An illustrated encyclopedia of people you meet on vacation
You didn’t invite them, but you’re about to get acquainted
You’re getting lost in the scenery of Tokyo, walking through streets and weaving between skyscrapers when bam! — you run into another tourist. You’re ripped out of your “Lost in Translation” moment, reminded that you’re not the only person on vacation — not by a long shot. In a flash, the reality returns that you’re just one of millions.
Unless you’re renting out a private island or backpacking in the wilderness, vacations come with other people. If you’re lucky, those other travelers match your energy, add to the charm of your trip — or at least sort of blend in with the scenery. Or they become the villains of your travel stories, talking your ear off or blocking your view.
Love them or hate them, these are the people you’ll meet on vacation.
Did we miss someone? Tell us in the comments.
[The illustrated encyclopedia of sleeping positions on a plane]
The Carpe Diem
These people are technically on vacation, but they’re not sleeping in. They’re down at the pool at 7 a.m., seizing the day while you’re snoozing in bed. By the time you drag yourself to the breakfast buffet, they’re halfway through their beach read.
The Team Manager
Too many teenagers, not enough adults. The math’s off, but there’s nothing you can do about it. If it’s a sports team, you’re lucky they’ll be in bed early and out the door early for games. For anything else, pray the gaggle of youths stay glued to TikTok instead of roasting your cheugy vacation ensemble.
They’re here for the likes, with ring lights and selfie sticks inside their matching luggage sets. It’s necessary gear to make their “vacation” look “perfect.” Whatever they can’t stage (an empty beach, an idyllic sky), they’ll Photoshop later. They didn’t pay for their hotel room, and they’re certainly not paying for their dinner; that’s all comped. Their follower count is their meal ticket.
This traveler is hellbent on finagling an upgrade at the front desk. They want a bigger room, a table with a view, a rental car with leather seats. What they don’t want is to pay extra. They’ll chase their goal with different strategies, from laying it on thick to raging with entitled demands.
You’re sipping a mai tai; they’re ripping shots. Bachelor parties, “Woo Girls,” frat reunions, these groups tear through hotel lobbies and rooftop bars like booze-soaked tornadoes. Portable speakers blaring music from their accommodations signal the pregaming has begun. In 30 minutes, they’ll be taking over the nearest pool, golf course or ghost tour.
Impossible to miss, these people are single-handedly keeping the embroidery business alive with their Mr. and Mrs. hats, T-shirts, jean jackets, totes, towels and swimsuits.
The ‘Why Are You Even Here?’
The room is small. The food is cold. The staff is rude. These people live to complain. Think Shane from “White Lotus” Season 1. You’ll hear them complaining that they can’t get things they can get at home, asking for managers and leaving nasty reviews online. Don’t try to cheer them up — they’re here to be miserable.
The High Roller
Blink and you’ll miss them slipping cash to the bell hop, cabana crew and anyone else wearing a name tag. Maybe they’re greasing palms, or maybe they’re just generous. They think the staff is their best friend, but spoiler alert: It’s because you’re paying them.
These people are not actual tour guides or hired by the hotel. They’re civilians giving you tips and insights like they own a place — whether you asked or not. They’ve been here two days, but have established themselves mayor of the pool, guardian of the hotel lobby and master of local customs. Take their advice with caution.
You just caught them straight-up stealing — sort of. These travelers won’t face charges for raiding the housekeeping cart for mini toiletries or swooping on your obviously claimed pool chair.
These travelers of a certain age are having a fabulous time enjoying the fruits of their labor. They’re up for any dance floor and walking tour, armed with sensible shoes for the occasion.
The Family Reunion
Multiple generations, one T-shirt. It’s easy to spot families on vacation when all 17 members are wearing something customized from Zazzle.
The Business Dad
Sure, they’re travelers, but they’re not here for a vacation. The laptops, ear pods and incessant phone calls give away that their trip is for business, not pleasure, whether you’re crossing paths in Tahiti or Tampa.
The Bon Vivant
A la Anthony Bourdain and Stanley Tucci, eating and drinking well is the priority of their vacation. They’ve done their homework and mapped out the best places to eat. Between meals, they’ll tell you the crowning achievement of their trip was securing an impossible-to-get reservation at the hottest restaurant in town.
The Gift Shop
They’re commemorating the trip before the trip is over, sporting “I ❤️ New York” hats in New York and Eiffel Tower tanks in Paris. It’s a mystery whether they bought the merch before they got here or right after they arrived.
The People from Ohio
From the tips of the Himalayas to the depths of the Great Barrier Reef, you will always run into someone from the Buckeye State.