Craziest Travel Confessions
Working at a hip New York restaurant has its hazards. “Some people are so impatient,” laments a waiter. “One lady poked me in the hand with a fork while I was taking another order because she thought her food was taking too long.”
That restaurant waiter is part of a battalion of professionals tasked with making travelers’ experiences go smoothly, whether it’s a romantic getaway, business trip, or family vacation. Consider the honeymoon planner who books your stay in Bora-Bora; the porter who helps you haul your luggage out of the airport taxi; or the national park guide who fields your questions.
While you might not think twice about the valet you’ve entrusted your $75,000 car to, or the front desk manager you chatted with when you checked in, these people have seen it all—and probably thought twice about you.
We’ve interviewed travel industry professionals to get them to fess up and share their tips, pet peeves, and craziest experiences. They’re the eyes and ears of international travel, and their stories will make your jaw drop—or at least inspire more courtesy and more generous tips.
Confessions of a B&B Host
It’s not just four-posters and fresh-baked scones. As one New England innkeeper reveals, sometimes those two letters stand for Bad and Badder.
We want you to feel at home, but a few guests get way too comfortable. One man came down to breakfast in just his bathrobe. Another family got into a screaming fight at dinner—the wife stormed out.
Some people think they’re staying at a five-star resort and expect gluten-free, vegan meals. You try making a decadent breakfast pastry without eggs, flour, or butter!
Booze intake is more apparent in a small property. One couple was drunk from the moment they checked in; they left their room littered with beer cans. I scrubbed every surface, including the teddy bear on the bed. Poor little guy saw way more than he ever wanted to.
Confessions of an Historical Re-enactor
Hear ye, hear ye! A Boston tour guide loosens his waistcoat—and tells us what it’s really like to work the Freedom Trail.
I wear a cocked hat, breeches, and stockings, so people are always yelling “Hey, Paul Revere!” It’s worse for the girls, who get called Betsy Ross or even (ugh) Little Bo Peep.
Back in the day, walking sticks were very popular with fashionable gentlemen. Fun fact: the amount of heckling I receive every day is reduced considerably when I carry one. I can’t imagine why.
Every once in a while, I have to break character to take a call on my cell phone. But when guests use theirs, I’ll yell “Fie, ye spoilsport! Not sharing your magic gewgaws!”
Confessions of a Front Desk Manager
I like hearing people’s stories, but please, keep it brief. We have a button on the phone that will make it ring to rescue us from a boring conversation.
Not everyone tips, but some tip a lot, so it’s a wash. People have tipped me in marijuana.
And yes, we can hear you when you’re having sex, sometimes even from the lobby. And I can always tell how some people are going to sound.
Confessions of a Flight Attendant
A 20-year airline-industry veteran—who asked to remain anonymous—gives us the lowdown on working in the sky.
People treat the plane like a bathroom. I’ve seen passengers changing their babies’ diapers on the tray table, clipping toenails, and picking their noses.
Instead of the stereotype that we’ve all slept around, now it’s that we’re all old, fat, and mean. But we’re not.
How to get under my skin: push the call button to find out when we’ll land or to ask for beverages before we take off. Basically, you never want to push the call button. Period.
Confessions of a Taxi Driver
John McDonagh has been a cabbie in New York for more than 30 years (and yes, the job is as crazy as you’d think).
I can almost always tell the people that are gonna get sick in my car. Two dudes helping a friend stand? Yeah...I’m not pulling over.
A guy was making out with two girls at once and one got so jealous she jumped out of the moving car. I still got them to Jackson Heights all right.
The worst tippers are from Europe. It’s nothing to do with cheapness; it’s their custom.
New Yorkers are so spoiled. They’ll wait for a table or Broadway tickets. But a taxi? Fuhgeddaboudit.
Confessions of an Aspen Bellman
A veteran porter sheds light on working at a ritzy ski-town resort.
A lot of people assume that we’re good for carrying luggage, and that’s it. But we know as much or more about where to eat and what to do as the front desk or concierge.
Some guests think we’re their personal assistants. They want us to get them groceries, swap their pillows, even drive them to the liquor store and wait for half an hour.
We see the craziest outfits. Last year a middle-aged couple was dressed almost identically in fur boots and fur vests, with head-to-toe fake tans.
Older ladies love to flirt with the bellmen. Usually they’re joking, but hookups do happen. The ratio in Aspen is about five guys to every girl—easy pickings for the cougars.
Confessions of a Waiter
What’s it really like to work at a hip NYC restaurant? A server dishes the dirt.
Some people are so impatient: one lady poked me in the hand with a fork while I was taking another order because she thought her food was taking too long.
