Photo by iStock. Design by Erik Mace for Yahoo Travel.
When you’re on vacation, you could look at the historical sites, drink in the gorgeous nature views and gaze upon the marvelous cityscape. But sometimes, the most fun thing to do on a trip is not watching the places — it’s watching the people. Vacation tends to bring out all different types of tourists and touristy behaviors, and they’re all on full display on vacation. For your vacation people-watching purposes, here are the 15 types of tourists you’ll see on vacation.
You see them with their vacation map (or their smart phone app) at the ready, constantly checking off items on their to-see checklists whilst plotting the quickest course to the next tourist destination on their itinerary. For these tourists, a vacation is a chore, a list of things that have to be done. These people are valuable to have along as travel partners; they keep everyone focused on the pre-decided activities that made you want to take the trip in the first place. But if left unchecked, their Swiss clock-style precision can sap all the fun out of traveling.
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The Selfie Addict
For these tourists, the world’s most beautiful sites are little more than selfie backdrops, and a vacation didn’t really happen unless every moment of it was documented on Instagram. With a selfie stick and/or freakishly long arms, the Selfie Addict is the star of their very own travelogue.
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The Annie Leibovitz (aka, the Super Photographer)
“Hang on, stay just like that….oh wait, a little to the left…ok, yell louder. Really feel it!” (Photo: iStock)
Close cousin of the Selfie Taker, this is the extremist who never fails to interrupt the vacation action to take a group photo… actually, more like “direct” a group photo. Because the Annie Leibovitz has strong opinions about where everyone stands, the position of the sun, who’s in front of whom, who’s next to whom, etc. — and thinks nothing of interrupting the touristy fun to get just the right snap, or of holding everyone in place while reviewing the acceptability of each photo on their camera’s digital display. If you have one of these in your group, you’ll come to appreciate them over time for the pictures that you’ll enjoy for years after your trip. But still, TAKE THE EFFING PICTURE, ALREADY!
This is the one loudly cracking jokes during the tour guide’s lecture: “This guy built the Taj Mahal for his wife? She musta been Taj Ma-HOT!” Enjoyable when their jokes are funny and sparse, intolerable when they are neither (which is often the case), the Wiseass exists mainly to wrest attention from anyone who is not them, even if it’s the tour guide.
“I’ll be fiiiiiine. I’ve got insurance.” (Photo: iStock)
It’s as if they wake up on vacation and say, “I paid for the travel insurance and I’m darned well going to use it!” These super-brave tourists leap head-first into every death-defying vacation stunt one can possibly imagine: diving with sharks; jumping off bridges; parasailing, crocodile spotting; cliff diving; drinking the water in Mexico. Vacation truly is the time to adopt a “say ‘yes’ to everything” philosophy, and these guys deserve credit for doing just that. And that’s why I’m going to say “yes” to standing here on this nice, safe observation deck and cheering you on during your expensive suicide attempt.
Whether they’re trying to break a long dry spell, looking for a hot story to share with friends back home or attempting to get over a breakup by getting under a local (or a fellow tourist also will do just fine, thank you very much), these people are on a mission: to have a vacation fling. You can almost smell the pheromones emanating from these wannabe sexcationers. Not that there’s anything wrong with that: vacation is a time for adventure in all areas, including this one. Just don’t be so obvious about it. This isn’t Spring Break… unless it really is Spring Break. In which case, go have fun.
“We’re on vacation! Party Time! WOOOOOOOO!” (Photo: iStock)
They could be big-time drinkers at home who’ve merely moved the party to another location. Or they could be mild-mannered teetotallers at home who turn into the Incredible Hulks of Booze when they travel. Either way, some tourists decide the word “vacation” is derived from the Latin term for “floating your liver.” They have a little taste when they wake up; grab a mid-day cocktail at the hotel bar, have an afternoon pre-game; order every concoction on the menu at dinner. And then they start drinking. These people are good to have around for fun, but do yourself and your liver a favor: don’t try to keep up with them. The only thing worse than a bad hangover is a bad hangover that takes you out of a pre-paid vacation. Speaking of which…
A bad hangover can put you in this group — as can motion sickness, food poisoning, or picking up the flu on the plane. The vacation gods surely didn’t smile upon these poor tourists, who had the misfortune of picking up an ailment that ruins their vacation. Be kind to them. Let them in front of you in line. Offer them a tissue. Because the thing about Sickies is, you’re just one bad trip away from being one yourself.
