The Worst Type Of Travelers And How To Handle Them

You can spend months or even years planning your dream vacation, but one thing you can't do is people-proof your vacation. And if the internet has taught us anything, it's that terrible travelers are more common than most of us would probably like to think. From mid-flight meltdowns to poolside Karens, there's a decent chance you're going to run into a human-shaped buzzkill if you travel long enough. The good news is that you don't have to let them rain on your parade. 

While there's no way to stop people from doing the very worst sort of people things in the general vicinity of your otherwise chill vibe zone, knowing what to expect — and how to respond — can make a world of difference. To help you stay in your happy travel bubble, here are some of the worst travel archetypes and how to prevent them from ruining your next vacation.

Chatty Cathys

Having someone next to you on a flight, bus, or tour with a relentless gift of gab can grow pretty taxing, especially when you'd rather be staring out the window in quiet contemplation or just don't feel comfortable with your new pal's personality. And then there are those loud talkers seated a row or two over from you on a flight who are either blissfully unaware or don't care that everyone in a half-mile radius is privy to their conversation.

Expressing his frustration about one such experience, one Reddit user posted a photo of his young son lying down with his ears covered, along with the comment, "On a flight today, the two women behind us talked loudly the entire flight. Took this picture thinking my son was asleep." A Flytertalk user recounted a similar experience, writing, "On a CO flight last week there were 2 people in First right behind me that did not stop talking the entire flight. From the time they sat down until they got off the plane. They were not yelling but just running their mouth the entire flight ... Really annoying."

One of the best ways to prevent these loquacious folks from ruining your flight is to tune them out, another comment in the Reddit thread advises, adding that their "standard flight kit" includes a good pair of over-ear headphones, two pairs of earplugs, an eye mask, and a fair amount of gin and tonic. The first three items would probably work just fine.

Gum-chewing Gabbys

Occasionally, the folks who break out their gum to help ease the ear pressure as a flight ascends can get a bit carried away. And it's hard to imagine anyone would be comfortable seated nearby a loud gum-smacker. Factor in additional sensory sensitivities, and the experience can become borderline excruciating for some folks. Writing on a Reddit page for people who have misophonia, a disorder that causes a strong neurophysiological response to certain sounds, one user recalled the misery of having to sit near a loud chewer. After declaring that chewing gum should be "illegal" on planes, they complained, "I am sitting right behind someone chewing gum and another person eating and on the verge of a panic attack. And I can't even leave the situation. God help me the day I have to sit next to someone doing it."

If another person's gum-chewing is a trigger for you, one solution to the problem is to fight fire with fire — or rather, fight gum with gum as another commenter on the subReddit advised. They explained, "I noticed one day while chewing gum myself (silently, of course), that the sound of the other person's chewing hardly bothered me." And one other user suggested bringing noise-canceling headphones along when you travel to help shut out unwanted sounds without damaging your hearing.

Phone-addicted Phils

There are plenty of ways that someone else's inability to put down their phone could bring the vibe down on your next vacation. A study by electronics recycling site BankMyCell found that while 85% of respondents said they wanted to use their phone less on vacation, this doesn't pan out for many travelers. According to the survey, more than half of all travelers check their phones between one and five times per hour, even though their vacation phone habits can drive other tourists crazy.

But despite our cultural inability to put down our phones, most of us hate it when other people can't seem to. The study found that nine out of every 10 travelers are irritated when other airplane passengers use their phones in flight. Likewise, the site reported that more than half of vacationers find their traveling companion's phone habits aggravating, and many are turned off by the incessant selfie-ing of other travelers.

If you find yourself annoyed by another airplane passenger who can't put their phone down, your best bet is to ignore them with headphones and all of your other various anti-people tools. If your partner or traveling companion is phubbing you — that is, snubbing you for their phone — it's best to approach the issue delicately but head-on.

Culturally insensitive Carls

In the age of Google and Wikipedia, some might find it hard to understand how anyone could still be culturally insensitive — or, in some cases, altogether insulting — when they travel to another country. But it's a pretty common pitfall some travelers can get into. Common complaints include travelers' frustration with locals when they can't speak English or expressing disgust at local customs and food. Even if you're not guilty of this unsavory behavior, traveling with someone who acts this way can be embarrassing and uncomfortable.

