking lot getting ready to park the Segways before heading inside a building.
The 10-year-old boy had gotten off of his too early and was trying to get back on to catch up to the rest of the group. Instead of getting on the Segway when it’s stationary like you’re supposed to, the kid tried to jump on after getting a running start.
He completely flipped over the front of the Segway and landed helmet-first on the parking lot concrete. He was fine, but instead of checking on him like a good tour guide I started laughing uncontrollably. As you can guess I wasn’t that family’s favorite person after that.
18. Don’t Ride The Elk
I worked in Yellowstone National Park for a summer and enjoyed spending some downtime taking tours.
My favorites include:
“When do you guys take out the bears?”
“Can we ride the elk?”
“If the volcano is going to erupt on us tomorrow, why can’t I take rocks home with me?”
I also saw someone drive onto the hot springs area. Caused $10,000 in damages to resources.
17. It’s A living Rock
I was at the Monterey Bay aquarium and they have a row of touch-and-feel tanks with things like sea cucumbers, starfish, and other things like that. In one of the tanks there was a gumboot chiton. It’s a big blob thing that has a foot like a snails or slugs.
Well, along comes a younger kid about 6 or 7 and he’s looking at it all excited and feeling it. Then all of a sudden he grabs the thing and yanks it up from out of the water waving it around showing his parents who don’t seem to be concerned in this slightest. I love sea creatures of all kind and seeing him do this got me a little upset to the point where I yelled at the kid to put it down.
Then all of a sudden here come the parents with, “Don’t you yell at our child, he wasn’t doing anything to hurt it, blah, blah, blah.” Why do people have to be so dumb? Just because it looks like a rock doesn’t mean it’s a rock.
16. Same Country Man
Worked as a tour guide in Alaska. Had (American) tourists ask about the exchange rate.
15. Different Countries Same Language
My family went on a trip to Spain, and on our tour, there was a guy who kept asking why everybody was speaking “Mexican.” We and the tour guide kept telling him that it’s Spanish, not Mexican, but he kept doing it. He even called a bunch of Spaniards Mexican to their face. Apparently, he thought all Hispanic people were “Mexican.” I hope I never have to go on a tour with someone who ruins the experience like that again.
14. The Winner Wins
I was a tour guide at a horse track, and someone asked me “how do you know who wins?”… you know, because the horse who finishes first wins.
13. Is This Real Life?
I was on a cruise ship in Alaska, and eventually, someone asks the cruise ship recreation manager about the dumbest question that he’s been asked.
He said that once, some woman looked over the side of the cruise ship and asked if the water was real.
12. Wrong Audience
My dad went to Israel recently and wore a shirt around that read “bring pork to the people”. It was from his favorite bbq place, and he didn’t see the problem.
11. Chemical Burns For The Whole Family
In Wyoming, it is common to buy bear spray (highly concentrated pepper spray) when heading into Yellowstone. One tourist believed it was bear repellent, lined up his family and sprayed all of them. Chemical burns for everyone!
As a raft guide, we regularly got asked whether we would be passing the same spot/going through the same rapid later in the journey. We would reply, “Why yes, this is actually one of the only circular rivers in the world!”
10. Everyone Deserves A Name
I’m a tour guide for a dogsledding company in Iceland and we get some really silly questions. My favorite is when a customer first sees the 36 dogs and asks “Do they have names???” Like we call them all by numbers.
9. What Does L.A. Stand For
Not a tour guide, but was on a tour.
“When do we get to Los Angeles?”
The tour started at L.A. She didn’t know that L.A. and Los Angeles were the same thing.
8. Are You For Real?
From my husband that was a tour guide at the Animal Kingdom in Disney World: 1.) “Is that real rain, or Disney rain?” …it was just raining 2.) “Hey, man, do you ever hear those elephants fart?” 3.) “Can my son go pee in the corner over there so we don’t lose our place in line?”
Working on a teaching farm, a thirty-five-year-old adult with two kids asked me if it was OK to pet the horse. It was a cow. I said, “Sure.”
6. Just Repeat What You Said
At Disney, “What time is the 3 o’clock parade?”
5. I’ll Give You Three Salmon For A Root Canal
I do nature tours in Southeast Alaska. Basically, we take people on walks in the woods and teach them about the local flora and fauna. My absolute favorite story was when myself and another guide were passing around Sitka spruce and Western red cedar branches. The other guide was explaining how Sitka spruce needles are actually edible, so one guy doesn’t wait for the go-ahead and just takes a big bite out of the tree branch he was holding. The only problem was, he was holding the cedar. We were like, “Sir, it’s actually the other tree that’s edible…” He just shrugged and kept eating it. What a baller.
4. Wild Animals Are Wild; Stay Away
In Yellowstone National Park, a tourist was trying to take a picture with some buffalo. He had his child, probably three years old, with him, and he was walking towards the buffalo. His wife was holding the camera, ready to take the picture. I knew that he was trying to put his kid onto the buffalo or pose with it or something else immensely idiotic. Fortunately, a park ranger stopped him before anything serious happened. Apparently, this is fairly common in Yellowstone and most people who try it are injured or worse. Wild animals are wild. Stay away.
3. Look Around You
Was asked to the guide by a fellow traveler on a tour in Scotland: “Do you know at what altitude above sea level we are?”
We were right next to the ocean.
2. Multiple Moons
Somewhere in the southern hemisphere – “Is that the same moon we have in Texas?”
1. When Deer Turn To Elk
Yellowstone National Park tourists: “Where do they put the animals in winter?”
At the beginning of a river raft float: “So the boat ends back here right?” (“Yes ma’am, this is a circular river.”)
Finally, a question so dumb, you wonder how they came up with it: “What time of the year do the deer turn into elk?”