To anyone that knows me personally, it won’t come as a surprise that I’m going to write a long-winded, judgemental article about my peers. To those that don’t know me in real life, it might seem odd that I, as a backpacker, am writing an entire article about all of the annoying things backpackers do.
However, when you spend as much time with backpackers as I do (over three years and counting) and you also happen to be a massive bitch (hi, I’m Dani, nice to meet you), an article like this comes naturally. Please bear in mind before you read this that I’ve been guilty of almost every single one of these myself. As I say in almost every single blog post, I’m a basic ass dumb bitch and am 100% an annoying backpacker too. That said, I’m also a judgy bitch and I like to moan about things, hence, you’re getting this article. I guess what I’m trying to say is don’t take this too seriously or personally. We all have our pet peeves, I just have more than most 😉
So, as the kids on YouTube like to say, let’s just jump on into it!
Here are the 10 most annoying things backpackers do!
1. Count Countries
It makes sense that something I’ve already written an entire rant about would appear on this list – after all, it clearly irritated me somewhat, or I wouldn’t have written the article in the first place. Now, let me preface this point by saying that when I refer to ‘counting countries,’ I don’t mean that you occassionally sit down and tally up the number of places you’ve visited. That’s perfectly normal (and not annoying). I’m talking about the type of backpacker who speeds from place to place, spending a night or two in each country just to tick them off a list and consider them ‘done’ (more about that later).
You should travel for the love of travel, not because you’re racing to visit ’30 before 30′ or some other bullshit goal that is more about bragging rights than raw experience. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve heard people say that they’re only bothering to visit a certain country (cough, Kosovo), because they ‘may as well’ while they’re in the area as ‘it counts as another country, I guess.’
Not only is this a disgusting way of flaunting your privilege (some people can only dream of travel, and here’s you going somewhere you don’t even want to go, just to tick it off a list), but it’s also very insulting to whichever country you’re talking about. Visit a place because you’re interested in the food, the people, the culture and the nature. Visit a place because you want to learn something, to experience something. Don’t visit it for the sake of it being another number on your list.
(For the record, I’ve been travelling almost full time for over 3 years and have visited less than 30 countries, shoot me.)
2. Having ridiculously high expectations of hostels
Having worked at various hostels, I’ve been privy to some of the most ridiculous complaints ever. For example, I worked in a hostel on the beach in Cambodia. Accommodation was 4/6 USD per night, depending on time of year, and every night guests were allowed two free beers (which we usually sold for 1 USD each). We had complaints about everything from noise (it was a party hostel with a midnight music curfew…) to sand in the beds. Now, I hate to break it to you, dear guests, but if you stay in a hostel ON THE BEACH and get into bed without rinsing your feet, THERE IS GOING TO BE SAND ON THE SHEETS.
At the end of the day, if you’re sharing a dorm room with 10 people and paying basically nothing, it stands to reason that sometimes you might not get a good night’s sleep. Maybe the kitchen isn’t as nice as the one you have back home, or maybe someone left skid marks in the toilet and you came across it before the cleaner did. I’ve certainly stayed in my fair share of less than ideal hostels, but eh, when you’re paying a few bucks a night and you’ve got a hot shower, free coffee and a bed to sleep in, is it really worth kicking up a fuss about? If you want better, pay for better.
(Note: I do know that there are some genuinely really bad hostels out there that deserve the bad reviews. However, I’m talking about people that expect Grade A facilities when they’re not willing to pay Grade A prices.)
3. Not making any effort to speak the language
Obviously, you can’t be expected to learn entire languages in every country that you go to, but I really think that every traveller should at least learn how to say ‘Hello/Good day,’ and ‘thank you,’ in the language of the country that they’re visiting. It’s really not difficult to learn a couple of words, and people will really appreciate the effort.
I can’t tell you how annoying it was after being in Poland for so many months, to hear my fellow travellers (people who had also spent a while in Poland) refusing to say ‘dziekuje’ (thank you) because ‘everybody knows what I mean.’ Yes, they might, but that’s no reason to not make any effort to communicate in their language, even if it’s just a word or two.
