The Hobo Guide to Travellers You’ll Meet on the Road
Like an episode of David Attenborough’s Life of Mammals, any globetrotting you do will allow you to get up close and personal with a variety of different species. Maybe you’re encountering gibbons in the Laos jungle or seeking pink dolphins in the depths of the Amazon, or perhaps you are hunting the vast expanse of whatever town you are in searching for “The Tourist”.
Regardless of how you feel about them, tourists are a planetary epidemic and at no time is this more evident than when heading down the well-trodden path of global exploration. So don your jazziest safari suit, untangle your binoculars, and, on your next trip, see if you can play Spot the Tourist, rewarding yourself 10 points for each group of explorers encountered along the way.
Don’t worry if you feel awkward about pigeonholing people – I’ve already done that for you.
1. Selfie Enthusiasts
Never hard to spot, the selfie enthusiasts are often pack creatures, easily identified via their excessively long arms which – when stretched out – can be used to photograph a range of spectacular facial expressions, often in front of important monuments. Never wanting to miss a shot, these shutterbugs will keep their cameras within reach, ready to pull them out at any moment in order to capture the ever-elusive perfect pout in front of the most spectacular backdrop. Selfie-enthusiasts are often at odds with their natural environment, in danger of actual danger because they failed to notice the volcano erupting in the background or the TURN BACK sign hidden beyond the camera’s view.
2. Story Topper
Easily identified not by sight but by sound, the story topper will frequently be heard before it is seen. Tell-tale signs you are indeed in the presence of such a creature include sentence interruption and lines such as, “I went there once but found much better hiking when I was in Africa/Iceland/The Moon,” and, “Oh you haven’t been to (insert obscure place here) yet? You really should, it’s amazing.” They are easily distinguished from other story-tellers by their abrasive approach and tendency to vocally dominate the pack with examples of what they’ve done that’s better. The story topper often becomes a lone wolf – not by choice, but by causing those around it to become afflicted with a case of blackout drunkenness as a self-defence mechanism to survive the evening.
3. Lads on Tour from Australia or the UK
Often comprised of several competing alpha males, a group of lads on tour is a spectacular sight of male dominance to behold. Distinguishable from other groups by their loud and persistent mating call, these collections of pack animals will sadly often find themselves without female companionship despite constantly being in search of it. Their call becomes most prominent after several trips to the watering hole after dark. This is their primary territory, where they tend to communicate via “banter” over an excessive consumption of liquid. A formidable predator, the lad group is known for being “shredded” and intimidating other packs via over-exposed pectoral muscles in loose singlets or letting it all hang out, bare-chested style. Fiercely loyal, the lad group will look out for each other if any threats are perceived from outsiders, and are most often heard from afar laughing hysterically, similar in style to that of the hyena.
4. Ageing Hippie
A lone wolf, the ageing hippie can be found in densely populated areas hunting alone for fresh prey to unload its stories upon. Often older and seemingly wiser than the young pups hanging around the hostel, the ageing hippie has a wealth of knowledge to pass down. Seen clad in the same backpacking gear they had when they were 19 – with the addition of dreadlocks and a bumbag – this solo traveller prefers to hide the true signs of their years on this earth with daily meditation and yoga. Young at heart, these characters often have much to teach and they will gladly take followers under their wing if it means the chance to re-tell the yarn about doing magic mushrooms on a mountain in Thailand.
5. Stingy Backpacker
Seemingly the most prevalent of the tourists, the stingy backpacker has its sights set on global dominance and often far surpasses the expectations of its elders in how long it can travel with little funds. A chameleon-like creature, the stingy backpacker can be seen blending in effortlessly with other packs in order to add to its tribe of Facebook friends before it leaves for the next destination. Known for their impeccable hunting skills and ability to scavenge cheap options and free food, the backpacker is both friend and foe to the standard tourist. Often without shame, they can be found roaming in packs or alone. More often than not, they will be poorly-dressed and are easily identifiable by the backpack-shaped hump strapped to them, which is customarily larger than the person carrying it.
6. Couples who don’t talk to anyone
Two different types of the elusive “love-birds” fall into this category: the couples who had matched up before the trip, and the others who mated during a night out and have fallen into a holiday romance. The latter tend to be consumed with initial sexual attraction, mating wherever possible, even if this is in a 10-bed dorm. While their time together is often brief, they will spend as many moments around each other as possible, often forgetting they are staying in hostel and not on their honeymoon. Eventually, they will say goodbye, head in different directions and begin the process anew with another person the next evening. The pre-mated pairs will have convinced themselves that they can still slumber in mixed dorms, spooning together on a single bed without raising ire in their fellow bunkmates. Rarely seen apart, this couple opts to scavenge together alone, deepening their bond at the expense of an all-night jelly shot rave with the rest of their hostel buddies.
While there has yet to be extensive research conducted on tagging and releasing a variety of other groups into the wild (white males with young Asian companions, jaded travellers, matching families, group tour enthusiasts), enough observation has occurred to create some categorisation. For the longest time, there was but one variety of tourist; now, thanks to global expansion and the abundance of cheap air-travel, each species can explore the Earth in whichever way they see fit.
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Rowan still hasn’t finished War & Peace, but she did use it to balance her dinner once. Living in London, she’s steadily working her way through the Europe’s great cities and hopes to try every wine in England before her visa expires.