Please don’t ask for a more desirable table. I get that you weren’t allowed to sit at the cool table in high school, but it’s only a table. Just sit down.
I’ve never seen a server spit in someone’s food, no matter how much the customer deserves it. It’s just not worth it.
Confessions of a Masseuse
Freda, a therapist at a well-known U.S. destination spa, reveals a few of her own pressure points.
People today just can’t disengage—they even put their cell phone under the face cradle. The world is not going to fall apart in one hour!
If your therapist says she needs to leave the room to get a product, she’s probably going to the bathroom. I once told a client I spilled oil on myself and went outside to throw up.
I’ve seen famous actresses come out of the steam room with long, black rivers of mascara running down their faces. I wish I could take a picture and get rich!
Yes, some men expose themselves to us, but I’ve never had anyone come right out and ask for a “happy ending.” They might just ask us to “massage a little higher” up their leg.
Confessions of a Nature Guide
A Montana-based backcountry tour leader spills the dirt.
In Yellowstone, I was asked: “Where do they keep the animals at night?” And in the Grand Tetons: “What is that white stuff up there?” Um, snow.
People think we’re babysitters. One couple asked me if their child could sleep in the group van, so they could have some privacy!
There’s always a braggart. If we’re looking at a bear, someone will inevitably say, “I once saw an elephant in Africa.” Sigh.
Confessions of a Hotel Reviewer
An undercover inspector reveals the secrets of her stays.
If a guest complains on TripAdvisor, I’m often sent to investigate. I’ve done 500-plus incognito overnights...but it’s no vacation!
I always pack a measuring tape; some companies want me to get nitty-gritty. Is the radius of light from a lamp exactly right? I’m not kidding.
Whining is part of my job description. I’ll freak out that the room smells like smoke, even if it’s daisy-fresh, just to see how staff react.
I even remove batteries from the remote and grumble about the fritzy TV, then time how long it takes to get it fixed. It’s an exacting art.
Confessions of a Cruise-Ship Employee
In his decades on the water, this seafarer has seen it all with passengers—and it’s not always smooth sailing.
People will call us and tell us their stateroom phone isn’t working. It doesn’t make any sense. How are you calling? Oh, right. On the phone.…
One guy jumped in the water while we were cruising, and was actually angry when we fished him out. He was having a blast working on his backstroke.
Some guests specify that they can’t eat gluten, but then request dinner rolls (or cookies!) when they see others eating them. They can’t resist.
In the dining room, our servers take orders on iPods. One lady flipped out because she thought her server was on his cell phone. She was so mad she threw the iPod on the floor!
Confessions of a Honeymoon Planner
We got the scoop from a veteran travel agent specializing in romantic getaways. Turns out the job’s not all champagne and rose petals.
I was working with one couple over e-mail, and they couldn’t agree on anything. They actually ended up breaking up over e-mail—and I was cc’d!
A couple showed up to an appointment to finalize their plans in the Maldives. The bride and I had everything planned; they just had to choose a hotel. When we started discussing it, the groom blurted out, “Wait—I thought we were going to Italy!”
I once had clients come home from Bora-Bora three days early, because they were bored. Bored! In Bora-Bora!
Confessions of a Parking Valet
A car attendant at a high-end Miami hotel and restaurant reveals what actually happens after you hand over the keys.
I’ve parked tons of celebrities’ cars, and it’s shocking how cheap they are. Most never bother to tip. Maybe I’ll get a “thank you.”
People are such slobs—they leave their stuff all over. I’ve seen everything from thongs to sex toys just sitting out on the floor.
Confessions of a Blackjack Dealer
A Vegas veteran lays all her cards on the table—and tells us what it’s really like to work at a hotel casino.
Everyone thinks it takes a math genius to count cards, yet it’s pretty simple—and legal. But because casinos are private property we just ask people to leave if they’re any good at it.
Tipping is a large part of our income, and we have nicknames for the standout players. There are Georges (big tippers), King Kong Georges (really big tippers), and the Strokers—players who don’t tip while making the dealer do extra work. Rude.
Casino surveillance rooms are not as sophisticated as Hollywood makes them out to be. I’ve watched those tapes. They’re so grainy I can’t even see the chips!
Confessions of a Room-Service Waiter
This server at a luxury hotel in Boston delivers the dish.
It’s crazy what you run across in the wee hours—like guests eating off the trays others have left outside their rooms….
A famous author lived in our hotel for a few months, and ordered room service every single meal—for her Yorkies! She demanded we use “French service”—plating the food at the table.
The worst people are the ones who forget to take down their Do Not Disturb signs or those who answer the door naked. That happens more than you’d think!