4. Haggling over ridiculously small amounts of money
This really applies at market stalls when you’re trying to bargain for souvenirs and whatnot. Now, of course, in some places, bargaining is part of the culture, and if you think that you’re being ripped off then by all means try to haggle to get a fairer price. However, when you find yourself arguing for 10 minutes over the equivalent of 20 cents, you have to stop and ask yourself – is it really worth it? If you really want to buy whatever you’re haggling over, then just pay the extra 20 cents. It won’t make a difference to you in the long run, and believe it or not, people are not always trying to rip you off. How would you feel if you left knowing that you’d pressured somebody to go out of pocket just so that you could feel as though you got a better deal?
5. Not befriending any locals
Okay, so this one isn’t black and white. Sometimes you just don’t have any opportunity to hang out with local people, and that’s fine. But all too often I meet backpackers that only ever want to associate with other backpackers, and more often than not, they stick with travellers from their home countries or countries very similar to their home countries!
Case in point: Australians and Brits. Australians and Brits naturally gravitate towards one another, and it’s easy to see why. We speak the same language, we’re big drinkers and we’re very sociable by nature. Don’t get me wrong, I love British people and I love Australians. However, I also love those nights where I’ve been lucky enough to spend time with people who actually originate from the country that I’m spending time in.
Some of my fondest memories of Cambodia aren’t partying with other backpackers – they were sitting on plastic chairs behind the kebab stand, eating fish and drinking beer with the local boys that worked in my hostel and their friends. The reason I love Poland so much isn’t because of all the crazy nights I’ve had at party hostels (although I won’t lie, I do have a very soft spot for one particular party hostel in Poland), but because I’ve been lucky enough to befriend at least a couple of hundred (if not more!) Polish people who have welcomed me into their country with open arms and invited me into their homes and lives.
Again, I understand that it’s not always possible to meet local people when you travel (outside of interacting with them whilst they’re working in a bar or café or whatever). That said, I do strongly believe that if you just try a little harder, you’d be surprised at the people you meet and the experiences you have. Next time you’re in a foreign country, try to strike up conversation with somebody at a bus stop or in a bar. You never know – they might become your new best friend!
6. Loudly proclaiming how cheap somewhere is
Okay, look. If I’m only in the company of other English people, or other relatively well off travellers (let’s be honest, if you can afford to backpack then you’re not doing too badly) then I will openly say that X country is cheap. Because some countries are incredibly cheap…for us. Take Kotor, Montenegro. Is it cheaper than my hometown of Manchester? Yes, it is. However, is it cheap for the local people who live and work here? No, it’s incredibly expensive. The average salary here is about a third of the average salary in the UK, but the prices are only around 20% cheaper. It is in bad taste then, for me to run around losing my mind over how ‘cheap’ everything is, when local people are struggling to get by on prices that have been elevated by tourists like me.
For every tourist that comes from Dubrovnik to Kotor and exclaims how cheap Kotor is in comparison, there is a business owner eavesdropping and rubbing his hands together, ready to increase the prices on his menu. I don’t blame them of course. This is the nature of the beast. However, bear in mind that while prices of things here are quickly increasing, wages for workers are not, and so your innocent squeals of joy about how dirt cheap a place is might actually be harming local people.
7. Disrespecting the country you’re in
This one might sound obvious but apparently it isn’t, so I’ll spell it out for you: if you’re grown up enough to go backpacking, you’re grown up enough not to be a complete and utter moron while doing so. It boggles my mind to see people posing naked at sacred temples, throwing up drunkenly on the street before it’s even dark and making a mockery of travel by just being flat out disrespectful to the country that they’re in. Remember when Logan Paul went to Japan, dressed up as Pikachu, threw pokeballs (is that what they’re called?) at people, before FILMING A SUICIDE VICTIM in Aokigahara Forest? Yeah, nah.
It breaks my heart when I go to Krakow and see people from my own country throwing restaurant chairs around, getting their genitals out and having competitions to see who can be the fastest to throw up from alcohol. These people don’t behave like this in their own countries, but when they are in someone else’s, they see no reason not to act like animals (actually, animals behave better than this kind of tourist). I wrote about this in a lot more detail here, but I think I’ve made my point.
8. Refusing to spend any money, at all, ever
There is nothing wrong with travelling on a budget. This blog is geared towards budget travellers, and I make a point of only recommending hostels and restaurants that are suited to people who perhaps aren’t able to spend huge amounts of money when they travel.
