The Things That Travelers Complain About
We all have our good days and bad days.
After traveling in Asia in Europe, I’ve noticed that there a lot of things that we, as travelers tend to complain about. While we do try our best to keep things positive, going with the flow, but in all honesty, sometimes, certain things just gets to you and makes you want to explode. I’m not about to go through a debate of “why travelers and not tourists” because for me, at least in this blog post context, if you go anywhere beyond your home, you are a traveler.
These complaints come from different scenes that I’ve come across while traveling, be it in an airport lounge, a restaurant, bathrooms (yes it’s true), the bus, and other places. There are times when I’ve said quietly to myself “Oh for goodness sake, stop complaining” and then I realized that I’ve done something similar without realizing it.
After getting a lecture about how you’re supposed to go with the flow when you’re traveling in groups and all that, I lowered my complaints decimal to a minimum and only use it when necessary.
There are good days, and bad days too when we travel.
While I can’t wait to exercise this ‘complain’ power soon, I’d like to share with you some of the things that I’ve heard (including my own complaints) while traveling.
Complaint #1 : It’s just too hot.
When the weather is too hot, you complain that you don’t put on enough sunscreen and that your hat is not able to cover your entire face. You try to shade yourself under any dark spot of a tree that you see or rather stay inside the van while everyone is out. You choose to ride in a car or van, compared to walking because the air-con keeps your head cool.
Guilty as charged: I am guilty for this one because my body somehow is not able to adapt to the weather if it gets too hot. My normal excuse is that the sun gets to my wide forehead first (have you seen my forehead!) and that I sweat a lot easily (too much info, I know).
How to deal with this: I make sure I pack white tops and light pants that is comfortable enough to wear in the heat. If it gets too hot, I’ll tell my friends or family to go ahead while I wait for them somewhere. I also try to sing in my head and imagine myself under a waterfall, this helps most of the time.
Complaint #2 : Always blaming the weather.
If it’s not too hot, it’ll be too cold, too rainy or too windy. Either way, blaming the weather makes travel seem so challenging. They would be happy if the weather goes their way and when it doesn’t, all hell will break lose. There will be a lot of sulking and frowning, not to mention crankiness that could take up a whole train ride.
Not as guilty (but still guilty): I find it hard to travel when it’s too hot or too cold for me, and I often pray for a good weather that’s a balance of both. I love the rain and don’t mind it because it means I can stay in and nap for a bit before I explore the city again.
How to deal with this: Check the weather before you go out or plan according to the season that you prefer. If you love the cold, then travel during winter season. If you love the beach and all that sun, plan for the summer. Bring a raincoat for emergency situation (like how we got soaked in Nice or got weird looks in Monaco that one time).
Complaint #3 : Dirty Toilets
There is no lock on the door and you don’t want to touch a single thing as you enter the cubicle. The smell enters your nostrils even though it was being camouflaged by the flower pots at the toilet entrance. You can’t take it anymore and you say out loud “OMG what is this????!” pointing to the things piling out from the tiny dustbin at the corner behind you and those things inside ‘the bowl’. When you see a toilet with a hole in the floor, you shriek and regret ever coming to this part of the world. You would also highly consider peeing in the bush or holding it for the next 6 hours.
Guilty as charged: Toilets are one of the places where you might spend some quiet time and just zone out. I appreciate clean ones and try to think of something else if I encounter a dirty one. I don’t mind the squatting (hey I’m Asian) or sitting toilets as long as there’s water, I’m good to go. (Actually the squatting one is better because I won’t be touching anything.)
How to handle with this: Sometimes you just have to accept the fact that there will be places like this and you will have two options at that point; You can close your eyes, squat a bit and go or hold it until you reach the hotel. Oh and don’t think about it after. If you’re traveling in China, it’s best to bring an umbrella for this purpose.
Complaint #4 : Bad Service
Lets face it, when we travel, we expect good service from local establishments, especially if it’s a restaurant or hotel. We try to be patient, polite even things don’t go our way because we understand that we need to understand the culture before we jump the gun. However, sometimes things happen and we blow our short fuse. Tour guides bringing us to shops for commission purposes instead of the places we’re supposed to visit, food arriving to the table an hour and half later, well you get the drift.
Not as guilty (but still guilty): The one thing that I would complain about is if there’s something unusual in my food, like an insect or that one thing I shall not name that starts with the letter ‘C’. If the service is slow, I’d usually try to get their attention and bring up the issue.
How to handle this: Observe the situation first. Is this happening to only you or are there other people having the same problem? If it’s really bad service then yes I would suggest bringing this up to the Management’s attention. Otherwise, skip this service and go for another option.