The Ringleader Parent
“Buddy, you wanna get down from there?” “Honey, slow down and wait for the rest of us.” “Don’t wander off, Sweetie.” For parents, especially those with multiple small children, a vacation is a logistical nightmare. You can see them with a look of exhaustion and exasperation permanently etched into their faces as their kids, hopped up on the excitement of travel, become little free-running nightmares of vacation adrenaline. Keeping their kids in line when you’re at home is hard enough. But keeping a constant watch on them in surroundings unfamiliar to them is downright terrifying. These poor folks aren’t on vacation as much as they are wrangling their children in another part of the world.
The Parent About to Lose His/Her S***
No one wants to be around when that kettle blows. (Photo: Getty Images)
Left unchecked, Ringleader Parents can transform into this. It’s not a pretty sight. I saw it happen once during a visit to New York City’s American Museum of Natural History, where I was standing near a mother with a boy who looked to be about 6. The boy was whining loudly about something. You could tell the mother was trying to ignore the constant, high-pitched wail coming from her offspring, but at one point, she apparently decided she just couldn’t take anymore. She leaned down, gently took the boy’s face in her hand and said, ever-so-softly, “You really need to be quiet right now.” When the boy attempted to continue his whine, the mom closed her eyes and said, even more quietly, “Shhhh… you really need to be quiet right now.” I found myself backing away in proxy fear. The child had yet to learn that they get quiet right before they go thermonuclear. I wanted to warn him, but I figured he was about two minutes away from learning that lesson himself.
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Doesn’t matter if you’re at a landmark, a famous bar/restaurant or in line for check-in, this tourist uses vacations as an opportunity to chat up anybody and everybody he meets. While most other tourists want to learn about the history of the city or landmark they’re visiting, this guy wants to learn YOUR life’s story: “Where are you from?” “What brings you here?” “What have you seen so far?” “Wanna meet my kids?” If you’re normally shy at home, take your vacation as an opportunity to come out of your shell and chat up these super-friendly fellow tourists (as long as they’re not creepy).
Often observed in group trips, the Waldo has an annoying tendency to disappear at the most inopportune times: “The van to the airport is here… waitaminute… Where’s Waldo?” Waldos can throw off the most carefully-planned itineraries with their constant disappearing acts, which often require the entire group to search for them (because on vacation, tourists tend to enforce a “Leave No Man Behind” edict with military zeal). In addition to their constant vanishing, Waldos are often distinguished by their air of innocent umbrage whenever they finally are located: “What was everyone so worried about? I just ran into the gift shop for just a second…”
“You need your beach shoes, your walking shoes, your cocktail-hour shoes, your dinner shoes, your going-out-at-night shoes.” (Photo: iStock)
Going to a rain forest? This tourist is decked out in head-to-toe khaki survival gear. Headed to a museum? You see them again in intellectual mode with glasses and a conservative sweater. Headed to dinner? They’re dressed to the nines. On a single day, this tourist goes through more wardrobe changes than Beyoncé at an awards show. They always look fabulous and always make you feel underdressed for your day of sightseeing. But you’ll feel better at the airport when you see them heading to slog through baggage claim to retrieve their humongous suitcase(s) while you get to zip away with your small, smartly-packed carry-on.
The Pre-Breakup Couple
Yes, vacations can be trying at times; it’s perfectly natural for such pressures to cause some mild squabbling between committed partners. But these tourists can’t even go three days in a beautiful vacation spot without having a full-on public blowout. Maybe the vacation was a futile, last-ditch attempt to mend their broken-beyond-repair relationship, or maybe the everyday challenges of travel were enough to push this already-fragile couple past the breaking point. Either way, they always cause a spectacle, whether it’s strangers who are forced to endure the couple’s arguments or members of the couple’s traveling party (who you can bet have already started deciding which one of the pair they’re going to stay friends with after the inevitable break-up).
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The “Everything is Awesome” Tourist
Everything IS awesome. (Photo: Getty Images)
These are the tourists with the song “Everything is Awesome” on permanent loops in their heads. They are so incredibly happy to be on vacation, everything they see on vacation is “Amazing,” “Incredible,” “Gorgeous.” Stay close to these people; when the minor annoyances of travel start to take their toll, they can help remind you that traveling is fun, no matter what kind of tourists you meet on your trip.