We generally encounter the most wonderful people, but we can count on running into real jerks while traveling, too. Perhaps you can relate.
Running into real jerks while traveling can easily change a pleasant experience into a disaster. We’ve all been there. Usually, we meet the most wonderful people when we travel in encounters that we’ll long remember, but then the Universe will provide a boor or an oaf of such superlative proportions that we’re stupefied. These are people we wish we hadn’t met but also fervently try not to be.
We reached out to fellow bloggers for stories of jerks who took jerkiness to entirely different level. We were glad to learn we aren’t the only ones running into real jerks while traveling. Behold these cringe-worthy stories:
A Bogan in Bali from Gordon and Paula at Contented Traveller
Many Australians do not have the best reputation in Bali, and mostly this has been leveled at young people. These are the people who go for the cheap drinks, cheap tats, and cheap parties. I sort of get it. In defense of young Aussies in Bali, they were noticeably some of the politest people we saw when interacting with the Balinese people. But then, I didn’t see them at 4am either.
The person we met in Bali was the epitome of everything that we rail against as travellers. He was an older Australian man, with the type of characteristics Australians refer to as “bogan.” A bogan is an unsophisticated and obnoxious dickhead, whose only reason for going to Bali was that it is close to Australia, it is cheap, and it is foreign.
The Balinese people are a soft, kind and deeply spiritual people. They rely on the tourist dollar, and because of the proximity of Australia to Bali, there are an enormous amount of Aussies on the island. I feel sorry for the Balinese that they are in this situation. There are many, many wonderful Australians who visit the island and appreciate what it has to offer, but then you get the minority like the man we met in Legian. (Related: Has Ubud Bali changed since That Book and That Movie?)
Legian is between Kuta and Seminyak, and is the hot spot for some cashed up Aussie’s and many of them are in the bogan category, judging by them hanging off bar stools drinking Bintang beers. It is the place that makes us cringe to be Australian, and we were only in that area because we were working with a hotel.
The person that we met had won the lottery or so he told us within a minute of meeting him and his wife. We chatted and learnt that he had been the mayor of the town he was from in Australia. They asked us to join them for dinner, and I guess curiosity got the better of us, and we accepted.
They took us to their favorite restaurant; an Australian dump selling chips and steak. He told us he didn’t touch any foreign crap. He then proceeded to wow us with all of the countries he had been to in the last year since their fortune befell them. I was gobsmacked by the number of countries they had visited. Math’s has never been my strong suit, but 86 countries in 365 days seemed to be making quick work of it.
His wife, who in all fairness was quite pleasant, told me a story of when they went to the Acropolis is Greece. He sprained his ankle on the way up, but made her go to the top and take 300 photos from every angle, and she had 20 minutes to do this. He was a bully.
He told us that they come to Bali every year and that they had started a Balinese restaurant in their hometown in Australia. I was confused since he wouldn’t eat this foreign crap. He then explained that cooking Balinese was easy. Boil up rice, throw on some soy sauce, freeze it and then when the customers came, fry an egg, and put it on the thawed rice, and this was nasi goreng.
We asked him about the different things he admired about the Balinese culture and the people. He said he didn’t know much despite coming here for 20 years, but that furniture was cheap. What he did seem to know was how to rip them off, having started an import/export business as well as being the mayor, as well as running the Balinese café, as well as traveling to every country in the world. It was then that he snapped his fingers at the Balinese waiter, and yelled out “Boy”.
Paula and Gordon from Contented Traveller will never understand why someone one would go somewhere and profess no interest in the people, the culture, or the food, yet do all they could to exploit the situation.
“This is where I get off!” from Danie at Like Riding a Bicycle
I’d been hitchhiking for days (weeks, years it seemed, and as it was) and was in the home stretch, on my way to hit up a concert of one of my favourite singers, who had graciously put me on the guest list of his sold out show. I stood at the on-ramp to the highway where the cars were driving slow enough to collect me, and stuck my thumb out, a big smile encompassing my face.
After quite some time, a ride pulled over. I asked if he was heading my direction, and hopped in when he said he was. Within the first five seconds of driving, he looked at me: “So what do I get for this ride?” He oh-so-casually asked. I replied with a hint of a joke and a hint of disgust in my attempt to evaluate if he was serious, “Good karma!” His reply, however, was to repeat his question. “No, I’m not giving you a free ride. What do I get?” I immediately told him to drop me off at the next turn off for the motorway.
Being a person of limited morals, he thought that driving for two more minutes to drop me in a place I wouldn’t get killed was a bit too much for him to do considering he was not going to be receiving sexual favours, and instead dropped me on the side of the motorway, cars ripping past me at a terrifying pace.
Well this bloody well sucks, I thought to myself. Hope this isn’t how I die.
I walked back to the on-ramp from which he’d collected me, in disbelief that I’d been hitchhiking for so long, in so many countries, and never had someone quite that sour encounter me previous to this. Within minutes, however, my next lift came along. Not only could we not stop chatting away, but he made himself late for work to drive out of his way to get me where I was going. Now this is the type of person I normally encounter. Immediately upon entering this second car I felt happy and contended; yes, there will always be some sour people out there. Fortunately, the majority rock.
Danie is a nomad who has been on the road for three years straight, finding new homes as she hitchhikes along. She once hitched 6,000 kilometres in six days.You can check out her blog (where she delights in oversharing) at Like Riding a Bicycle.