Complaint #5 : Can you understand what I’m saying?
When we travel to a foreign land, we would know by then that language might be a barrier in those places. When I tried to get a tuk tuk here the first time, I encountered a man who couldn’t speak English. We were basically talking like chicken and ducks, two different languages using a lot of hand gestures. In Paris, if you’re lost and want to seek directions from a local, they would explain it to you in French, without blinking. Once they’re done, you realize that you might as well remember to retrace your steps or head to the nearest cafe with free wifi for help.
Not guilty: I fully understand that when we travel to certain countries, people might not be able to understand us. It’s normal for me because of where I live right now. Heck sometimes I don’t understand the languages that we have back home. Having accept this makes traveling to other places easier and less stressful.
How to handle this: Doing a research on the place that you’re about to visit will help you understand it better. Next you could write down the important words in both English and the local language. You can also print them out and bring it with you. There’s also the language app which will help translate certain words to the locals and if all else fails, show them a photo from your phone.
Complaint #6 : It’s sooooo expensive!
Who doesn’t love to shop in another country? We all love it one way or another especially when it comes to bargaining down the prices. I admit that most places that are targeted to tourists would have prices that double the local version. This seems normal to them as they feel that since we have the money to come all the way to their country then for sure we’ll be able to spend a little more on local items. Well, unfortunately this doesn’t resonate with most travelers. Sometimes I hear people complaining that the food is expensive, yet they order it because it’s a once-a-lifetime experience. Other times it’s about the souvenirs that they want to bring home or the transportation costs when traveling locally.
Not as guilty (but still guilty): I do bargain when I know that the price is at the utmost ridiculous point. For example, if a magnet costs $10 a piece, I’ll tell them it’s expensive and bargain down. If they don’t want to budge for half the price, then I’ll just move on.
How to handle this: Check with the hotel how much the local transportation costs before you head out. It’s also good to find out whether bargaining is part of the local culture. Places like Japan see bargaining as an insult therefore it’s not wise to persuade them to lower the price for your needs.
Complaint #7 : OMG look at the $ˆ@%#&@ crowd!
There was one incident during Hari Raya celebration where I felt dizzy and almost fainted in a shopping crowd. The thought of people cramming around and over me was just too overwhelming. This is the very reason why I can’t go to concerts where there’s a million people trying to make their way to the stage or any tourist spots with long queues in tight spaces. Nope, no way.
Guilty as charged: When I see a crowded area, I would usually start mumbling and then look for exit doors or spaces where I can stand with some privacy. I find it hard to breathe when there’s a lot of people around me, possibly because getting some oxygen level is a challenge when you’re almost 5 feet tall.
How to handle this: When visiting tourist spots, I like to be there early in the morning or afternoon, before the place closes. It also helps when there’s information on peak vs non-peak hours. If there’s too many people, I’ll either stay in a less crowded area or head to the nearest cafe and wait there. It’s tough dealing with a crowd especially when you’re in a situation that you have no control over.
Complaint #8 : The food is not good.
I am a fussy eater when it comes to the type of food I eat. Strangely enough though, I am not big on commenting whether the food is good or bad. For me, if it’s good of course I’ll finish it all up and tell my family, friends of this wonderful place. However, if the food turns out to be bad, I’ll just stop eating altogether and leave it there. Maybe it’s because I started out in the service industry and was on the serving end back then. I have a little empathy for those in this line.
Not guilty: If the food is bad, I’ll let the waiter or cashier know discreetly. There’s no need to make a big scene, throwing things everywhere or raising our voice just to be heard. Sometimes the gentler approach works.
How to handle this: If you happen to be in this situation, the best way is to provide feedback to the staff or the Manager. Usually they’ll be more than happy to compensate for the inconvenience. If not, there’s always other places with good service and food in town.
Keep Calm and Travel On.
First of all I find that breathing calmly helps clear the mind in finding the best solution. Anger could be the easy way out, but I find that this helps bring urgent attention to a problem.
I too, am guilty of these complaints especially when you’ve been zipping in and out of a country a lot. It also helps if you take things slow, have an open mind about new culture, experiences and go with an awesome travel buddy that you click with.
In the end, traveling is about enjoying the moment and the experiences that you get through the journey. The good and the bad is all part of this cycle. Always remember that we are not in our own country, therefore we need to always understand the situation at hand before we do something.
Are you guilty of any of these complaints when traveling?
About Yafieda Jamil
A Malaysian girl currently working abroad in Phnom Penh city. I love a good road trip, hot cappuccinos, spicy food and staring at old buildings. My mission is to inspire people to see the world differently before we all get any older. Oh and giraffes are the most beautiful creatures on earth.