I've spent half a century (yikes) writing for radio and print—mostly print. I hope to be still tapping the keys as I take my last breath.
Sometimes, when people go on holiday, it must seem as if they forget to pack their brains along with their undies and toothpaste when they leave home. For others, no matter how hard their hosts try their efforts will never satisfy.
Trouble with Food
It seems some people travelling abroad don’t realize the food they are accustomed to at home might not be available in a more exotic location. Here, from a selection of complaints compiled by Thomas Cook and the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) and quoted by Mark Russell in Australia’s The Age (April 12, 2009), are a few of the troubles:
- “I think it should be explained in the brochure that the local store does not sell proper biscuits like custard creams or ginger nuts.”
- “On my holiday to Goa in India, I was disgusted to find that almost every restaurant served curry. I don’t like spicy food at all.”
- A hotel guest in Australia found the soup he was eating too strong and thick. The waiter pointed out he was dipping his spoon into the gravy boat.
Which is reminiscent of the hoary old joke about the man in a restaurant asking, “Waiter, what’s this fly doing in my soup?” To which the waiter replied with unflappable Jeeves-like solemnity, “Looks like the backstroke, Sir.”
The Hazards of the Beach
In The Telegraph it’s recorded that one tourist bellyached that the “beach was too sandy,” while another “found the sand was not like the sand in the brochure. Your brochure shows the sand as yellow but it was white.” Yet another complained “the beach had too many fat people. It was gross.”
Certainly, a traveller might be concerned about a large fin sticking out of the water as it cruises just offshore. But, one tourist complained that “No one told us there would be fish in the sea. The children were startled.”
And, beaches can be distracting places. A lady grumbled, “Topless sunbathing on the beach should be banned. The holiday was ruined as my husband spent all day looking at other women.” “Henry. HENRY! Did you hear what I just said?”
The Challenges of Providing Accommodation
Many travellers have arrived at their destination to find their hotel is not quite what they expected. Technically, the brochure might be correct in describing a sea view but the only way it can be obtained is to stand on the toilet tank, craning the head out of the window, and there is indeed a glimpse of ocean between the sewage lagoon and the abattoir. In such a case a complaint might be in order.
At the Daily Record there are some stories about hotel guests who seem unable to think: “I compared the size of our one-bedroom apartment to our friends’ three-bedroom apartment and ours was significantly smaller.” No kidding.
And instructions can be confusing. One guest was on the verge of calling police because she thought staff had locked her in the room; she had mistaken the “Do not disturb” sign on the inside of her door as an instruction to not leave.
A hotel that warned its guests in a brochure that there were “No hairdressers at the accommodation” received the following query “We’re trainee hairdressers – will we be OK staying here?”
But, some people do have genuine reasons to complain and there are places for them to do just that.
A woman booked a vacation with Celebrity Cruises. It turns out the voyage was devoid of Kardashians, Biebers, and Rihanna’s. There was not a single celebrity aboard, not even Tom Cruise; you’d have thought he would have shown up. The vacationer complained Celebrity Cruises was guilty of “false advertising” because of the lack of stars.
Cruise.co.uk has some astonishing whinging to report:
- “A husband on a two-week honeymoon cruise complained that the staff did not decorate the cabin in white, did not scatter rose petals everywhere each morning and did not deliver champagne and strawberries via a private butler. The man requested no special service; he just expected the cruise staff to ‘know.’ ” Something suggests this bride is going to have trouble living up to hubby’s expectations.
- “A first-time cruise passenger blamed the captain for not warning him that he could get seasick and asked for a schedule of cruises in which he wouldn’t get seasick.” Land cruises perhaps?
Problems in the Bedroom
The Thomas Cook/ABTA collection contains a poignant story: “My fiancé and I booked a twin-bedded room but we were placed in a double-bedded room. We now hold you responsible for the fact that I find myself pregnant. This would not have happened if you had put us in the room that we booked.”
A different kind of problem struck a couple engaged in the traditional activity couples engage in while away for the weekend with grandma babysitting the kids. The chambermaid walked in on them and according to the man “giggled at his size.” This he said had reduced him to a quivering wreck who could no longer “perform.”
In a similar vein, there’s the newlywed who stayed with his beloved in an African lodge overlooking a waterhole. An elephant with obvious signs of procreation on his mind and anatomy strolled into view. The man complained that the sight of the jolly pachyderm made him feel “inadequate” and that this ruined his honeymoon.
Tourists ask the dumbest questions:
- “Who feeds the Loch Ness monster?”
- “How do you guys keep the glaciers white during the summer? Do you have to paint them?”
- “At what time do they fire the noon gun?”
- “Where can I buy some totem pole seeds?”
- “Is Wales closed in the winter?”
- “Who performs at the circus in Piccadilly?”
- “Which bus do I get from the Orkney Islands to the Shetland Islands?”
- “Why did they build Windsor Castle under the flight path for Heathrow Airport?”
- “Is Edinburgh in Glasgow?”
- “Why, when I insert my American bank card in an ATM machine [in Canada], does it give me Canadian money?”
- “Beaches too Sandy, Fish Scare the Kids: It’s a Fawlty Towers World for Some Tourists.” Mark Russell, The Age, April 12, 2009.
- “Twenty Ridiculous Complaints Made by Holidaymakers.” The Telegraph, October 1, 2016.
- “Revealed: Tourists’ Crazy and Outrageous Complaints.” Daily Record July 18, 2009)
- “25 Of the Stupidest Cruise Complaints We’ve Ever Heard.” Cruise.co.uk, July 23, 2015.
- “ ‘Who Feeds the Loch Ness Monster?’ - 20 Stupid Questions Asked by Tourists.” The Telegraph, February 5, 2017.
- “Stupid Questions Tourists Ask When They Visit Canada.” Michael Bolen, Huffington Post, June 24, 2014.
© 2017 Rupert Taylor
Lena Durante from San Francisco Bay Area on June 07, 2017:
Wow, these are hilarious! Customer service is a hard job, no matter where you are, but tourists always seem a little extra entitled.
When my cousin was visiting a few years ago, I took her to the famous twisty Lombard Street in San Francisco to snap a few photos and then ride the cable car down the hill. At least three dozen tourists were standing in the middle of the road, while the locals tried desperately not to hit them with their cars. Eventually, I got annoyed and tried to herd people onto the sidewalks, at which point I was asked, "Are you in charge here?" and reprimanded for having the audacity to think that a public street in a residential neighborhood should be kept clear for normal traffic. Absurd.
Al Greenbaum from Europe on March 22, 2017:
I think some people expect their holiday destinations to be custom made. Rather than engage with locals and see their way of life, they just want to be abroad but with the comforts of home. Surely, the beauty of travel is experiencing the world from another perspective.
Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on March 20, 2017:
Quite entertaining and insightful. No fish in the sea? What a crime! Are the travel agents now required to engage people in an intelligence test before they sell them travel tickets?
Al Greenbaum from Europe on March 20, 2017:
I heard of a complaint that bemoaned the fact that a beach in Turkey was " full of Turks". Great Hub.
Chris Mills from Traverse City, MI on March 19, 2017:
Very funny, and I Have no problem believing any of it.
Nell Rose from England on March 19, 2017:
LOL! oh that did make me laugh! I could have carried on reading! thanks for making me chuckle!