This goes without saying, but, I love traveling. It’s not something I like, it’s not something I’ll “get to next year,” and it’s certainly not something I “hope to do one day.” No, I freaking love it; and I’m traveling now, you can’t stop me. But there are just a few common travel pet peeves while traveling that really grind my gears.
Cities Without Street Signs
What is the point of this? I’m not Magellan over here, circumnavigating the globe in areas no human has ever been. No! Maps exist and these streets have names, they just aren’t labeled with signs! Maybe in extremely rural villages, (where there are about 7 streets in town anyway) it’s ok not to label your streets. I’ll ask someone where the ATM is and they can tell me easily because there’s only one in town (this has happened more than once, not joking). But if you’re a larger city, what makes you think that people can get around without street signs!? It’s hard enough for a foreigner to make out a sign written in another language, let alone when it’s non-existent! And then there’s stuff like this:
But that’s a different rant. This is about those pesky street signs that are MIA. Did people steal them? Were they just non-existant to begin with? The world may never know.
Oh, and Dear Street Signs that are Placed on the Sides of Buildings:
You’re adorable and charming and part of the culture and usually very old… and I hate you. You’re incredibly difficult to read from the sidewalk and equally annoying while driving. Especially when you’re mounted (I can only assume intentionally) behind a bush or a particularly dubious street vendor.
Paying for the Bathroom
I’ve been told that this is a very American thing to complain about, but I’m not offended by that. There is nothing more aggravating than realizing you really have to use the ol’ WC in a public area, only to find out that this little trip to the restroom is going to cost you! I’ve seen free-standing bathrooms in London that cost anywhere from 30p to a whole pound (~$1.40 – although I’ll admit that this is unusually expensive). Imagine if I ended up using a public bathroom once every 3 days for 50p a trip; that’d be $85 a year just to use the bathroom! God forbid, what if I didn’t have the money and it was an emergency? I can only imagine the horror.
I’ve considered seriously petitioning my country to change it’s greeting signs to officially read “Welcome to United States, Home of the Free Bathroom!” But something tells me it wouldn’t fly…
People Who Clap on Airplanes
I’m talking specifically about the people who clap once the airplane has successfully landed. If you’re one of these people, I beg you to reconsider. Seriously, just answer me one question: What exactly did you expect when you purchased that airplane ticket? Did you expect to cascade into a whirling tailspin and crash into the Atlantic? Did you expect the plane to be sucked into a black hole? If you bought your ticket and expected anything other than a safe landing at your destination, then I am utterly perplexed as to why you bought the ticket in the first place! You’re as bad as people that clap at a movie theatre; no one who made that movie can hear you! But that’s a rant for another day as well…
The only time you should be clapping is when you just made 100 Euro because your Wizz Air flight landed late (Yes, despite Wizz Air’s reputation as a budget airline, they offer the option of purchasing their “On-time Arrival Guarantee” for a few Euro and if they land over an hour late, you get 100 Euro in credit!)
Hostels with Only ONE Bathroom
Is this a joke? I get that this is budget accommodation. I have no problem with staying in a place where it’s so sketchy that rating it “questionable” is doing it a service. But having only one toilet and shower (combined in the same room, nonetheless) between 12+ people is the definition of a design mistake. And then you’ll make the checkout time 10AM. Ever wonder how 12+ people are going to shower, brush their teeth, use the bathroom, and pack before 10AM? Obviously not.
And what happens if your toilet clogs or the sink breaks!? I don’t even want to know.
People Who Line Up 30 Minutes Before a Flight Boards
I get it, you can’t wait to pack yourself into the metal tube that we are all going to spend the next 8 hours in. Oh wait, I don’t get it. Why are you doing this? Almost every airline (including most discount ones) now have assigned seating. You won’t get a better seat by boarding first; you won’t get an extra meal or snack, and you certainly won’t be breathing any better air inside the airplane. And if you were worried, I can also assure you that the plane will not leave without you.
Additionally, most airlines board by group or section; when you go and stand by the gate if you’re group D, it will confuse and ultimately annoy everyone in group A, B, and C who have to wedge their way past you, or wonder if they should be aimlessly waiting by the gate as well.
