I'd like to think that I have an iron stomach when it comes to dealing with international idiosyncrasies, but when you're in a foreign environment, everything seems to be just a little bit more frustrating. I have pet peeves at home, but they're much easier to tune out when I'm in a familiar environment.
Here are some of the things that drive me crazy while traveling:
1. When people refuse to speak to me in French.
I know that my French isn't perfect, but I've been studying it for years, and I came to France because I want to PRACTICE. I know that traveling halfway across the globe is expensive, and you want to practice your English, and you don't know when you'll get the opportunity to do so, but please stop. California is filled with people who speak English as a second language, but I would never start speaking to them in Spanish unless they asked me to.
2. People who stop suddenly in the middle of the sidewalk.
3. Cheap baggage that breaks in the middle of a trip.
4. People who complain to me about Americans.
Why do people think I want to listen to their stories about loud, obnoxious Americans who travel to other countries and ruin everything? The ironic thing is that 90% of people who complain to me about Americans have never actually...been to America. But they really, really want to go. Please stop talking.
Hey, I'm allowed to complain about my own country! I love America, but one thing that annoys me is that anytime you're near an American, you'll know it, because most of them are quite loud. Love you guys.
6. The American economy.
After visiting Switzerland, I'm officially broke.
7. People who snore in hostels.
My best friend and I stayed in a hostel, and one of our roommates was apparently a sea lion. I started throwing bobby pins at her bed in the in hope that she would wake up...no luck.
8. People who return to hostels in the middle of the night.
One of my favorite stories from Paris begins with a 20-something man who returned to our dorm in the middle of the night, proceeded to rearrange his luggage, then shined his tacky little headlight in my face. After sighing a few times to indicate I was awake (which didn't seem to register with him), I climbed down the bunk and grabbed my computer, at which point he tried to start a conversation. This happened at 3 in the morning. I don't think he was drunk. He lives in Los Angeles, and he has a beard. If you see him, please punch him in the face.
9. ISIS and Ebola
If something alters my travel plans multiple times, it gets added to the list.
10. Lack of privacy.
11. Spit. EVERYWHERE. in Paris.
Why can't people spit in bushes, and keep the sidewalks clean? Nasty!
12. People who cough without covering their mouths.
I don't know if this is a European thing, but it's disgusting. I'm tired of walking down the sidewalk and having people openly hacking into my breathing space.
13. The lack of alone time.
I love meeting new people, but I'm an antisocial creature who needs a few hours alone every day.
14. The word "touristic."
This is one of those words that people translate into English and it sounds right, but it's not actually part of the English lexicon. I've never heard a native English speaker use it in conversation. The word is touristy!!
15. Feeling the need to constantly be moving, getting up early, taking advantage of every waking hour.
I know that I'm really lucky to travel, but sometimes it's exhausting. I hate reading travel blogs where the authors claim to rise every morning at dawn, head out into the countryside and return after dark. They make me feel like a failure, and I don't always believe them. Sometimes I want to stay home, watch Netflix, and drink Starbucks.
16. People who make you feel like an outsider because you don't speak their native tongue.
Most of the time, these people are well-intentioned, but when I first came to France I had a friend who would turn to me and translate everything into English, even though he knew I spoke French.
17. People who judge you for eating cheap food.
I've mentioned in past posts that I tend to spend less money on food in favor of visiting more cultural sites, but I've always been a little bit self-conscious about my eating habits. I don't have the best diet, and I don't think people should judge me for that.
18. Creepy dudes who follow you.
If someone starts a conversation with me and they seem friendly, I'll usually respond in a nice way. It's fun to meet strangers, but sometimes it's difficult to pick up on the cultural nuances which indicate that a man is actually very creepy.
19. People who give lazy or bad directions.
If you ask someone for directions in France, more often than not, they'll respond "Just go straight." This situation applies even when straight is not an option.
20. Passive-aggressive travel companions.
UGH, this is the worst. A few years ago, I visited Prague with three classmates. One of them was the whiniest, most self-involved person I have ever met. She was Jewish by heritage, but did not actually practice the religion. She made it very clear that we were to spend the entirety of our time visiting every Jewish heritage site in Prague, because she "felt she owed it to the abused heritage of her people, and it would be disrespectful not to." The Jewish museums were AMAZING, but it would have been nice to engage in discussion about what other people might want to do. Naturally we couldn't disagree with her without sounding like insensitive pricks, and it meant we didn't get to do anything outside of the Jewish museums.
21. Controlling travel companions.
Yep, this was on the same trip. Different person.
22. People who invade your personal space.
Especially if there's a language barrier.
23. Leaving expensive things behind in hotels.
24. Groups of people who take up the whole sidewalk.
You see them everywhere - mothers and fathers holding hands with their children, fanned out across the entire sidewalk. This usually happens when you're late to catch a train. They're like synchronized swimmers.
25. Overly-concerned foreigners.
Please stop telling me what I'm capable of.
26. Decreased work ethic/inability to work.
Writing is hard without a consistent desk :(
27. Disrespectful landlords.
I rented a room in Paris, and everything started out very nicely. After a week, however, my landlord started doing all these home repair projects that were incredibly loud (hammering, sawing, pounding). It was a small apartment and the noise was excruciating. He never warned me that he would be doing these projects; he would just start doing them when I was trying to work. It's a lot harder to be diplomatic about home-related frustrations in a foreign language.
Listening to other people's children screaming while I'm on a trip is probably the most effective form of birth control.
Ahh, Linus. A pet peeve that occurs so frequently that it gets its own name. You know when you're trying to take a picture of a cathedral, and you've been standing in the same spot for ten minutes waiting for a tour group to clear out, and everything is perfect and there's no one in sight... and then ONE PERSON wanders in front of your camera and ruins the shot?
Linus can be male or female, and Linus WILL follow you around the world. Sometimes Linus doesn't even bother wearing a shirt. In the worst case scenario, you won't even realize that he was there until you get home and you're showing your friends pictures of Rome, and there's Linus, happily picking his nose and eating it.
What are some of your biggest pet peeves while traveling?