People like to complain. It is one of our natural predispositions. Studies may suggest that we Americans complain more than others because either: a) we don't know how lucky we really are so stop whining, or b) we feel we're entitled to something more -- you pick.
We travelers are no different. Although we may be more PC about it and a tad more tolerant of the vicissitudes of travel that are out of our control (and part of our common shared human condition), we still grumble, cap and whine about the things we really hate about traveling.
Over the years, we have conducted anonymous exit debriefings to the hundreds of travelers who have just finished participating in our annual around the world travel adventure competition The Global Scavenger Hunt, about what really bugged them traveling during their latest circumnavigation. Now I have to stipulate that these are all truly great travel-savvy folks, so the usual travel pet peeves like: loud talkers, barefoot passengers, crying babies, armrest elbowers, chatty seatmates, reclining passengers, overhead luggage hogs and TSA lines seldom appear on their forms. But after a decade of such travel events, here are the dirty dozen pet peeves from those frequent flyer travelers:
1. Experiencing travelers at airports, on flights, at hotels or restaurants who think they are "special" and the rest of the world should simply comply to their every wish. (Nobody in the world but you. Really! I think we all run into these "Don't you know who I am?" types.)
2. Being made to feel nervous and like a terrorist when we arrive home to the U.S. after a trip. (Clearly the U.S. Customs and Border Protection folks need to learn to smile more... and maybe charm school lessons wouldn't hurt.)
3. When we check into a hotel at 1:15 a.m. all bleary-eyed after a trans-continental flight, we are told that check out time is 11 a. m. (WTF? When we rent a room for a day -- give us an honest 24-hour day!)
4. Fellow guests who can't close their hotel room door without slamming it. (I think we can all agree that a little common -- and quiet -- courtesy would make the world a better place to sleep in.)
5. I hate when I spend $200+ for a hotel room in a place where the water is unsafe for anyone to drink (i.e.: West Virginia, India and China), and have no complimentary water in my room.
6. Travelers, both women and men, who wear too much perfume and cologne on a plane. (Sure it beats BO -- but not by much. Non-scent deodorant is the sure cure.)
7. Watching travelers quickly look at the digital photos (aka chimping) immediately after taking them. (Spoiler Alert: All cameras have delete options for later use.)
8. Seeing travelers use their smartphone's for local information instead of having face-to-face experiences with locals.
9. The endless blaring of those annoying security announcements at U.S. airports about not leaving your bags unattended and reporting any suspicious activities. (Really! 9/11 over a decade ago, we get it already -- it is so 1984ish.)
10. All those ATM fees for accessing my money while traveling: service fees, international ATM fees, currency conversion surcharges all on top of foreign exchange fees. (The rich get richer...)
11. Fellow travelers who expect everyone to speak English and don't even try. (Imagine for a moment that you are walking down your hometown street when someone walks up to you with a map and starts talking rapidly at you in Mandarin or Hindi or Arabic. Think about it.)
12. Stampeding passengers who after a flight lands (sometimes barely at that) subscribe to the standard hurry-up-and-wait motto by trying to be the first off. (Relax folks, it took a while to load, it will take a while to unload too!)
What are your travel pet peeves? Please no baby-bashing -- we were all kids once, right?
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