Coping with Difficult Personalities on Vacation
On our travels we have met, observed and yes, tolerated, many different vacation personality types. Some encounters resulted in lasting friendships, while others were not so pleasurable.
On our recent Bella Toscana tour we met a lovely young German couple at the B&B we stayed in while preparing for the arrival of our clients and the move to the private villa. We asked them to join us for dinner at one of our favorite Tuscan restaurants ‘Ristoro di Lamole’ , just outside of Greve, since they were unfamiliar with the area and had no dinner plans. It was a relaxed night with great conversations about Italy, food and wine. We had an easy going exchange of ideas and knowledge about the local foods and customs and they were open to our suggestions when they found that we hosted tours and knew the restaurant very well. These two were the sort of folks you want to meet on vacation; cultured, interesting, easy-going and mannered. We still stay in touch with them and visit when we are local to each other.
Unfortunately these sorts of encounters are not always the norm. Other travelers, some of whom you might already know, some you are involuntary stuck with and those who show up at places and events you participate in could put a damper on your vacation spirit, therefore we have compiled a list of them and suggestions on how to cope.
The Smarty Pants:
These folks think they have a better knowledge of EVERYTHING. They are easily identified because they use the phrase "I know" - A LOT. They "know" all the customs and traditions of the locals, are "best friends" with every hotel manager, maître d' and guide and can opine on any subject you foolishly raise. The worst part is they are often wrong and can be misleading. Finally, you may miss important or interesting information while this blowhard fills your ears with self important babble.
After listening politely and providing light praise for their knowledge, state that you would like to make your own experiences and form your own opinions, and move away. This sort of personality will quickly latch on to the next poor sucker who makes eye contact.
Complaints about too much sand on the beach, it's too hot, it's too cold, the weather is perfect - why isn't it like this at home, hard beds, soft beds, stiff sheets, not enough blankets, rich food, too much food, not enough food, long drives, we could have walked, steep hills, too many people, or - our personal favorite - "There's nothing to do" in an ancient town full of bars, coffee shops, museums, palazzos, historical buildings and beautiful views.
Generally these people are desperately seeking attention. They are negative about obviously wonderful things in order to elicit sympathy or get your attention. They are nearly impossible to please, but when they return home will tell everyone how wonderful the vacation was.
These people can easily ruin a vacation if you allow yourself to become absorbed in their misery. You should get away quickly or, if you are stuck with them, neutralize them by always being cheery and upbeat about whatever it is they are complaining about, it takes the wind out of their sails.
Strangely always appears where you happen to be on your vacation. They are eager and interested in anything you want to do and do not take social cues that would normally encourage them to leave you alone, like ignoring them or running away.
Generally these are lonely people who are trying to find a connection to other travelers.
Politely endure the interruption for a while and then excuse yourself and grab your favorite vacation read, go for a swim in the pool or, if traveling with a companion, state very clearly, but kindly, that you are going to engage in some activity you were looking to enjoy with your companions ONLY.
Generally status or body obsessed. You have met these folks before at work and home. This type enjoys posing like a peacock around the pool, talking about their car, job, house or trophy spouse and can be quite annoying to other travelers. To them anything they ‘own’ is always the biggest and best. They try to dominate conversations and love to interrupt others.
Unfortunately the best solution is to ignore them and, if possible, distance yourself ...they generally can’t be helped.
At every buffet there are those special items, crab legs, caviar or truffles on anything that are happy little surprises as you come across them in your travels down the line. Most people have manners - they take a bit and move on. The Buffet-Gorilla, on the other hand, scans the line for the high dollar items and zeros in, filling their plate and piling it high. Generally it’s not because they are hungry but simply because it’s the most expensive or exclusive thing on the line. The real danger is if they have a family or if there are more than one. Your chances of enjoying any of these delicacies drops exponentially the more Buffet-Gorillas there are.
Do not tolerate their cutting in line, point them politely to the end of the line. If they are in front of you, or you see them repeatedly gorging themselves, do not hesitate to point it out to management who will either deal with it politely or ensure you get a little something extra to sooth your nerves.
These notorious flirts are only enjoying themselves when they are on the hunt - seeking out and pursuing those who have caught their eye. Particularly annoying are their silly pick-up lines, fake interest and touchy-feely-ness. These sorts select vacations they feel they have a chance of "scoring" on and really don't have much interest outside of the game they are playing.
If polite turn downs are not doing the trick the best way to get rid of them, is to send them packing in front of a crowd, humiliation in front of an audience stings and they will not be back for more of that.
The Party Animal:
On a vacation this sort can be fun or annoying, it really depends on you. They drink copious amounts of alcohol, sing and speak at full volume, and are eternally looking for the next party. This type can often be found when dealing with sport clubs, hobby trips, or groups of college kids. They can be found at rest between 9 AM and 4 PM while dealing with the hangover from the day before.
You have two choices here - 1. Join the party 2. Use earplugs.
What type do you find the most annoying when traveling? And how have you dealt with them?