Travel can be transformative, exhilarating... and at times, ridiculously annoying. While I typically write about the sunshine-y aspects of travel (I'm just a rainbows and roses kinda gal), there's a whole spate of ish that positively annoys me to no end.
Read on as I rhyme off my top five travel pet peeves:
1. American/British/Canadian/Australian travelers who expect everyone to speak English wherever they travel.
Yes, Anglophones, I'm looking at you. My English-speaking brethren tend to do this far more than any other group, in my experience. I see it again and again: Mary-Jane from Mississipi buys a plane ticket to Madrid, seeking to soak up culture and the Spanish sun, yet can't even muster an "hola" or "por favor" when ordering tapas. Yes, English is by far one of the most spoken languages on the planet, but one of the joys of travel is connecting with -- and integrating oneself into -- the local culture. Would it kill you to learn a few words in the language of the host country? A side of Español to go with your Spanish omelette? For me, this is travel etiquette rule number one. I took Spanish classes in Guatemala two summers ago, and use it whenever I can; when I was in Peru last spring, my non-perfect Spanish still managed to serve me well. After all, a little diplomacy goes a long way.
2. People who dress inappropriately at cultural and/or religious sites.
Last February, I went to Dubai and made a side trip to the Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi. As a condition of entry, women must be completely covered. So, I donned the abaya provided free of charge: the long, black garment that covers the hair, forearms and offending knees. I walked into the mosque amongst a sea of abaya-clad tourists, all of us pictures of modesty, except one -- I was appalled to see a female tourist in a see-through white singlet and skin-tight neon pink hot pants. Ew! I can't say it often enough: Respect the culture and the customs of the countries you go to. This often means abiding by dress codes at historic sites that are important in the host country. Ladies and gents, dress appropriately -- anything else is just disrespectful and embarrassing.
3. Having to pay for food and checked luggage on flights.
So I pay $500 for a flight (half of which was probably for taxes). Now you're going to charge me an extra $25 to bring... my bag? And extra $5 for a stale sandwich and coke? It just seems ridiculous to me, and so, so counter-intuitive -- why not just include the extra $30 in the cost of the ticket? I swear, we wouldn't notice. Just sneak it in. It's infuriating to find out that you have to pay more for what should be a basic service. Like seriously.
4. Hotels that skimp on the towels and toiletries.
This is another gripe of mine. When I shower, I may opt to wash my hair... which necessitates the use of another towel. Don't give me just one! And, just a tip, I'm going to need a towel that's larger than a handkerchief to dry my body. I'm more Tonka-truck than Tinkerbell; I need a decent-sized towel to cover my lady bits. As for toiletries, can I get some lotion? This brown girl's skin dries out and cracks mercilessly when I don't apply moisturizer (see Dave Chappelle's "Ashy Larry" character for reference). It ain't pretty. Help a sista out. Please.
5. No free airport Wi-Fi/very expensive airport Wi-Fi.
It may be because I'm a blogger, but I start foaming at the mouth if I don't have an Internet connection. I need Wi-Fi to while the hours away in the airport between flights. It just seems wrong to have to pay for Wi-Fi in 2012, especially when rates are to the tune of $10 an hour (that's just crazy talk)! It's just bad form and poor travel etiquette.
What do you think of my list? Do have any travel pet peeves or travel etiquette tips to share?
Read more of Oneika's travel adventures on her blog: Oneika the Traveller
Follow Oneika Raymond on Twitter: www.twitter.com/OneikaTraveller