Joy-Robbing Travelers To Avoid At All Costs
I see it in nearly every travel situation, be it a cruise vacation, land travel or in the air. At hotels, restaurants, iconic attractions around the world, on cruise ships, airplanes, trains and more: joy-robbing travelers wait in hiding. The older I get, the better prepared I am to head these people off at the pass and rarely get caught by surprise. Most often, I see them coming a mile away and divert my course to the opposite direction. We’ll call them Problem Travelers for now and see how that fits by the end of this quick post. No rant, just the facts.
The It’s All About Me Traveler
Travelers like this are easy to spot and one of the most distracting. They interrupt someone who is speaking (about anything) to interject their personal thoughts and vast experience on the topic. Sneaky about it, they often begin by laying the groundwork. ‘You and I are exactly alike’, one such person began on a trip of many years ago. ‘You and I have so much in common!’ said another. Directed at the right prey, that’s all it takes to break down safety barriers that would normally prevent what happens next: they want something not really due them. That could be anything from a dose of praise needed by a person with ultra low self esteem to something you possess that they want.
Avoiding the the It’s All About Me traveler is easier said than done in a group situation. The smaller the group, the harder it is to avoid them. Frankly, it’s their problem, not yours but their inappropriate focus can easily ruin just about any travel situation. When we travel, we enjoy doing so in the company of others, regardless of the size of the ship or where it goes. The shared experience element of a cruise vacation can bring one of the most enjoyable elements of travel at every port of call. Sure, some places offer more attractions, opportunities to connect and reason for choosing a particular itinerary. But at the end of the journey when reflecting on what we have seen and done along the way, these people stand out as a negative part of the experience.
The best end result of being subjected to the It’s All About Me traveler is remembering them as a minor irritation, lesson learned, avoid that type in the future. The worst outcome is that we were not able to shake them during travel and they robbed us of quality time at a destination. That, my friends, is good reason to address the situation right up front, call them on their personal rant and move along. It may be unpleasant at the time but I guarantee you once they know you are on to them, they will shut up and move along to their next victim.
The Constant Complainer
This one can be found anywhere. Basically, they choose to go negative in any situation, no matter when or where it happens.
On a recent Mediterranean sailing, the cruise line had arranged for us to experience a lovely performance at the world-famous Teatro La Venice Opera house in Italy. On this upscale cruise line, passengers who have booked the most luxurious accommodations on the ship were given priority access to the best seats in the house. As a member of the press, not actually booked in a luxurious suite, I tagged along. To make the experience even more pleasant, those privileged passengers were transferred to the venue ahead of all others on the ship, arriving a good 40 minutes ahead of the rest.
The Constant Complainer in the small group of the privileged few chose to complain about the ‘poorly timed’ transfer of the cruise line bringing us into the ‘sweltering hot’ opera house to wait. I happened to be just behind this person when we returned to the ship to overhear her telling a security guard just inside the vessel ‘Finally! Air Conditioning!’ continuing her rant throughout the day.
Now let’s think about this for a moment. The logistics alone of moving hundreds of people off a cruise ship, taking them via water taxi to the area of the Venice opera house and then lead them to the venue and back without losing one is impressive. That the cruise line rented the entire opera house for our group, also impressive. The Constant Complainer could have enjoyed the space with unobstructed views of every square inch of the place prior to everyone else arriving. She could have appreciated the performance in the opera house, recently restored to it’s original 1792 beauty, authentic down to the fact that air conditioning was not a part of the scene then.
Instead she chose to complain. Worse yet, she stole the spotlight from what might otherwise have been one of the highlights of the entire voyage. That’s the reason to avoid these kind of travelers.
The Oblivious Traveler
This is another version of the It’s All About Me traveler but they have no end game or motivation to gain personally at the expense of others. They are just stupid. They can commonly be found on long, overnight flights to other parts of the world originating from North America. When everyone else is sleeping (or trying to sleep), window shades down to help with that, they have theirs open, ruining the sleep-encouraging ambiance of the aircraft cabin.
Interestingly, this is also a good test of the level of the airline’s customer service focus or at least the focus of the cabin crew on that particular flight. Good ones will ask the Oblivious Traveler to lower their shade and use a reading light. Bad ones won’t care and most commonly resent you taking them away from their primary focus: chatting with other flight attendants.
I bring up this topic toward the end of an intense year of travel by land, sea and air for one very big reason: It is easy not to recognize these people until it is too late. We are all about enabling readers to get the best travel experience for them. In that respect, the customizable nature of a cruise vacation makes travel by ship a wonderful option.
No one is forcing someone who hates opera to attend a performance. The Constant Complainer profiled above would have been better off doing something else, both for themselves and out of respect for the rights of other travelers to enjoy the experience.
The actions of The Oblivious Traveler may seem just mildly annoying at the time. But if their open window shade prevents others from sleeping on a plane and waking refreshed to begin their much-anticipated travel experience, that’s crossing the line.
The warm fuzzy feeling one might get from interacting with the It’s All About Me traveler soon wears off when they turn on us. Wasting out time trying to figure out what their endgame is distracts our attention from more important matters.
I think that’s about as deep as I will go on this topic. Going further would require the input of someone qualified in the field of psychology…and I may do just that for a future post, updating this information with more detail from a qualified source. For now, read this again just before travel to help recognize these joy-robbing travelers and take steps to avoid them. I think you’ll be glad you did.
Problem travelers? Yes, that fits like a glove.