Pleading for more intercultural respect on a Reddit travel form, a user wrote, "It's great seeing tourism in my home country but the disrespect the locals receive is frustrating and heartbreaking. It's disgusting how out of touch foreigners can be and act just because they're not from there. Being somewhere new doesn't give you a free pass to say or do whatever the hell you want." To help make sure your travel party is culturally sensitive, you could give them some suggestions to help prepare for the trip. The poster suggested picking up some books and researching the language, culture, and food ahead of time. YouTube videos can also be a fantastic resource for this — and they're easy to pass off as pre-trip hype rather than anti-rudeness insurance. "Just be mindful of where you are and respect the fact that you're in someone else's territory," the Redditor concluded.

Hotel hellion Hals

After a long day of plane-hopping or following a busy travel agenda, the last thing you need is to come back to a hotel room where a good night's sleep is impossible. Whether they're arguing, partying, engaging in amorous activities, or simply blasting the television, nobody should have to put up with neighbors who can't respect the unspoken rules of sharing thin walls. And yet, there's always going to be someone who just doesn't care.

It's a situation familiar to one Reddit user, who recounted their run-in with a rude hotel neighbor on a subReddit dedicated to petty revenge. While staying at a "dinky hotel" with "paper thin walls," the poster and their wife found themselves bombarded with sounds from next door that only got progressively worse. "It started again and then again," they wrote. "The thumping, screeching and making the lamp rattle like from a small earthquake." Their solution was to make their own noises, likely embarrassing the previously oblivious folks next door into cutting it out. In fact, it was so effective that they spent the rest of the weekend with not a sound from next door. But if you'd like a less confrontational approach — which is probably advisable — your best option is to chat with the front desk and ask for a room change. Who knows, you might even get an upgrade out of the deal.

Armrest-hogging Arthurs

Few dramas in life are as intense as the rivalry over whose arm will prevail when there are two passengers and only one armrest betwixt them. Who takes the shared armrest could almost be the subject of a serious psychological study. There's the alpha dog who has to exert power over their seat neighbor. There's the entitled passenger who just wants the armrest enough to take advantage of the situation. Then there's the oblivious individual who seems to be unaware that they're taking over at someone else's expense. On the other side of the coin are those conflict-avoidant folks who would rather keep their arms down than risk stirring up negativity on a long flight.

Armrest-hogging is such a contentious issue that it warranted a post on Reddit from a user who pleaded, "Why do you do it?" while questioning, "Is it a power thing?" Expanding on the point, the Redditor wrote, "I've been in many instances where a scrawny guy with really sharp elbows sits down in the middle seat like he's on a throne and refuses to budge." But in the words of Tennyson, ours is not to reason why. And based on the replies to that post, some people think all's fair in armrest war. If you're dead set on having some armrest time, consider politely negotiating a treaty when you first board the plane, laying out terms for sharing to see if your neighbors will agree. Or you could always hold hands.

Needy Nellies

Traveling with a companion who ditches you for their phone can be a drag, but it can be even worse to have an overly clingy traveling buddy who can't seem to lighten up and have a good time without being led around. They can't go downstairs to breakfast in the morning until you're ready to join them. When you're hoping for a chance to read quietly by the poolside or want a moment to yourself in the hot tub, the Clinger is right there by your side. These folks can make it next to impossible for you to mingle with other folks in your crew or make friends with the locals if you so choose.

Reddit travel thread asking for advice on handling a needy crew on vacation yielded some helpful advice. One user recommended trying out travel companions on short trips before committing to a long one. "I never travel with anyone more than a couple days the first time because you never really know how it will turn out for some long trip," they advised. Another suggested making sure your travel companions all have a hand in the planning phase so you can start to catch any signs of trouble before you're stuck on vacay together. And when all else fails, it can't hurt to delicately address the issue head-on by directly stating that you'd like a little time to yourself but would be glad to meet up later.

Comfort-zone Chloes

Imagine traveling halfway around the world to a country for the first time just to order hamburgers and hang out at the pool the whole time. Even if you would never dream of wasting such an opportunity, having someone in your travel party who refuses to venture out of their comfort zone can severely dampen your enjoyment of new experiences.

That's what happened to one traveler on Reddit who spent a month-long trip with a traveling companion who might as well have knitted herself inside a cocoon for the vacation. The user lamented, "She doesn't want to do anything, won't leave our hotel room, hates all the food here and will only eat pizza or burgers, and when she is uncomfortable she will make everyone around miserable." Another user empathized that they had recently shared a trip with someone who wanted to be in bed early every night and refused to meet anyone new.

The consensus seemed to be that telling a traveling companion you're looking for a different experience is acceptable. One user also suggested laying out ground rules and making a few bargains to entice them out of their comfort zone. "When you change city (travel a lot that day), you spend the night before and after the travel in the hotel room. This is a point for her then you trade to go out the other nights, offer to pay her drink one night etc.," they suggested.

