Arseholes everywhere. That’s right. Everywhere you go.
The people you meet on the well-beaten paths are not all kindred spirits and wise and worldly beings. If you thought leaving home would rid your life of the clowns that grind your gears, think again.
Forget all the wonderful individuals you meet; the kind strangers, the welcoming elderly locals, the cool folk who make you jealous with their skills on just about anything they touch. Well, don’t actually forget about them.
The point is, that sooner or later, your travels will take a turn for the worse.
You may not like confrontation but when your happiness is under threat, or worse your wealth or well-being, then you may be forced to act. When you travel, ugly confrontations with people you meet can sour the experience of what should be one of the most enjoyable times of your life.
So how do you handle these challenging people when the storm starts brewing?
Here are the eight worst types of people you meet when you travel.
They will push your buttons and rile you up at least once, which is usually their way of introducing their true self. Be prepared and you can stop their shenanigans before it gets out of hand.
The Drunken Idiot
If you’ve worked in hospitality you will know that sometimes it’s difficult to remain hospitable. The old adage that the customer is always right is actually a big steaming pile of tortoise turd. Sometimes the customer is an arrogant, unreasonable prick. Nowhere is this more true than if you work behind a bar.
Sadly, you don’t even have to subject yourself to such slavery to encounter someone like this, nor do you have to travel. Drunken idiots are everywhere. If you travel, you’ll just happen to encounter a lot more of them on a regular basis, from all corners of the globe.
How to handle a drunken idiot depends on how well you know them. If they’re not invading your personal space or possessions, then throwing a pair of headphones on and letting them do their thing may be the best way to go. If they’re in your face, it’s better to take yourself away from the situation before it escalates. Chances are they’ll lose interest pretty quick when you walk away from their stage.
The Party Animal
Often the friend of the drunken idiot, or even a happy-go-lucky alter-ego of the same guy. They may be a tour guide or promo ticket seller and they’ll be convinced their toilet bowl always smells of roses. Sooner or later, this whirlwind will intrude on your peace with their loud, obnoxious ways.
Fluctuating between drunk and hungover at all times, they see no problem with banging into the dorm at 4am and waking everyone up with music and laughter, wondering why everyone is in bed. Often they’ll be found enjoying late afternoon power naps in a dorm room polluted with the smell of stale drink and broken glow sticks.
How to handle a party animal comes down to your own willingness to party. You could adopt a ‘if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em approach’, which will torpedo your finances and, by association, make you one of the most disliked people in the hostel.
Alternatively, you could make a polite request before they embark on their next bender, asking them to consider the sleeping people on their return. If they give you shizzle, then hosting movie time with your Bluetooth speakers in the dorm during their next siesta is perfectly acceptable!
The Grumpy Host
Maybe he was born that way or else she had a bad morning full of tough customers before you, but having a run-in with a grumpy staff owner is never pleasant. It can often spoil your experience of an otherwise fun hostel.
How to handle a grumpy host at your accommodation is a delicate issue. Best to empathize and put yourself in their shoes, rather than to fight fire with fire. You don’t want to be out on the street! Then again, you might choose to walk if you feel you’re being screwed over. Aim for a happy compromise, helping your stressed host see the value in working things out and ensuring you feel safe and content to spend the night in their accommodation.
Some people you meet are budget travellers, frugal but fun. Then there are some people who are just tightfisted, miserable, penny-pinching cheapskates. The only thing worse than those are those who won’t spend their own money, but have no qualms about spending yours.
If someone like this targets you, they can manipulate you into getting the cab fare or getting the next round once again because they conveniently forgot to stop at an ATM. They do it effortlessly and before you realize it, they owe you that annoying amount of money that is somewhere between too little to worry about and yet not quite enough to make a big deal of. But it is a big deal! It’s playing on your mind and you could do with having that money back!
How to handle a sponger on your travels is difficult if they are someone in your regular group. It’s easier to dump a stranger. In either case, be resolute. Simply draw a line and don’t budge. Once their tab hits a certain figure that becomes valuable to you, say $10, make a point of it the next time they come back from the bar with shots when they know you’re paying.
“Thanks for the shot Joe. You owe me $10 now so that’ll be your last one!”
This guy will believe he is god’s gift to women and can often be heard bragging of his conquests. He thinks little of bringing a girl back to his shared dorm. He cares not about the people around him sleeping or performing loud and obviously forced throat clearances. One time in a dorm in Wellington, one such guy got rejected by his beau of the night when she saw how many people were “sleeping” in the shadows around them. She left him hanging, but not before branding him “too bohemian” for her, thus sending the pretend sleepers into fits of stifled laughter.
How to handle a person who thinks it’s okay to fornicate right beside you as you sleep depends on your mood at the time and the size difference between you and Casanova (bicep size). In any case, I imagine you will have the full support of the dorm if you jump up and turn the lights on, shouting “shame! shame! shame!”
The Drama Queen
There’s always one. Everywhere you go. They may be one of the more annoying people you meet. Ever. After a while you may go out of your way to avoid social situations with them.
I’m not saying they are exclusively female, but there is a pretty solid chance that the drama queen you meet will be a woman.
In any case, you can be sure this spotlight-stealing diva is sure to ruffle just about everyone’s feathers with their wonderful ability to sink an anchor through almost any social event or fun party.
How to handle a drama queen gets easier as you get older as you care less about what people think of you and whether they like you. A drama queen usually wants attention. In the heat of the moment, allow actions to speak louder than words by simply walking away and ignoring them. If their drama gets physical, they’d be committing social suicide. They know this, so you can starve them of attention until they’ve calmed down.
This nefarious character is a sponger with a much darker side. They would do well in Game of Thrones with their shady masks and manipulation magic. Often vouched for by a mutual friend, they get their feet under the table before their true colors shine. While often a fun member of the group, the user is simply a selfish person at heart and will always be out for #1 before anything else.
You might find yourself sharing a house with them or discover they have wiggled their way to high standing in your circle before everyone realizes they’ve been talking smack about you all behind your backs, playing people off against each other for their own interests.
How to handle the user can be one of the most difficult people you meet on your travels. This person may have become a friend and you suddenly reach a point where you realize you need to cut them out of your life. You need to bring irrefutable evidence of their skulduggery to the table and have witnesses to help you oust this poisonous leech from your group.
Ok, so it’s not their fault and it doesn’t make them a bad person at all. Unlike all the people above. However, if you’re a light sleeper, sharing a room with a snorer can grind you down. One night is fine but if you find yourself doing a long-term stay in hostel, the last thing you want is a dorm mate who spends every night imitating a deaf bear with a stutter.
How to handle a snorer is pretty easy. I shared a room at home with my younger brother for years. When we traveled together, we often got twin rooms. Hell, we spent four months together in a tent and survived. Here’s what you do…
Pick up your pillow and smash the snorer in the face, really fugging hard. Then immediately drop down on the pillow and pretend you are asleep. The snorer will grunt and look around bleary-eyed and completely bewildered as to why they are suddenly awake.
Chalking it up to a hypnic jerk, (the jerk being you!) they’ll roll over and doze off again. Sure, it only buys you a small window before their growling starts up again but often that’s all you need to beat them to Dreamtown. I’ve used this technique around the world with varying degrees of success. It’s a little tougher in dorm rooms with bunks but under cover of darkness it is still possible!
What has been the most challenging personal encounter you experienced on the road? How do you handle the worst types of people you meet on your travels?