Travel | August 25, 2022 12:37 pm

According to Reddit, These Are the 13 Worst Tourist Types

These folks traipse through local communities, annoying (and sometimes endangering) everyone in sight

A woman walks through flowers with a selfie stick.
Stomping through wildflowers with a selfie stick is a bit on the nose, isn't it?
Photo by FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images

A researcher for the University of Otago’s Department of Tourism, named Dr. Ismail Shaheer, recently assigned himself the Herculean task of combing through thousands of Reddit comments in subreddits centered around tourism. Dr. Shaheer previously worked in the Maldives Ministry of Tourism, and for years, has been interested in the controversies that seem to follow tourists wherever they go.

He concluded that he’d be most likely to find raw, unfiltered accounts of visitor misbehavior on Reddit, where users aren’t shy about sharing details in order to prove a larger point. (These details tend to be more specific than the sort you’d fins on Instagram or Twitter, too.) Over time, and after zeroing in on 10 subreddits with headings like “‘What’s the worst case of tourist ignorance you have seen?” Dr. Shaheer managed to identify 13 distinct “tourist types.” Here they are:

  • Culture disregarders
  • Disrupters
  • Litterers
  • Safety ignorers
  • Host abusers
  • Drunkards
  • Destroyers
  • Reckless drivers
  • Animal abusers
  • Queue cutters
  • Photo clickers
  • Careless parents
  • Lawbreakers

Some of these types have obvious examples. If you throw your schnitzel wrapper on the ground in Munich, you’re a litterer. Others, though, function as a catch-all for an array of deviant decisions. For culture disregarders, think: taking flash photographs of paintings that are sensitive to light, chatting loudly with friends while walking through the Anne Frank Museum, or scrambling around on rocks that are sacred to an indigenous community.

Bad looks, to say the least. Meanwhile, some of the other types here are just basic, day-to-day examples of people being assholes. Reckless driving, cutting lines, hurting animals…if you feel empowered to do these things abroad, you’re probably doing them at home. Travel inherently involves a collision of people from all walks of life — unfortunately, that’s bound to include a heavy supply of self-centered bastards.

Dr. Shaheer noticed one clear through line in his research: phones play a huge role. They’re the physical representation of a tourist’s obsession with documenting their trip for social media. If a tourist “needs” a specific shot in front of a recognizable building, they’re more likely to plod into the middle of a busy road, or balance on the edge of a precarious cliff at a national park. If they want to lambast their host their host for an Airbnb that wasn’t up to their standards, it’s possible they’ll attack them with a video posted to TikTok. If they want to prove to their followers how much fun they’re having in Mexico City, they might post a night’s worth of tequila shots to Instagram Story — then puke it all out on the way home.

Before traveling, soon-to-be tourists shouldn’t just check their packing lists. They should consult this list, and prepare themselves mentally to not end up on it. Vowing to not break the law is the absolute bare minimum; tourists should proactively try to read about both the history and current events of wherever they’re visiting, try to visit in the offseason if possible and consider visiting spots slightly off the beaten path.

The last example is difficult to pull off, but that’s where social media can actually help prospective visitors. As points out, ever the pandemic “pause,” many tourism boards have taken pains to reset sites that were already overrun by tourists a few years ago. They’re encouraging tourists to seek out other areas that are just as beautiful or culturally significant. Instead of worrying about your social media feed, then, make sure to follow the relevant feeds of wherever you’re traveling. You’ll end up an enlightened steward, instead of yet another damned tourist.