We travel the world to explore new cultures, gain a new perspective and meet new people. However, let’s face it, we seem to meet the same people over and over again wherever our travels take us. They may have different names and hail from different places but, odds are, these classic tourist types will be there whether you’re in front of the Eiffel Tower or gazing up at the Sphinx.
From the D-List Insta-lebrity to the First-time Wanderluster, we are breaking down the 11 types of travelers you will find at every tourist hot spot. Fanny packs, selfie sticks and PDA, oh my!
Don’t say we didn’t warn you.
The Millennial Wanderer
You don’t have to meet them in person. You can meet them virtually and follow along on their travels via their blog, which will surely have a clever title like “The Bucket Listicle” or “Urban Nomaddict.” They are all about the experience and will be quick to share the hidden gems they’ve found along their journey. You may run into one in Rome at the Coliseum, but they surely spent the previous night drinking the finest local Italian reds at a hole-in-the-wall trattoria with the best homemade Bolognese you will ever taste. They booked their trip online using mostly credit card points and frequent flyer miles and are quick to share how much they saved. You can do it, too. Just follow them on Twitter for the link.
The Fanny Pack Fashionista
This tourist attraction staple is ready for anything. In the real world, they may be a fashion-savvy trendsetter, but, once the vacation clock starts running, they’ll trade their heels for sensible shoes with carefully placed Dr. Scholl’s inserts and forgo their designer purse for the ubiquitous hands-free tourist accoutrement – the fanny pack. (They’ll call it a belt bag, but we’ll know the truth.) These organized early birds will be up with the sun to get the best spread from the hotel’s continental breakfast, and they’ll have an itinerary for the day planned out before you can scrape jelly onto half a stale bagel.
The Multigenerational Jet-setters
Most often found at theme parks and beaches, this tight-knit brood likes to travel in packs. They are quick to request family photos and, before you can tell them to say cheese, they will systematically arrange themselves by height like a team of synchronized swimmers. When in quieter settings like museums or monuments, the younger members of these units may get fussy. Nothing adds to the ambiance of the Louvre like a crying child throwing a tantrum on the gallery floor. Now, we may finally know what the Mona Lisa was thinking.
The Wayfaring Fact Checker
You will find this rare breed reading the placard in front of every monument, museum and McDonald’s they come across. Did you know they stopped counting the number of burgers sold when they reached 99 billion and that the arches were incorporated into the fast food chain’s logo in 1962? This classic arm-chair traveler has read up on their destination extensively and no longer needs a guide book to spout facts and figures. Alas, despite their knowledge, they will not pass up an opportunity to read from museum signage. You may find a collective of unaware tourists slowly tacking on to the end of their group, believing themselves to be on an impromptu guided tour.
The Selfie Stick in the Mud
Many attractions like Orlando‘s Disney World, the National Gallery in London and 19 Smithsonian museums have already banned the selfie stick, which will limit the number of places you can run into this controversial and unwelcome specimen. Like smokers, they are being slowly weaned from populated areas. And for good reason. Wielding a selfie stick can be a dangerous game, especially when their primary concern is fitting their entire squad in the frame and not so much innocent passersby. If you are one of the unfortunate souls traveling with a Selfie Stick in the Mud, you will spend much of your time waiting for them to get just the right shot. If only there was an easier way to take a photo with multiple people in the picture. Maybe suggest an alternative: other people – the original selfie stick.
Some say the couple that travels together stays together, but if you run into this attached-at-the-lips twosome, you may want to keep your distance. You can find them spooning in flight, taking selfies at the Eiffel Tower or sitting on the same side of a booth sharing a single strand of spaghetti. They might think there is no such thing as too much PDA in the city of love – but from your vantage point, that’s debatable. They may approach you with a request to take their photo. And they will gladly tell you where they met, how long they’ve been together and how many kids they plan to have. It doesn’t matter that they don’t know you and that you didn’t ask.
The Tour Group Troop
There are many subsets to this tourist attraction staple. They range from high school students on a class trip who barely rolled out of bed in time to make the bus to Versailles to seniors on a cultural tour rearing to go with laminated itinerary in hand. The one thing they have in common is that they will make their presence known. The tour group will invade an attraction, pulling up in a bus, often led by a Wayfaring Fact Checker type carrying a long umbrella rain or shine. If you end up on a guided tour with one of these factions, plan accordingly. Expect longer restroom lines, a number of repetitive questions and frequent pauses to track down easily-distracted teenagers who may have a tendency to wander off.
The First-Time Wanderluster
Notice the look of wide-eyed wonder and exhilaration, the camera permanently attached to their hand, the constant snapping of photos and gasping at each sight and sound. Their passports are barely creased and they are just happy to be here. More cynical world-weary travelers should take a page from these globetrotting novices. Each can learn a lot from the other. Seeing the world for the first time can be a special experience. Draw from their enthusiasm and, in exchange, offer sage advice and tips to these bushy-tailed newbies like the guru you are. Take extra time with those whose demeanor and dress scream clueless first-timer. Think sock/sandal combo and pickpocket-beacon wallet bulge.
The Backpacking Bro
Whether in Europe or Southeast Asia, these tourist mainstays can be found drinking their way through any country that features hostels and beer. They will wax poetic on something they once read by Jack Kerouac. Have you heard of him? They will be recognizable from their smell — a mixture of sweat, bravado and Axe body spray, only made bearable by their genuine enthusiasm for meeting new people and trying new things. Whether exploring the ruins of the Acropolis in Greece or testing their palate with insects in Thailand, their enthusiasm is contagious. And if you catch it, no antibiotics needed.
The D-List Insta-lebrity
There is no shame in their selfie game. You will find these creatures methodically posing in front of landmarks, street signs, the back seat of cabs or in hotel bathroom mirrors with the same duck face or open-mouthed carefree expression regardless of whether they are in front of the Pyramids of Giza or an overseas Chipotle. They may as well set up a green screen in their living rooms and sub out different stock photos to save some money on travel expenses. If you happen upon an Insta-lebrity, it is best to awkwardly sidestep them as they continue to snap photos of themselves until they get the perfect shot (Spoiler alert: they all look the same). There’s no such thing as a #latergram for these passionate posters. They will spend 22 minutes of a 30-minute tour choosing the right filter (Kelvin?! What is this amateur hour?). Whatever you do, don’t offer to take the photo for them. They have a system and it doesn’t involve you.
The Nomadic Empty Nester
They’ll strike up conversations and offer to show you pictures of their children, even if their children are in their thirties, unmarried and still living in the apartment over their garage. And that’s the best case scenario. If they have grandchildren, politely excuse yourself to use the restroom, find the nearest exit or a pair of disguise glasses with a mustache attached and cut all ties immediately. They have the zeal of a First-Time Wanderluster and the quest for culture of a Wayfaring Fact Checker, but are just as content lounging by the pool as they are on a cultural tour. While they have high expectations for their bucket list adventure, they will most likely spend the majority of their trip relaxing, indulging in the all-you-can-eat crab leg buffet and basking in the solitude they missed out on for the previous 18 years or so. We approve!
Main image: iStock.com/urosr