Bad Tourist: Five Thoughtless Things I Saw On Vacation

When I travel, I am a student of human behavior, which is to say I mutter complaints about the things people do that I don’t like. Line cutting is a big one. I hate that.

I recently spent a week on vacation, including a few days (not enough) at Yosemite National Park, where someone apparently behaved so badly that it set something of a record. I didn’t witness it, though. We were off in the park when fellows guests at the Wawona Hotel set off a canister of bear repellent in their room, shutting down the hotel for several hours. These guests, we were told, abandoned most of their gassed belongings and took off.

This gave me the idea of cataloguing the rude things that travelers do in a new feature I shall call Bad Tourist. So here goes the first installment of the five most obnoxious things I actually saw people doing on that trip:

5. Parents watching and photographing a little girl who was hand-feeding potato chips to a squirrel in Yosemite National Park practically underneath a sign asking people not to feed the animals.

4. A woman spritzing herself — and the rest of us — with a spray bottle of smelly suntan lotion on a crowded shuttle bus in Yosemite.

3. Several guests at the Wawona Hotel in Yosemite repeatedly locking and unlocking their cars, early in the morning and late at night, with remote devices that made the cars beep loudly. As if they key itself wouldn’t work.

2. A woman standing on the steps of the Wawona Hotel late in the evening, shouting repeatedly at her husband in the parking lot to “get your butt up here” because she was unhappy with their room assignment.

1. A woman lowering a diapered baby with spit-up all over the front of his life jacket into the hot tub at a resort in Santa Barbara. When she noticed people staring, she wiped the vomit off with her hand — which she then put in the hot tub with the baby.  (I got out right quickly.)

This is no rap on California. I’ve seen a lot worse in my time, like the woman soaping up her dog in the shower of a hotel locker room in Montreal. In fact, my husband and I both thought that Yosemite seemed to bring out the best in people. Or maybe it just brought out the best people.

Still, there’s one in every crowd … and I’m not so sure that it hasn’t sometimes been me.


2 thoughts on “Bad Tourist: Five Thoughtless Things I Saw On Vacation

  1. Tom

    True confession: I was one of those people once.

    I was standing around our campsite at Denali National Park in Alaska one night and was running my mouth for all to hear.

    I didn’t really think too much about annoying the neighbors. After all, the sun hadn’t even set yet.

    Well, what I had forgotten was that it was June 21, the shortest night of the year (and, of course, in Alaska, that’s very short indeed).

    All my senses were telling me it was 8 or 9 in the evening. It was actually 1 or 2 in the morning.

    I’m surprised someone didn’t shoot me.

    1. Jeanne Leblanc Post author

      True story: I was camping with some relatives when two people showed up rather late and started setting up camp very noisily at the site next door. Clanging tent poles, ice thrown in the cooler, etc. We were rather annoyed until we saw, the next morning, that they were talking to each other in sign language. They just couldn’t hear the noise they were making, and of course they were very quiet neighbors after that.


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