The length to which some people will go to penny pinch is beyond me, and I find it infuriating at times. Just a few weeks ago, a guy checked into my hostel. As is standard practice, we told him that if he wanted, he could have our hostel family dinner for 4 euros (around 3 times cheaper than the price of a full meal anywhere else in Kotor). His response? ‘No, I don’t pay for things.’
The arrogance! The entitlement!
Some months ago, I saw a guy on my Facebook feed bitching about how he’d been waiting for two whole hours for someone to pick him up as he attempted to hitchhike. He talked about how Polish people are all hypocrites because they are super Catholic but won’t do ‘something nice’ for someone. When I pointed out that public transport is incredibly affordable, or that he could use a rideshare app to contribute some fuel costs for somebody (such apps are very popular in Poland), he balked.
I’ve also seen travellers here in Kotor smuggling alcohol into nice bars to avoid paying the higher prices of said bars. Again, if you don’t want to pay 3 euros for a drink, that’s totally fine, but you don’t get to just bring your own alcohol with you and enjoy the music, warmth and atmosphere that the other customers are paying for. That isn’t how bars work. If you want to swig from a 2 litre plastic bottle of beer, you can do it somewhere else.
Now, I’ve nothing against hitchhiking, or cooking your own food. I just think that if you’re going to use Couchsurfing or hitchhike, then it shouldn’t just be about a free bed or a free ride. You should use them as a fun and interesting way to meet local people, with the money saving element being an added bonus.
As travellers, we should at least try to contribute to the economies of the countries that we are visiting, rather than just take take take. If you can’t afford to do that, whether it’s by paying for a metro ticket or spending 6 bucks a night at a family-run hostel, then you can’t afford to travel, in my opinion.
9. Being ‘done’ with a country because you saw the capital city
I’ll be honest here. Nice Dani knows that it’s just a figure of speech to use the word ‘done’ when talking about having visited a country. I get that most of the people who say this know that they haven’t ‘done,’ ‘completed’ or somehow ‘conquered’ a country.
(Sidenote: my favourite articles are the ones where I have the word ‘HOWEVER’ written in capital multiple times. It’s the sign that I’m feeling ranty and argumentative, and rant and argumentative Dani is the best Dani, at least for writing purposes).
Bitchy Dani doesn’t understand that, and has to work really hard not to roll her eyes when a backpacker says that they spent a day in Tirana, a day in Skopje and a day in Sofia and that they have now ‘done’ Albania, Macedonia and Bulgaria.
First of all, no you haven’t. You went to a hostel, you got drunk and you did a free walking tour. This does not equate to having spent a considerable amount of time in a country, befriending the local people, exploring the lesser known places and soaking up the local culture.
Second of all, what is this? Is this some kind of travel video game, whereby you spend a night in a country and suddenly you’re ‘done’ and can move onto the next level of the game? It is no coincidence that most people who use the term ‘done’ in this way are also those obnoxious country counters that I mentioned way up at point numero uno.
10. Being loud and inconsiderate in dorm rooms
Turning the light on and having a loud conversation with your friends at 8am? Going to shower at 8.15 and leaving the door wide open? Rustling around with a million plastic bags at 6.30am because you were too lazy to pack the night before? Does this sound like you? Well if it does, congratulations because everybody hates you, especially me.
Almost every other thing on this list is a mild annoyance. If someone is busy counting how many countries they’ve ‘done’ while haggling over 5 cents and being a drunk idiot, I’ll shrug, think to myself ‘eh, ur basic,’ and then probably continue to be the person’s friend afterwards, no biggie.
HOWEVER (here I go again).
IF YOU ARE A LIGHT SWITCHING BAG RUSTLING DOOR OPENING OUTDOOR VOICE PERSON THEN I WILL 100% HATE U AND NOT FORGIVE YOU UNLESS IT IS A VERY VERY SPECIAL SITUATION.
So, there concludes my list of 10 annoying things that backpackers do! I’m sure I’ve lost a fair few Facebook friends with this post, but I guess that’s the price I have to pay for being a judgy bitch. Do you agree with my points? Maybe you have some pet peeves of your own? Let me know your thoughts in the comments section!
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Im not a backpacker but my sister has travelled and shared some stories with me about her experiences some very similar pet peves . To conclude this was a very interesting read and has made me think about travelling in the near future thanks for sharing your experiences and i wish u well on your future ones .
Travelling Jezebel says
Haha I’m sure me and your sister would get along well then! Thanks a lot 🙂 glad you’re thinking about going travelling!