Spend enough time in hostels, on planes and trains, or in tour groups, and you start to realise something: it doesn't matter where you are in the world, you're usually surrounded by the same people.
OK, not exactly the same people, but the same types of people. It takes certain personality types to travel the world, and I can guarantee there are at least a few of these people sharing the dorm with you right now.
Some are great fun to be around. Others ... aren't.
You know this guy. He's stunned that you paid that much for a souvenir when you could have haggled the seller down by at least 20 more rupees. He knows about your hostel – some people on TripAdvisor were saying it's a rip-off. He'll take that beer you just bought, but he can't afford to get a round himself. He's headed to the supermarket to stock up for the next fortnight. He's not much fun at all.
I'm probably a bit of a foodie myself, so it's a shame to admit that most foodies are pretty painful to travel with. Nothing is ever authentic enough for them, unless they're eating at a four-table restaurant being hand-fed by the chef. Or counting off Michelin stars on their fingers. Every conversation seems to be steered towards food. Have you tried this? Why are you eating that? Where can I find those? It gets to be way too much.
You'll know the Astrayan straight away, because he or she will tell you they're Astrayan. Straight away. They're from Straya, which is the best country in the world. How lucky are we to be Astrayan, eh? This foreign country we're visiting is great and interesting and everything, but how backward is it? And how lucky are we that we can go back to Straya? Real lucky. (In fairness though, Strayans are always friendly.)
The guidebook slave
Everyone's met a Lonely Planet slave, those who clutch their blue books and won't go anywhere without its recommendation. They check off the attractions with a pencil, making sure they're on track with the suggested "two days in" itinerary. But there's another breed, those who vocally shun the LP because they're different to everyone else. Instead they consult the Rough Guide, or the Frommer's. Because you don't just want to be another sheep.
This is a traveller you might want to stick with, because they've done their homework. They know you can get into that gallery for free on a Sunday; they know you qualify for a discount on the metro; they know about that monument tucked behind those buildings. They're a font of information. The only downside to the expert is that they've seen all this stuff before, in another country, and it was way better there.
The party animal
Needs little explanation. This person is the perfect companion if you're up for a couple of beers, for meeting new people and having a good time. And of course they're a nightmare if you're not.
Has the incredible ability to find something wrong with pretty much every experience. The food is too expensive or the beds are too hard or the people are too rude or city is too big or the bus is too small. These are people you want to jettison as soon as possible – they'll only bring you down.
The axe murderer
This guy might not really be an axe murderer but there's definitely something creepy about him – he looks like he's fled his home country and is lying low till all this blows over.
I have nothing against the choice vegetarians make to refrain from eating meat. However, once you start travelling with one you realise the hassle this creates in countries where vegetarianism isn't embraced. Basically, to be a vegetarian you have to be prepared to put other people out in order to meet your dietary needs. One of the most painful sentences a traveller can hear: "Can we find somewhere that's vegetarian?"
The splurger has been saving up for this holiday for years and plans to go as hard as possible. They want to have as much fun as possible, to buy everything possible, experience everything possible, and eat, drink and consume everything possible. In other words, they're awesome.
Rolls up to the hostel with a guitar case slung over his back. Every night he'll pull it out to "entertain" his fellow travellers – or at the very least have sex with one. These guys can fall into two categories. They can either be great musicians and a blast to have around, or they can be, er, learning.
Is there anything more painful that sharing a dorm with a blogger? "Hey, you should totally check out my blog!" Yeah? Or you could just, you know, tell me about your experiences in person – while that guy plays guitar and the Astrayan hits the beers and the splurger buys rounds – and save me the trouble.
What are the traveller stereotypes you've noticed on your wanderings? Which is the best and worst to travel with?
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