21 Foolproof Ways to Be the Worst Travel Companion Ever
Ugh, people, amiright? Always inviting you on trips, asking you to come out into the world with them, to try new things, see new countries, make new memories. “Hell is other people,” as Jean-Paul Sartre would say, but it’s also other places -- places out of your comfort zone, places where they don’t speak English, or have the things you like, as you like them, just so. Places where you ask, “Don’t you know who I am?” and they genuinely don’t.
How can you avoid the manifold horrors of traveling with others? Well, as a matter of fact, there are a few techniques you can deploy on your next group trip that’ll have everyone wondering why you even came, and which asshole invited you. Some will require expert-grade feats of narcissism and obliviousness. But most are accessible to even run-of-the-mill brats.
Here’s how to lock down a reputation as the worst traveling companion on the planet. Because basic travel etiquette is for the weak of spirit. You, yourself, are the center of your universe.
1. Make sure everyone’s day revolves around you getting coffee.
You enjoy coffee, we get it. No, wait -- you say you really love coffee? And that you can’t start your day without coffee? And before we can make a single plan, we need to talk about where you’re getting your coffee? And if something comes before coffee, we all need to reflect on how crucial it is that you get coffee as soon as possible? Why, this has now become exciting for all involved!
2. Refuse to go anywhere without first checking Yelp.
Flying to a place with minimal cell service/data? Do your friends a favor and research absolutely nothing ahead of time. Promise them you'll be spontaneous! Then, right as you're about to walk out the door, say you want to look up one thing before losing Wi-Fi. Proceed to spend the next four hours looking through recommendations posted by strangers on Instagram and Yelp and Foursquare. Let those strangers dictate your favorite coffee shops and must-see attractions. Double-check the restaurants and sites your friends want to visit, to ensure they meet the minimum four-star requirement. Only the very best for you and your travel dollars! Now repeat this ritual this every morning.
3. Take no part in the decision-making process, because you “really don’t care.”
Groupthink is especially fun when a few members of the group refuse to weigh in or help plan any activities, or express any desires or opinions whatsoever. Really double down by coupling this mentality with a general dissatisfaction and disdain for everyone else’s choices.
4. Pretend you're the first person who's ever experienced jetlag.
A really stellar way to never be invited on any trip ever again is to kvetch extensively about the nine-hour time difference that literally everyone else on the trip is experiencing as if you, and you alone, must illustrate what being tired feels like. Make sure to pepper in constant comments like "It's 2am at home right now" and "Can we just go back to the hotel?"
5. Bring a huge suitcase, stuffed with unnecessary shit.
Good news: There’s a sackful of ways you can bog down a vacation with just your luggage. Going on a weekend road trip? Take a ludicrously oversized holdall, so the trunk is so full your friends have to sit with their appropriately sized bags on their laps for the next three hours. Going for a rough-and-ready backpacking trip? Be the girl with a load of stuff that serves no purpose except faintly embarrassing your companions when you produce it -- we’re talking monogrammed passport holders, laminated itineraries, and camera bags to protect your camera bags. And of course, don’t forget to forget absolutely everything useful, so you can pester your friend to share their towel, sunscreen, and deodorant.
6. Stay in constant communication with your significant other.
You miss your boyfriend. And you paid to be here, so if you want to spend the majority of the trip texting him, that’s your prerogative. Better yet, FaceTime him while you're walking around Barcelona. It’s almost as if he's right there with you, strolling down La Rambla! He’s a welcomed distraction from your obnoxious friend who keeps wanting to, like, go places. Why do anything when you can lounge at the hotel pool and Snapchat with boo?
7. Wander off, every chance you get.
If you’re in a traveling group of two or more, forego everyone’s shared enthusiasm and wanderlust -- and simply leave, whenever you feel like it. Forget that this is a girls trip, a bachelor’s weekend, or a group tour, and just do you! Never mind that you were all on the same flight together: Stick to your own agenda, even if it means skipping the booze cruise or that fancy dinner. Going rogue to take that coveted photo for Instagram is more important. Maybe go so far as to ask your travel mates to drop you off somewhere -- with the rental car you all went in on.
8. Compare everything to home.
We get it, they get it -- you really like your Chicago pizza, it’s the best (way better than this 2 euro “pizza” from Napoli). And that club you go to every weekend back home is popping, and attracts an insane caliber of hotties, unlike this shit bar in Medellín. You grew up in Chicago and want to tell everyone you meet about it, and this trip is about you, and how everything compares to your experiences. Maybe you’d like to -- just go home?
9. Make Instagram your top priority.
Force your whole group to stop what they're doing and take several pictures of you from different angles next to this mural/wall of graffiti. Ask them which filter looks the best, and workshop your captions over dinner. Prioritize your preferred activities based on what would make your Instagram story look the coolest. Start crying hysterically when your phone runs out of battery in the middle of the Venice water tour. Become a straight-up legend.
10. Be prohibitively stingy...
Travel costs can mount up, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Don’t just take a snack for the flight; pack the necessary ingredients for when you arrive, too, so you can make sandwiches every night at the Airbnb. Accompany your friends to the local restaurants they were so looking forward to trying, and just sit there and watch them eat. Guilt them into changing their plans so you don’t have to pay that museum entrance fee. And even after a long day of traipsing around doing nothing, except occasionally sneaking into cafe restrooms without buying anything, make sure nobody calls a taxi home. Better to do the 4-mile journey on foot, because you’ll save $6.50 (between the four of you) and by the time you get back nobody will have enough energy to go out for drink.
11. ... Or, propose huge expenses that your companions can’t cover.
