Craziest Travel Confessions (PHOTOS)

01/23/2014 03:17 pm ET | Updated Mar 25, 2014

Working at a hip New York restaurant has its hazards. "Some people are so impatient," laments a waiter. "One lady poked me in the hand with a fork while I was taking another order because she thought her food was taking too long."

That restaurant waiter is part of a battalion of professionals tasked with making travelers' experiences go smoothly, whether it's a romantic getaway, business trip, or family vacation. Consider the honeymoon planner who books your stay in Bora Bora; the porter who helps you haul your luggage out of the airport taxi; or the national park guide who fields your questions.

While you might not think twice about the valet you've entrusted your $75,000 car to, or the front desk manager you chatted with when you checked in, these people have seen it all -- and probably thought twice about you.

We've interviewed travel industry professionals to get them to 'fess up and share their tips, pet peeves, and craziest experiences. They're the eyes and ears of international travel, and their stories will make your jaw drop -- or at least inspire more courtesy and more generous tips.

--Melanie Lieberman

  • Confessions of a Front Desk Manager
    Cosmo Condina Middle East / Alamy
    I like hearing people’s stories, but please, keep it brief. We have a button on the phone that will make it ring to rescue us from a boring conversation. Not everyone tips, but some tip a lot, so it’s a wash. People have tipped me in marijuana. And yes, we can hear you when you’re having sex, sometimes even from the lobby. And I can always tell how some people are going to sound. See More of the Craziest Travel Confessions
  • Confessions of a Flight Attendant
    Radharc Images / Alamy
    A 20-year airline-industry veteran—who asked to remain anonymous—gives us the lowdown on working in the sky. People treat the plane like a bathroom. I’ve seen passengers changing their babies’ diapers on the tray table, clipping toenails, and picking their noses. Instead of the stereotype that we’ve all slept around, now it’s that we’re all old, fat, and mean. But we’re not. How to get under my skin: push the call button to find out when we’ll land or to ask for beverages before we take off. Basically, you never want to push the call button. Period. See More of the Craziest Travel Confessions
  • Confessions of a Taxi Driver
    Peter Cavanagh
    John McDonagh has been a cabbie in New York for more than 30 years (and yes, the job is as crazy as you’d think). I can almost always tell the people that are gonna get sick in my car. Two dudes helping a friend stand? Yeah...I’m not pulling over. A guy was making out with two girls at once and one got so jealous she jumped out of the moving car. I still got them to Jackson Heights all right. The worst tippers are from Europe. It’s nothing to do with cheapness; it’s their custom. New Yorkers are so spoiled. They’ll wait for a table or Broadway tickets. But a taxi? Fuhgeddaboudit. See More of the Craziest Travel Confessions
  • Confessions of an Aspen Bellman
    National Geographic Image Collection / Alamy
    A veteran porter sheds light on working at a ritzy ski-town resort. A lot of people assume that we’re good for carrying luggage, and that’s it. But we know as much or more about where to eat and what to do as the front desk or concierge. Some guests think we’re their personal assistants. They want us to get them groceries, swap their pillows, even drive them to the liquor store and wait for half an hour. We see the craziest outfits. Last year a middle-aged couple was dressed almost identically in fur boots and fur vests, with head-to-toe fake tans. Older ladies love to flirt with the bellmen. Usually they’re joking, but hookups do happen. The ratio in Aspen is about five guys to every girl—easy pickings for the cougars. See More of the Craziest Travel Confessions
  • Confessions of a Waiter
    Andres Rodriguez / Alamy
    What’s it really like to work at a hip NYC restaurant? A server dishes the dirt. Some people are so impatient: one lady poked me in the hand with a fork while I was taking another order because she thought her food was taking too long. Please don’t ask for a more desirable table. I get that you weren’t allowed to sit at the cool table in high school, but it’s only a table. Just sit down. I’ve never seen a server spit in someone’s food, no matter how much the customer deserves it. It’s just not worth it. See More of the Craziest Travel Confessions
  • Confessions of a Masseuse
    Stockbroker / Alamy
    Freda, a therapist at a well-known U.S. destination spa, reveals a few of her own pressure points. People today just can’t disengage—they even put their cell phone under the face cradle. The world is not going to fall apart in one hour! If your therapist says she needs to leave the room to get a product, she’s probably going to the bathroom. I once told a client I spilled oil on myself and went outside to throw up. I’ve seen famous actresses come out of the steam room with long, black rivers of mascara running down their faces. I wish I could take a picture and get rich! Yes, some men expose themselves to us, but I’ve never had anyone come right out and ask for a “happy ending.” They might just ask us to “massage a little higher” up their leg. See More of the Craziest Travel Confessions
  • Confessions of a Nature Guide
    dbimages / Alamy
    A Montana-based backcountry tour leader spills the dirt. In Yellowstone, I was asked: “Where do they keep the animals at night?” And in the Grand Tetons: “What is that white stuff up there?” Um, snow. People think we’re babysitters. One couple asked me if their child could sleep in the group van, so they could have some privacy! There’s always a braggart. If we’re looking at a bear, someone will inevitably say, “I once saw an elephant in Africa.” Sigh. See More of the Craziest Travel Confessions