No matter where we go in life, no matter how far we travel or make it up the career ladder, it's impossible to escape the people who just drive us insane. I'm talking about the ones who are so annoying they make your teeth itch when they speak and the ones who you just can't seem to escape. When you're travelling, you're constantly meeting hundreds of new people each week and have to be open to making new friends at every turn. So what happens if you meet someone who just rubs you up the wrong way? Well I have to admit I've been pretty lucky so far and haven't really been annoyed by anyone I've met - bet all you travel friends were waiting to see if I'd pick on any of you haha - but I certainly know a few people who have been. It's definitely a lot easier out here to let things go and take a deep breath when you're surrounded by palm trees, sandy beaches and sunshine, but that doesn't eliminate the annoyance altogether.
Now you all know I'm not really one for negativity so this post isn't all about annoying people and how to deal with them. Instead, I thought I'd change it up by turning this into an advice post for all of us travellers to be a bit more mindful about our behaviours so that we aren't making life difficult for others. I always think it's so important to be aware of how we impact on the lives of others and that is especially true when you are behaving in certain ways around other cultures and personalities. It's very easy to forget that your friends at home have known you for years and have accepted your flaws, but new people along the road might be less forgiving if you're not respectful of their beliefs or choices. And let's face it, we all just want to make friends and meet people, so what should we avoid doing that could lose us this opportunity? So here are my top tips for avoiding being one of those travelling idiots nobody wants to hang out with:
Don't be... The one who does nothing but party
Did you come to see the world or have an extended lads-on-tour experience? You can do both in balance and have a great time partying with your newfound friends after a day sightseeing and soaking up the culture but people get bored of the person who never stops partying pretty quick. It's exhausting to be around someone who just wants to get on it all the time and you never get a real chance to experience the country around you - plus sharing a dorm with a roaring drunk is not fun when it's every single night. Don't use everything as an excuse to get wasted - from the Thai queen's birthday to managing to clip your own toenails. Some of the best travelling experiences I've had have been the more chilled out times spent with friends.
Don't be... The selfish one
This applies to all manner of traits and can appear in many different forms. All us backpackers have come across the traveller with a serious snoring problem who still insists on booking him or herself into the 18-bed dorm so they can keep everyone else awake all night. Those ones that even the most effective earplugs won't help with. Or there's the ones who rudely switch on all the lights when everyone else is asleep, the ones who come in rustling bags and packing up their stuff at 5am, and who could forget the ones who decide that is the perfect time to have a loud conversation about ragging some ladyboy or something equally polite? We all have to make allowances when sharing a room with up to 20 other people but there is a limit.
Don't be... The dirty one
There's always one person who just doesn't seem to wash and whose clothes smell far beyond the usual backpacker standard. The one who leaves the shared bathroom in a gag-worthy state. The one whose quick-drying traveller towel smells like something died on it. The one who only seems to ever wear that same pair of socks that must have once been white and are now a sickly grey colour with various stains you're scared to identify. The traveller who stopped at a place and loved it so much they stayed to work on the bars, party all day every day and steadily look more and more run down and unwashed.
Don't be... The naked one
This is something that has totally astonished me since arriving in Asia - the sheer number of travellers, backpackers and holiday makers who think it is acceptable to walk down the street in what are predominantly Buddhist, Hindu and Muslim countries in nothing more than a bikini/shorts. Usually accompanied by a hideous sunburn, these individuals are not only offending my eyes, but they are also hugely offending a whole other culture and way of life, and they are giving a bad name to the rest of us. I have to say that Brits are pretty bad with this, but it's not just us. I just think that if you are pulling up to a religious icon or temple on a scooter wearing just enough to cover your nether regions, you really need to reassess your priorities in life and learn some respect. Walking down the street is no different, think about what you are doing and do some research on the culture.
Don't be... The know-it-all
Sharing knowledge and tips acquired along your travels is a great part of travelling - I love meeting other travellers and having the chance to recommend hostels, activities and bars. Likewise, I love meeting travellers who have just come from my next destination - it's the best way to get up-to-date and accurate advice on where to stay and what to do. This is how I planned my whole journey through Laos and Vietnam. The problems start when you meet some individuals who love to talk about their experiences but don't seem to listen when you share yours - often they are the ones who are busy planning what they will say next. Not listening to people, or thinking you know best because you are older is really rude and definitely won't make people want to hang out with you.
Don't be... The worrier
Some of us are naturally more inclined to worry and overplan than others. I used to be like that, always organising. But then I realised that no matter how well you plan and worry about something, it can still go tits up at the last moment and you just have to accept it. Worrying causes you a whole lot of extra stress and affects those around you. Now while it is hard to eliminate this trait entirely, it is possible to cut back on allowing yourself to stress over every tiny thing, which will also allow you to enjoy yourself more. Things like worrying about getting sick are pointless - yes you can be careful with food and drink and you can be cautious about using the water, but you can get sick from so many things and it is a fact of life for backpackers - deal with it when it happens. Don't stress about getting robbed or taken advantage of - yes, take precautions but there is no point worrying all the time as you may end up making yourself more of a target.
The most important message of this post is be yourself, that's the person people will love. But just be aware of how you come across - don't make life harder or less fun for anyone else, or for yourself. It's amazing how easily certain things can become a part of our character, but travelling demands you be the best you can be - so why not take the opportunity to work on developing yourself as a person?
Have you struggled to get along with anyone while travelling? How did you deal with the situation? Can you offer any other advice for being a good and conscientious traveller?