Too-Tipsy Todds

While vacation imbibing can be part of the fun, going overboard is a guaranteed way to ruin a few folks' days at once. Whether it's the type of airline passenger who is bound to one day get kicked off a flight for being too wasted, or the traveling companion who sees the world as one giant pub crawl, travelers with poor control over their intake of alcohol or other substances can really screw up your vacation. In some cases, they can land themselves in legal trouble far away from their home turf, leading to problems that aren't so easy to resolve.

Taking to a rant-focused Reddit page to vent their frustrations, the owner of a now-deleted account complained, "My friends travel the world just to get drunk." Echoing this sentiment in the Unpopular Opinion Reddit page, another user wrote, "Spending an entire vacation drunk and going to restaurants sucks ... I can't tell you how many times I've gone on a vacation with friends where the majority of the trip is spent either being drunk or sitting inside a restaurant. What's the point of that?"

If you suspect someone in your party will be overindulging to the point that it could seriously impact your vacation, it might be a good idea to find another traveling companion. But if you find out while you're already traveling, try planning some activities where alcohol isn't as readily available to give everyone a break.

Influencer Izzys

If it seems like influencer culture has gotten out of control in everyday life, things are even worse in the world of travel. For many, this proliferation of icky influencer energy is killing the mood for folks who don't spend entire trips obsessing over engagement. As exemplified in the Bryce Dallas Howard-starring "Black Mirror" episode "Nosedive," there's the Instagram-obsessed influencers' habit of making everything appear more polished and perfect than it is. Not only can this mislead other travelers, but it can also lead to a pile-on effect where other influencers come to grab pretty pics without truly enjoying the experiences a destination has to offer. And then there are the folks who think they should receive special treatment or get things comped in exchange for the online visibility their content offers.

Reddit's travel forum has become a repository for horror stories of encounters with influencers. Common tales revolve around the selfie stick-toting tourists who ignorantly bump into other travelers while filming their content or nudge folks out of their way so they can get a good view for their followers. One Redditor wrote, "I didnt believe this behavior until I saw it for myself. I went to the Trevi fountain and 5 girls were having a full on photoshoot. Took up the middle of the fountain and would not move for anyone." The best approach (unfortunately) is to avoid influencer traps where possible. Instead, look for attractions off the beaten path.

VIP Valeries

Cut from the same cloth as the engagement-focused influencer are travelers who feel they deserve VIP treatment simply because they had the gall to ask for it. Influencer culture may be somewhat to blame here since there seems to be no shortage of TikTok and YouTube videos from content creators showing off how they got a free upgrade and requesting items off the "secret menu."

Most folks have heard a story or two about a friend who got kicked up to a VIP suite or moved into first-class by a friendly employee. But traveling with someone who can't stop trying to angle an upgrade can be frustrating, if not full-on embarrassing. The consensus on Tripadvisor among seasoned travelers and airline employees seems to be that free airline upgrades are beyond rare these days. Nonetheless, travel industry workers still hear just about every excuse and ploy to get them. Outlining some of the more common VIP angles, one airline employee said folks would use mileage counts, disabilities, age, health issues, events they're flying to attend, and even past upgrades to try to get one.

If someone you're traveling with can't stop asking for a complimentary upgrade, you might gently explain to them that those types of upgrades are rare these days because everything is computerized and no longer up to individuals. As the Tripadvisor commenter put it, "I just can't authorize upgrades 'because'..." adding, "Not anymore. It really is a pay-for-it or use one of the other upgrade channels."

The Honeymooners

Whether it's another couple at the pool or on the airplane or someone in your crew, few travelers are more cringe than the pair that can't stop sucking face in public. Most folks can appreciate that traveling somewhere new without the pressures of work and everyday life hanging over your head can be pretty liberating. But very few people want to watch another couple get handsy at a restaurant, on an airplane, or in a public pool — particularly when kids are around.

And for some folks, public makeout sessions can be nothing short of ragemaking, as seen in an expletive-laced Reddit post: "I'm trying to sleep in order to make the 4 hour trip in this uncomfortable a** seat more bearable I don't want to hear your sloppy a** kissing constantly in the background. You are not a 2 year old without self control." Another user added, "I hate when people come up to the counter at restaurants and grope/ kiss each other while they're deciding what to order. I just have to stand there and basically watch. It's so awkward." On Quora, someone hypothesized, "Probably they just want people to look at them and get jealous, but most people just get disgusted."

If you can't simply walk away, try to ignore them. Remember that some happy couples tend to simply get wrapped up in each other with little self-awareness of the situation. Love conquers all, even travel etiquette.