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The 2022 Travel Hall of Infamy Awards

The Globe and Mail

Vacationing is back and that means terrible tourist behaviour has returned with a vengeance. From cruise ship punch-ups to naked dancing at sacred sites––plus the worst way to react when you spot an elephant––some of us appear to have learned nothing from being grounded over the past couple of years. John Lee rolls his eyes and anoints this year’s bumper crop of horrible holidaymakers in our 38th Travel Hall of Infamy Awards.


The Not So Sneaky Smoker Award

…goes to the Bangkok-bound passenger on an El Al flight from Israel who squeezed into an onboard washroom for a sly cigarette. Within seconds, the toilet smoke alarm sounded––and in a panic, he tossed the offending butt into the tiny trashcan. Unfortunately, the bin was jam-packed with highly combustible tissue paper, igniting a fire that triggered a full-scale scramble from extinguisher-wielding attendants. According to the Jerusalem Post, their rapid response meant the undamaged plane could continue on its route, while the passenger presumably avoided eye contact and chewed nicotine gum for the rest of the flight.


The Queen Of All She Surveys Award

…goes to the over-entitled visitor at the revered Mayan pyramid El Castillo in Mexico’s Yucatán region. Despite a longstanding prohibition on scaling the 25-metre-high monument, she clambered up its ancient staircase for some arms-out-stretched photos, before dancing and waving her hat at the crowd as she grandly returned to terra firma. Documented by the Daily Mail, her descent was met with what she may have thought were cheers, but which was actually an angry crowd shouting “jail, jail, jail” followed by a hail of well-aimed water bottles and a waiting honour guard of security officers.


The Don’t Stop Running Award

…goes to the visitor at South Africa’s Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Game Reserve who spotted a pointy-tusked bull elephant sauntering towards his car on the park’s popular safari trail. Perhaps thinking his Toyota Camry was about to be diced into bite-sized chunks, he did what anyone without an ounce of common sense would do: he opened the door and sprinted into the bush––home to a ravenous population of lions, leopards and hyenas. The puzzled pachyderm soon wandered off and the passenger darted back into his seat, leaving wildlife expert Devon Myers to tell London’s Evening Standard what everyone already knew: “This guy did completely the wrong thing.”


The Forgotten Footlong Award

…goes to Jessica Lee, who bought a Subway sandwich in Singapore’s Changi Airport during a brief stopover on her flight home to Australia. Hungrily scoffing half the hefty hoagie, she stashed the rest for later. Fast-forward to touchdown in Perth and the scatterbrained long-hauler had forgotten all about her crusty repast when it was plucked from her bag by a customs officer––who informed her that the undeclared sarnie would trigger an automatic 2,664 Australian dollar fine (about $2,500 Canadian). After taking to TikTok for a long cry, Subway coughed up a gift card for the same amount––which covers far more Meatball Marinaras than anyone should consume in their lifetime.


The All-You-Can-Punch Cruise Ship Buffet Award

…goes to the 60 Carnival Magic passengers who marked the final night of their hols by hitting the onboard dance floor. According to the New York Post, it wasn’t the only thing they hit. An altercation between two hoofers––perhaps over the correct dance steps for the Macarena––quickly descended into a mass brawl, with dozens of well-lubricated participants piling in for a thick slice of face-thumping pie. The ship roped in the US Coast Guard for help and, once order was restored, the vessel was escorted to port in Manhattan––where the NYPD was on-hand for a serious talk with the sozzled sock-hoppers.


The Cat’s Not Out Of The Bag Award

…goes to the overly curious moggie who startled TSA staff at John F. Kennedy International Airport by appearing on an X-ray security screen––tucked into the corner of a large suitcase. The ginger feline’s unplanned adventure began when he sneaked into the bag of a traveller visiting his owner­­––and they didn’t notice the cat-shaped luggage lump before rushing off to the airport. Staff said the whiskered wanderluster seemed unfazed as they Tweeted images of him reclining in a rescue crate, with a follow-up photo of him enjoying a Thanksgiving feast on his return home.


The Please Just Stay Home Award

…goes to seemingly everyone who visited Italy this year. The home of countless world-renowned heritage sites reported endless calamitous encounters with idiotic tourists over the past 12 months, including the Saudi Arabian vacationer who took his rented Maserati for a marble-smashing drive down Rome’s Spanish Steps; the Mexican pair who pooh-poohed no-fly rules to crash their drone into the Leaning Tower of Pisa; and the American who climbed an out-of-bounds path to the Mount Vesuvius summit, dropped his phone into the crater while taking a selfie and then had to be rescued when he fell in trying to retrieve it.


The Nude Dude Behaving Badly Award

…goes to Canadian Jeffrey Craigen who decided the best way to revere a sacred Bali mountain was to film himself dancing naked on it. Explaining on Instagram––where he labels himself as a mind and body healer––that he was simply “expressing himself,” Indonesian officials had a somewhat different interpretation. In a press release, the Ministry of Law and Human Rights insisted that foreigners must “behave in an orderly manner by respecting the law and Balinese cultural values.” They also ordered the deportation of the prancing willy-waggler, who finally released an apologetic follow-up video via his now overheated Insta-feed.


The Sporting Non-Achievement Award

…goes to Katie Sigmond who aimed to edify her TikTok fans (all seven million of them) with yet another indispensible video. But what could the weighty theme be this time around? Speed-eating spaghetti? Dancing with gerbils? Climbing the Eiffel Tower in neon lederhosen? Nope. It was time to hit a golf ball into the Grand Canyon—with the finale flourish of tossing the club in as well. After the epic appeared online, a swift Facebook response from the national park asked, “Do we really need to say don't hit golf balls into the Grand Canyon?” Apparently they do, since Sigmond was only fined a less-than-grand total of US$285.


The Sitting Down Is Hard To Do Award

…goes to the passenger flying into India’s Kochi airport who did what anyone with an extra bottle of gin or carton of cigarettes would do to fool waiting customs officers: he shoved the contraband up his rectum. But since the cargo was more than a kilo of gold––divided into four portions to make that eye-popping insertion oh-so-easy––his journey was likely as comfortable as an endless long-haul flight with out-of-service washrooms. No word from officers on how they spotted the perp, but a funny walk and mumbled whimpering may have given the game away.


The Foolhardy Fowl Play Award

…goes to the wannabe passenger at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport who tried sneaking his sidearm along on a flight by hiding it in a place he thought no-one would look: a large raw chicken tucked into his checked luggage. According to the local Fox 13 station, TSA agents smelled a rat when they spotted a clear gun-shaped image sliding into view on the scanner (note: chickens are not made of lead), before summoning the poultry botherer to explain himself. The agents later saw the funny side, Tweeting, “We hate to break it to you but stuffing a firearm in your holiday bird is just a baste of time.”

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