Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | March 18, 2013

The Ugly Traveler

I love travel and everything about it — including the goofy, annoying, and frustrating things that inevitably happen along the way. These are all part of the adventure of travel. After almost 80 trips around the world, hundreds of flights, and too many hours to count spent in airports all over the world, I have learned a lot about the ugly traveler.

The ugly traveler is generally easy to spot and can hail from any country on the planet. Those who travel frequently have likely met the ugly traveler or one of his kinfolk. One thing is certain — all of the members of this family of travelers share some common and unmistakable characteristics. It’s easy to let them get under your skin and diminish your travel experience. I prefer to not let that happen.

So, what do I do when I encounter the ugly traveler? Rather than try to inform or reform them, which generally will do little good, I try to find a little humor in the encounter. What follows are not the things I have actually said to the ugly traveler, but instead some of the things I have thought to myself. I offer them here in the spirit of good humor.

On Queues
Of course I don’t mind that you cut in line in front of me and the forty-seven other people behind me who have been patiently waiting their turn for the past hour. You obviously discerned that we are all proletarians by the dirt under our fingernails. But now that I see you are holding a special boarding pass issued by the Queen of Sheba herself, how fortunate I am that you cut in line in front of me. This day is shaping up to be so much better than I expected. May I polish your shoes while we wait in line?

On Wealth
Oh, don’t be silly. Of course I don’t mind that you charged me more than twice as much as everybody else. You must have noticed that I am an American. And in spite of what you may have heard, (whisper) we really do grow money on trees. In fact, I have two of them in my backyard. I planted them near my bottomless well. So, please don’t give it another thought. I’ll just reach into my extra suitcase, the one I carry my excess money in, and pay whatever you ask.

On Cell Phones
Of course I don’t mind that you think a cell phone is a megaphone. I actually enjoyed listening in on your conversation. So did the other 148 people seated near us while waiting to board our flight. I only wish you had spoken just a little bit louder so the other 118 passengers seated farther away could have listened in as well. I think it’s amazing that you single-handedly pulled your company out of the financial toilet while dealing with your family crisis. How much time did you say the judge gave your brother for attempted murder? Oh, and by the way, what is the name of your interesting ringtone?

On Overhead Bins
Of course I don’t mind that you grabbed my bag and carelessly tossed it in the bin three rows behind my seat. After all, I have just one little 7kg bag and you need a convenient place closer to your seat for your 20kg bag and those three bulging Duty Free bags filled with stuff that you are taking home to give to 47 of your closest relatives. And please don’t worry if you damaged the electronic equipment in my bag. When I get home I will just pick a few leaves from my money tree to replace anything that you might have damaged.

On Airline Toilets
Of course I don’t mind that you walked right up and in to the toilet I have been waiting to use for the past ten minutes. Please don’t give it another thought. Noooo … I was not hopping up and down on one leg because I needed to use the toilet. I am rehearsing for my upcoming River Dance audition and have to take advantage of every minute to practice. Besides that, I have a bigger bladder than you. I don’t mean to brag but I used some of my excess money last month to have bladder enhancement surgery. So, you go ahead. I can wait until the day after tomorrow to go tee-tee.

On Seat Mates
Of course I don’t mind you sitting that close to me. Honestly, I have never sat this close to a science experiment before. Tell me again how long it’s been since you bathed. Really? I would have guessed just a bit longer than that. Did the pilot announce that this flight is 15 or 16 hours long? Really? No, I really don’t mind if you take off your shoes. After all feet need to breathe too. As a matter of fact, I guess I will also have to take another breath sooner or later.

On Landing
Of course I agree with you. That rude flight attendant had no right to bark at you because you unbuckled your seat belt and got up before the plane had come to a complete stop. For crying out loud, she must be blind. The rest of us can see that you have amazingly good balance for someone your age. Besides that, doesn’t she realize that you need a head start to unpack all that stuff you wedged in to the overhead bin. Just take your time. I really don’t mind. After all, I have to wait until the 214 people behind me clear the aisles so that I can walk toward the back of the plane to find my little 7kg bag. You remember, the one that you kindly moved for me.

On Luggage Carousels
Oh, hello. It’s you again. Of course I’m ok. I don’t think you actually broke the bone in my leg when you carelessly rammed your luggage cart into me. And the bleeding should stop soon. I am blessed with blood that coagulates really fast. How many bags did you say you checked in? Wow, then it’s probably a good thing that I only checked one bag. Are you sure you can get those five big bundles plus the box with the flat screen TV on to one cart. If not, then I am more than happy to limp over and get you another cart on my way to the Nothing To Declare lane.

I am indebted to the ugly travelers I have met along my journeys for all that they have taught me about travel. I believe that we can always learn good lessons from bad examples. And, as a result, I am determined to do all that I can to keep from being adopted into this quirky family of travelers. Hope to see you on one of my trips. You will easily recognize me as the guy practicing his River Dance routine next to the toilet.


  1. ON SEATMATE: I can relate. 16 hours from Dubai to Houston this person
    smelled so bad and they weren’t even next to me!

    ON AIRLINE TOILETS: The image of you and River Dance made me laugh out loud!

    • As much as I travel it makes no sense to get upset about stuff like this. I’d much rather laugh about it and find something redeemable in the experience. And, yes, you definitely don’t want to see me doing any kind of dancing. That would be ugly!

  2. Laughed out loud at this….a fun look at what could, sometimes, really tick you off.

    • Thanks, Kay. Laughter is a great release valve while traveling.

  3. Who knew that about 1/2 of my neighbors also travel at the same time you do? People: can’t live with ’em, wouldn’t be happy without ’em! Thanks for the “oh so true” humor.

    • Your words remind me of that old Charlie Brown quote: “I love humanity. It’s people I can’t stand.” We gotta’ love people, too! No matter what! Thanks for commenting.

  4. When you begin to refer to the weight of your luggage in kg….you clearly are a seasoned traveler! Hahaha!

    • Had not thought of that. Cool insight. 😉

  5. Very funny post…probably because it is so real! It’s a relief to see those in full time ministry “be” human and not spiritualize everything. However, I don’t think that even you could spiritualize doing the River Dance while waiting for the bathroom. Thanks for the laugh.

    • Thanks, Leah. I’m glad that even those of us in ministry can use humor and laughter to mitigate frustration. Laughter is a wonderful gift from God.

  6. Excellent comments, Omar, thanks for the funny.

    • Thanks, Gil. Sometimes you just gotta laugh to keep your sanity.

  7. I’d be interested to see a humorist comment on what our friend had in his see through carry on during our flight from Moran to UB.

    • That was quite an adventure we shared to northern Mongolia. I will never forget how cold it was as we headed out in those Russian jeeps toward the Mongolian-Siberian border. Truly the adventure of a lifetime.

  8. Oh so true! But these days, it’s not just the travelling that provides these “encounters”.

    • That’s right, Carol. The ugly traveler disease can be found in and out of airports and on and off airplanes. Makes life interesting and challenging at all times and in all places. 😉

  9. That was great comedy. You had me laughing out loud over here….lol
    I’m going to try that approach on things that would normally make me frown….People will look at me and wonder whats so funny! Thanks Omar!

    • Thanks, John. It was a fun post to write. Thank God for giving us laughter.

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