Hostels Where the WiFi Doesn’t Reach Your Bed
Kind of a petty complaint here, especially if there is good WiFi in a comfortable common area, but this just makes your stay so much more pleasant. When I’m in the common room, I want to socialize with everyone else, play a game, have a beer; not sit on my phone. However, the fact of the matter is that sometimes you have to look up things to do, look up directions, book flights/buses/trains, do some work, contact family and friends, or you just want to check Facebook before you go to sleep. Having WiFi in your room helps to keep the common area social and lets you take care of all your necessary online travel and personal obligations in private.
When Locals Won’t Let Me Try to Speak Their Language
For me, there’s nothing more exciting than landing in a foreign country and realizing that you have to read and communicate in a language you don’t know! Sure, it’s also usually frustrating – I’ve played my fair share of “language charades” during my travels – but there is something unequivocally rewarding about successful ordering food or getting directions from someone in a language you’re unfamiliar from. You basically just spoke a combination of what sounds to you like absolute gibberish and they KNEW WHAT YOU MEANT! (Side note – I think languages are awesome).
But since languages are so fun, here’s where I get annoyed. I try to work on my language skills in any country I’m in (although primarily Spanish), and occasionally the person will insist on speaking to me in English! Even when I’m proficiently getting my point across. I understand that sometimes they can speak English more fluently than my Spanish, so things are more efficient and quicker, but I want to learn!!
Hostels Without Lockers
Alright, I know I’m giving hostels a lot of flack, they are actually still AMAZING (I will never stay at a hotel), but just let a traveler design a hostel and it will be 100% more successful! Why wouldn’t I want a locker to place my possessions in when I’m sleeping in a room with 8 people I’ve never met before? On that note, why would I want to leave my phone charging across the room when I don’t know anyone yet? Put outlets in the lockers, next to the beds. Everyone will thank you. Trust me. Although normally, the lack of lockers is something you should research before you show up at a hostel’s door! Always* research your hostel before showing up if you can.
*I’ll be the first to admit that I love just showing up at a hostel’s door and asking if they have a bed. Not the most reliable way to travel, but definitely more adventurous for me. So by “Always,” I mean “If you’re smarter than me, you’ll always check.”
Airports Without Free WiFi (Looking at you, JFK)
Seriously, how can one of the most popular airports in the world NOT have free WiFi?
Yes, I understand that selling WiFi is a business. And I also understand that many business people will simply charge it to their company; or, those with 12 hour layovers will purchase WiFi in an vain attempt to avoid boredom by scrolling Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram in a never ending loop until their flight arrives. But the average person will connect to the deceivingly titled “FREE_Airport_Wifi” only to be dismayed to find that it’s only free for 5 minutes or that the only free page you can connect to is the airport’s home page. *sigh*. Then, this person will resolve to spend the next two hours uselessly wandering the overpriced gift shops, with no intention of purchasing anything, instead of being able to plan the next day of their trip, catch up on some work, or contact worried mothers.
The worst part? There is already a way to provide free WiFI while still making money! Just show us a 60-second ad before we can access the internet. A few airports already do it (i.e. Barcelona). I hate ads too, but hey, it’s free.
Travelers Who Think Speaking English LOUDER will Make a Local Understand
This is the opposite extension of my language pet peeves. I distinctly remember being in a coffee shop in a small town in Guatemala; the patron behind me begins repeatedly asking the owner for “butter.” She continues, “Yes, can I have some BUTTER.” There’s a confused look from the owner. “B-U-T-T-E-R,” the woman repeats. At this point I’m feeling both embarrassed to be a fellow English-speaking native and sorry for the owner, so I said “Mantequilla, por favor” and pointed to the woman asking for the butter. The owner immediately understands and thanks me. I looked at the woman and just wondered how she thought that saying the English word over and over with an increasing volume would make a Spanish-speaker understand? Can foreign-language speakers somehow now immediately understand your language if you yell it? Wow, that amazing! I wish I had known that earlier, it’d make communicating so much easier!
Obviously, it’s difficult to know every word you need in all the countries you will visit, but perhaps try to helpfully mime what you need or point to a word or phrase that is helpful on a menu. My personal favorite cheat is to download the Google Translate App and then permanently download the language library for the country you are visiting (so that you can use it without WiFi or Internet!). Anything is preferably to repeatedly yelling in your native language and becoming visually frustrated when someone doesn’t understand a language that is not spoken in their country. And heaven forbid, please, please don’t resort to talking to them in a slow, patronizing voice like you’re speaking to a baby and it’s their fault for not understanding. You will be the one that looks childish.
Do you have any Travel Pet Peeves? Leave one below in the comments!