Little Emperors at the Airport from Vanessa at The Island Drum
I had been on a travel research assignment and had spent about two weeks traveling through one particular Southeast Asia area. The terrain I covered was diverse and the locals I met along the way had all been quite friendly and helpful. Having successfully wrapped up my research, I headed to the nearest airport to make my way home.
As I was preparing to go through the small airport security screening, a male employee went to grab my small backpack before I even had time to take my laptop out. I too quickly said, “Please don’t touch my things.” Realizing how my words might be misinterpreted, I also quickly added, that there were fragile electronics in the bag and to let me take them out first. The man said nothing and turned away.
As I went through the screening, a second employee (a female) stopped the screening and wanted to check various items in my purse. I could sense a ‘problem’ and asked if it would be better to move to a separate table out of the way, but she (in a not so friendly tone of voice) said, “Do you want to get on that flight?”. The intimidating undertone was not lost in translation. She spent a couple of minutes asking me to take this or that out for closer inspection and then wrote my passport number down. Meanwhile other passengers patiently waited to have their own carry-on items screened.
As I was trying to reorganize my things, a third employee (another female) casually moved my camera case to a table and the case (with the camera inside) immediately toppled off the table onto the floor. I gasped and said, “Please be careful that’s an expensive camera!” I proceeded to the waiting area and checked my camera… Low and behold the protective filter of the lens was smashed against the lens. I immediately took it to show the security people and told them, “This is why I wanted you to be careful.” The first two went silent and the girl who actually moved the camera immediately said, “I didn’t do it.” I told her, “Yes, you actually did but you will all three get credit for it.”
See how it all ended here. Vanessa Workman is a hospital worker turned travel writer who chronicles her travel experiences and curates information about her home base of Langkawi, Malaysia at The Island Drum.
Too touchy-feely in Tunisia from Shara at SKJ Travel
Across the street from the ancient Roman colosseum in El Djem, Tunisia, my husband and I ran across an antique shop absolutely stuffed with just about everything you could think of. The store was so vast, my husband and I split up and each perused different sections of the store with greedy eyes. I imagined we could spend at least an hour there and end up with a trunk full of trinkets.
Until the proprietor started shadowing me. It bothered me already that he had not properly tucked his shirt into his pants. On another person, it might not have merited my attention, but something about this man was palpably creepy. He kept moving closer to me until he was breathing down my neck. Literally. I was having an ever-harder time concentrating on the piles of cool stuff in front of me.
Then he casually wrapped his arm around my shoulders, as if this was standard protocol with his customers, and pulled me close to him. I didn’t push him away because I was too shocked and confused to react.
But it got worse. He planted a repulsive, slobbery kiss on my cheek. And then told me to kiss him back! I was just so incredulous that this was happening with my husband in the next room that even then I was slow to react.
Until he grabbed my boob and started rubbing it. I nearly fainted I felt so dizzy from the blood pounding in my head. Finally I regained my wits and pushed him away and went to find my husband. Though he was confused, disappointed and annoyed when I told him without explanation that we needed to leave the place immediately, he complied. Maybe that creep’s shop was so full because no one could stay there long enough to buy much!
Shara Johnson explores the world from her home base in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado and enjoys sharing some of her experiences on her narrative travel blog, SKJ Travel. You can read more of this distasteful tale here.
A Stalker on Caye Caulker from Helen at The Lite Backpacker
Caye Caulker is a little slice of paradise that even the backpacker can afford. With glee I took off my shoes as I disembarked from the ferry and realised the roads on this small island were all made of sand.
For a paradise location there is a lot more to do on Caye Caulker other than topping up your sun tan, drinking rum cocktails and munching on freshly caught lobster. One of the many great activities is a snorkelling tour on a sail boat – sailing and swimming –what more can you want?
Well as it turned out I got a little bt more than I bargained for… in the shape of an unwanted suitor.
Let’s call him “The Tour Guide” – I met him on my sailing snorkelling experience. From the beginning of the tour he would single me out to help with safety demonstrations and ice break activities. When we were snorkelling he would constantly pull me in the direction of turtles and “Dory” fish. I ended up seeing a lot more than the rest of the tour group.
However, by the end of the tour I was a little exhausted from the attention and from maintaining the nice… but not too friendly line.
I wasn’t that surprised when he turned up at the bar I was in later that nigh – it is a very small island after all. He immediately sat down at my table and started introducing me to all of his friends and family… who I would later think of as his CIA agents. Finally, I escaped and headed to bed ALONE.
The next morning I headed to the beach to top up my tan. No sooner had I laid down on my towel when he appeared hovering over me offering to rub in my sun cream… I declined but he sat down for a chat.
And so commenced three days of hide and seek. Problem was everyone on the island knew he liked me and would let him know where I was. He would turn up as I sipped my morning coffee, I went kayaking and so did he, I went out for dinner with a friend – who was at the table next to me?
He was always friendly (if a little too flirty), and never crossed the line I kept firmly in place, but after four days I was exhausted and ready to leave paradise.
You’ll find Helen at The Lite Backpacker travel blog, which is about finding healthy ways to travel on a backpackers budget.
Running into real jerks can’t help but affect what might have been a wonderful travel experience. Our advice? Once the situation goes south, leave it to its own devices. Make your exit, cut your losses, head for the hils. Chances are you’ll never see that jerk again, but be on the lookout for others like them just in case.
Got a travel jerk story? Share in the comments!