Ask everyone to spend exorbitant amounts of money on group activities with no warning whatsoever. You want to take a $500 helicopter ride for 30 minutes of city views? Great idea! Make sure to insist that they have to go with you, and if anyone seems unsure, pressure them heavily in front of everyone with no regard for their budgets. Better yet, make them explain their financial situation to the whole group!
12. Be completely incapable of dragging your ass out of bed in the morning.
Force your companions to dither for hours waiting for you to surface. As they debate whether they should just leave without you, fold another pillow over your head to block out those nasty sunbeams. When you do stop hitting snooze, take your sweet time smoking that morning cigarette and scrolling through Instagram before finally announcing you “have to shower.”
13. Be too cool to be a tourist.
Yeah, yeah, we know. You're "a traveler, not a tourist." So is every other Instagram "influencer" with a feed full of #authentictravel photos. You'd rather die than be seen on a group walking tour or taking a selfie with the Tower of Pisa. No matter how far on the brink of starvation your travel companions are, you’re not stopping until you find a real local restaurant that doesn’t cater to, ugh, tourists. You'll fly all the way to Munich during Oktoberfest but refuse to go inside, not even once, because indulging in giant pickled pork knuckles and dirndls and beer steins somehow wouldn’t be authentic enough.
14. Refuse to download Venmo.
Or TransferWise, PayPal, Ca$h, Zelle, Chase Mobile, or fucking Western Union -- because of “privacy reasons.” We all know what you're doing is actually just a not-clever ploy to get out of paying for that fourth Aperol Spritz, when everyone else only had one beer.
Conversely, let “you still need to pay me back for ___” become your vacation mantra. Hound your friend every 10 minutes about the pack of gum you picked up for him at the airport.
15. Make sure everyone knows you're from America, the world’s only real country.
Your friends may not share your effusive enthusiasm for the US of A, but you go ahead and lead the charge for Brand America: at restaurants, at hotel desks, on public transit. What, there’s no special treatment for being American? Have you seen our bald eagles and our Lakers Girls? Also, what’s this Monopoly money people keep referring to as currency? You’re the one at Gare du Nord who sneers at the ticket agent while waving a crisp, patriotic $100 bill, “What, y’all don’t take REAL money here?!” Back-to-back World War Champions, and you’re wearing the hat to prove it.
16. Mock the local language and accent.
OK, so you didn’t bother learning a speck of the language before leaving home, but there’s no harm in winging it, right? A good approach is to say all the words you’d say back home, just in an exaggerated foreign accent: “Mamma mia! What-a doo-a you mean-a, you have-a no-a pizza!”
To take it to the next level, move onto making obnoxious jokes in front of your hosts. Tell the old lady at the haberdashers in Moscow how funny you find it that the Russian word for sew is pronounced “shit.” Then when the market seller in Marrakesh tells you orange juice costs ithnine, meaning “two,” goad him with “it’s not nine, it’s two, you dumbass HA HA HA!” If all else fails, resort to asking people you meet (loudly), “Speak-ee English?” and watch your travel companions cringe into oblivion at your rapier wit.
17. Traveling as a couple? Take every last filter off your relationship.
It's important that everyone you guys are traveling with know the intimate details of your relationship, whether that’s how you’re going to rabbit-boink in the next hotel’s sauna, or how you’re literally Googling “does divorce in Mexico count in the US?” Get yourselves in an enclosed, shared space with other travelers -- like a hostel, for example, or a taxi -- and really be as passive aggressively god awful to each other as possible.
18. Find any excuse not to interact with your travel companions.
You’d rather be traveling solo, but then who would be there to split all the bills? Most deals are based on double occupancy, after all. Have it both ways by becoming an apparition as you move through the world with your travel companion. Don't talk. Retreat inward. Attach yourself to your phone. Can you set the world's record for number of games of Candy Crush completed on an eight-hour flight? Plug into that seat back and go to town. Do everything in your power to make others feel like they are traveling with an electronic device, not a person.
19. Honestly, just complain incessantly. Raise complaints to a high art.
Misery loves company, so naturally your company must be fascinated by your misery. Let us all in on your most reflexive, diuretic dislikes. Complain that the A/C’s too cold, the flight is too long, the exchange rate sucks, the hotel lobby’s too sketchy, the manager’s an idiot, the room is too small, the view could have been better, the food is too spicy, the wine isn’t chilled enough, the market is too crowded, the taxi smells bad, the locals don’t speak English. Complain, in fact, until everyone else starts complaining on the sly about you.
20. Be a full-on unholy ungrateful nightmare.
There are people out there who like to travel to encounter new things and open their minds. If you’re with those sorts of people, all you have to do to ruin the experience is grind your heels into the dirt like a mule, or a 5-year-old.
As an example, head to a famous red wine region in Spain where your companion had called in favors for vineyard tours with producers in advance. Visit one winemaker, who welcomes you like a long-lost relative, brings you for a long drive through his properties, and tells you his family's history. When you get to the barrel room, spring it on everyone that you couldn’t care less about red wine, and that any poured for you would be a waste. Later, at dinner with the host and his family, defy every norm of basic human decency by cataloguing your similar disgust with what’s on the table: say you hate olives, you can’t stand onions, and that wood-oven-roasted suckling lamb is the least-appetizing meat you can think of. Later, act shocked when your traveling companion takes his leave when you suggest, in Madrid, that you swing by a Starbucks.
21. Or, you know what? Just flake, preferably as late as possible.
How to be the worst traveling companion? Don't be one at all. Let your friend buy tickets, reserve rooms, purchase tours -- it's best if these are all nonrefundable -- then bail at the last minute like the wanderlust-wrecking asshat you are, leaving your travel mate wondering whether to go through with the trip solo, or cancel and kiss thousands of dollars goodbye. Either way, you’ve really given her a chance to build some character.