I spend a lot of time on this blog gushing about the goodness in the world. But these days, that doesn’t seem to sell. In fact, one person I know accused me of being “all kumbaya about the world,” which doesn’t translate, but I’ll give them a pass. I get the gist. You don’t like my positive attitude because it doesn’t match the news you’re feeding yourself. So I’m gonna throw you a bone.
Turns out this week I’m feeling kicked around by the world. And since all anger comes from a place of pain, I’m going to give a little shove back in return. So when it comes to travel, here are 10 things I hate.
- Hosts who don’t really want to host. Exhibit A: The Grumpy Magyar. I get that you want to make a few bucks, but seriously, if you can’t be flexible with other people’s schedules or understanding of other people’s challenges and culture, don’t pretend to be a goodwill ambassador. Save us the trouble and we’ll book with someone who actually likes people.
- Prague. I’m still hatching on an entire blog about Prague, but my Mom told me if I don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. So someday I will write it. In the meantime, stay the heck away from Prague, especially during high season. It’s filthy, it’s crowded and it’s no longer a bargain. Pedestrians are so thick on the side streets that you cannot turn around much less find room to snap a photo. Drunks stumble through the squares, touts are a constant annoyance, and there’s vomit and broken glass in the gutters. Gone is the lure of cheap prices and an unspoiled view of historic architectural gems. Sure it was charming maybe 18 years ago, but now it’s overdone. And it pains me to say this because I’d heard so many people speak about their love of Prague, and I was truly excited upon arrival. In truth, it disgusted me and I left as quickly as I could book a train. If you go, do yourself a favor and go during the slow season. (Or go to Talinn, Estonia instead.)
- The centipedes on Maui. Have you seen these things? Prehistoric nightmare-inducing monsters that crawl into your bed at night. Their bite can send you to the hospital. I was there for two months these nasty creatures showed up in our office, kitchen, bedrooms and on the sidewalks and streets. Ah, I’ll take a hard pass.
- People who trample on other people’s cultural traditions and sacred sites. Yeah, I know you want to climb those ancient ruins. You have to conquer the sacred monolith and hike over burial mounds. You have to show off your shoulders at a religious site. It simply ain’t cool to tread on other people’s traditions. You wouldn’t want them trampling all over what you consider sacred, would you? You wouldn’t want them disrespecting your traditions. So don’t disrespect theirs. Educate yourself. Be kind. Be a grown up, fergawdsake. Be a traveler, not a tourist.
- People who don’t use their vacation time. I once knew an HR director who said he loved travel. Then he let it slip that he hadn’t taken a day off in three years–actually, he bragged about it. And I know far too many people who cash out their vacation, rather than using it, and far too many people who humble brag about their workaholism. Workaholism is not heroism, so get over yourself. Take some time off. You don’t even have to go across the world (although I’d recommend it). Go to the other side of the state, go to a new restaurant…whatever. Just expand your perspective a little and use your vacation time so the rest of us don’t lose the paltry 10 days the corporate world divvies out like alms for the poor. Which brings up the next thing I hate…
- American vacation time. Seriously, is this a joke? I can’t even get work off my mind for three days. One week is hardly enough time to fly to Thailand, get in a plate of pad thai, and fly home. But 10 days a year? And you lump SICK TIME into your PTO? That’s just embarrassing. It’s no wonder we’re all a bunch of sick, fat, addicted, stressed out, depressed candidates for blood pressure meds. Get with the program, America. The rest of the developed world sees the value in encouraging, even requiring workers to take a break. To learn. To grow. To expand our horizons. It’s really good for the soul. And it’s good for that thing that shall not be mentioned lest we confess we aren’t machines: mental health. We are lagging behind in paid vacation time and should be embarrassed.
- Travelers who spend their whole time on vacation talking about where they have been or where they are going. BE PRESENT. On the next leg of your journey, you’ll be talking about this place but you won’t remember much of it because you weren’t in the moment. You are only robbing yourself of the experience. P.S. You are boring.
- People who only do luxury travel. I gotta tell you, you’re missing the good stuff. Plus, it annoys those of us who truly value an authentic experience. That Americanized hotel that doesn’t challenge you at all? It’s a rip-off. You are not getting a true cultural experience, and you are not growing. You think you want to lie by the pool all day because you need to relax, but what you really need is to get out of your cute little brainwashed head and see what the rest of the world has to offer. The underbelly of the world is soft and beautiful, but if you only do luxury travel, no matter where you go, you’re going to be spoon fed what someone thinks you want. And you will never know anything better.
- Scam artists. Nothing gets my goat like getting ripped off. From the tour company who led our trip down the Mekong River and lied about our accommodations, to thieves in Rome who pick pocketed a friend, to the taxi driver in Nice, France, who charged me an exorbitant fare for one kilometer, to the international jerk who seems to be ripping off a woman I know, screw all of you. It turns out there are scam artists in this country too…don’t even get me started.
- Haters. Hey, all of you haters, guess what? Those of us who travel wind up cleaning up the worldwide mess you’ve made. Your politics, your walls, your misinformed forwarded emails, your judgement of certain races, ethnicities, genders, religions; your planet-destroying policies, and your exclusionary attitudes create a toxic world. I for one, am tired of trying to smooth over the intolerance you spew into the atmosphere. Clean up your mind; clean up your mess. Travel will help you get there, if you let it.
Now, I need to travel so I can get back to kumbaya. Because while I hate these 10 things in travel, the world has enough love to overcome them all.
Charish Badzinski is an explorer and award-winning travel and food writer. When she isn’t working to build her blog: Rollerbag Goddess Rolls the World, she applies her worldview to her small business, providing strategic communications, media relations and writing support to individuals and organizations.
Find Charish on Twitter: @charishb
Rollerbag Goddess Rolls the World by Charish Badzinski is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.