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The 2019 Travel Hall of Infamy Awards

Globe and Mail

This year saw a bumper crop of travellers exploring the world without a shred of common sense. From riot-triggering clowns to port-a-potty parking woes––not to mention a well-aimed kick from a wild horse––John Lee dishes out the honours to 2019’s horrible holidaymakers in our 35th annual Travel Hall of Infamy Awards.


The Pants-Free Passenger Award

…goes to the overly laid-back Air France flyer who wanted to be as comfy as possible on his 12-hour Paris-to-Los Angeles jaunt. According to fellow traveller Lizzie Thompson––who posted photos and incredulous comments on social media––the long-haul flight felt even longer for everyone else on board after the man removed his socks and trousers and began strolling around the cabin in his boxer shorts. Attendants seemed unconcerned by the half-naked holidaymaker, says Thompson, who noted that he was chilly enough to cover his top half with a jacket while still keeping his pants off for more than half the flight. 


The Not-So-Instant Coffee Award

…goes to the two German visitors in Venice who attempted to sidestep the city’s reportedly pricey espressos by bringing their own camp stove with them. But rather than discreetly brewing up in a cobbled back alley, the tight-fisted duo set-up their java-making paraphernalia on the steps of the Rialto Bridge, a 400-year-old landmark spanning the Grand Canal. An outraged local (probably more of a tea drinker) informed the police about their steamy shenanigans and––according to the New York Times––the pair was fined 950 euros (around $1,400). That first cup of the day will never taste the same again.


The Disney Dope Award

…goes to the Swiss tourist who aimed to freak up his Disneyland Paris visit with a spot of LSD (although riding It’s a Small World is just as trippy). As the hallucinogen kicked in, he stripped off, jumped into Captain Hook’s lake and promptly disappeared. With the park closing for the night and Tinkerbelle’s pixie-dust rescue services unavailable, his frantic girlfriend was forced to alert authorities. Divers, firefighters and dozens of singing chipmunks were swiftly dispatched, with the naked man eventually found staggering along a nearby country road. Arrests, charges and a three-week visit to the naughty step ensued.


The Let Them Eat Cake Award

…goes to Russian actor Lidiya Velezheva who lost the plot when her Moscow to Tel Aviv flight was slightly delayed. Prior to the plane’s rescheduled takeoff, rather than sipping an extra glass of business class champagne, her Lady Macbeth-sized ego suddenly burst forth with a raging thespian meltdown. Passenger videos show her declaiming, “I’m an actress and you are a pleb,” and the equally charming “You probably bought the ticket with miles and I paid 204,000 rubles [approximately $5,000].” Velezheva––whose movies include the clairvoyantly titled Idiot––was swiftly dragged from her seat by officers, who may or may not have requested autographs.


The Bruised Baubles Award

...goes to the Speedo-clad tourist on Maryland’s Assateague Island beach who ignored multiple warning signs about petting the wild horses that live in the protected park area. A bystander’s video shows the carefree stroller walking among relaxed sunbathers before reaching out to pat the well-muscled behind of a handsome feral equine. In a lightening fast reaction rarely seen outside nature, a sharp hoof is rapidly dispatched into the man’s tender nether regions, sending him sprawling across the sand and ruing the fact that he’d forgotten to pack his armour-plated codpiece for this particular trip.


The Build Your Own Balcony Award

…goes to the Phuket visitor from Estonia who enjoyed an evening of fine wines and philosophical debate (probably) before returning to his holiday apartment with his equally refined roommate. Loosening his cravat (perhaps), he suddenly remembered he’d always wanted to sleep under the stars. Next morning, locals posted photos of a grubby mattress precariously balanced on the building’s sagging awning, complete with a shorts-clad snoozer blearily sprawled on top of it. Police officers awakened the snoring sophisticate, reminded him he’d thrown his mattress out the window and charged him with drunkenness and property damage.


The Absent-Minded Packing Award

…goes to the New York-bound couple at Manchester Airport who were pulled aside after sending their carry-on bag through the security scanner. But rather than being read the riot act for smuggling an oversized shampoo bottle, the perplexed pair were reunited with their cat, Candy, who had successfully completed her feline mission: sneaking into a confined space, curling up in a corner and falling asleep. Describing the staff as “awesome,” the couple arranged for friends to pick up the whisker-twitching stowaway before resuming their trip. As for Candy, she’s expecting a suitcase full of Friskies Party Mix treats when they return.


The Like Me Like My Rash Award

…goes to the Instagrammers at Spain’s Monte Neme––a striking body of turquoise water ringed by rocky crags––who couldn’t wait to wow their followers with shots of themselves cavorting in the preternaturally-hued pool. Unfortunately, the glowing pond is actually filled with hazardous chemical waste from a decommissioned tungsten mine. But, according to news outlet Publico, that didn't dissuade rabid influencers from snapping their scenic swims––including one who was hospitalized and another who reported vomiting and skin irritation. Still, the photos look great––except the ones with weeping sores.


The Overly Crunchy Pastries Award

…goes to the not-so-sweet-toothed airline passenger from Cairo who approached Berlin airport security with a boxful of cakes artfully shaped like tortoises. Clearly visible through the package’s plastic window, the traveller explained that his tasty-looking treats were made of chocolate. But rather than asking him to bite into one, eagle-eyed officers confiscated the confections––or rather the live tortoises they in fact were––and handed them to the airport’s vet. The upside? The endangered reptiles were rescued and the wannabe tortoise rustler faces a possible five-year prison stretch, where the cakes will likely be far less fancy.


The Bloody Red Nose Award

…goes to the Norway cruise-shippers who concluded a daylong drinking binge with a late-night gathering in an upper deck restaurant. But rather than soaking up their pilsners with food, one of them became suddenly enraged by a fellow passenger dressed as a clown––after specifically booking a cruise without any fancy dress elements. Naturally, a violent mass brawl ensued with plates, furniture and presumably custard pies deployed as weapons. “There was blood everywhere,” Tweeted one terrified onlooker. The Pagliacci-bashing pugilists were eventually rounded up and locked in their cabins, where they were hopefully forced to watch repeated screenings of Stephen King’s It.


The Tentacles of Doom Award

…goes to the critter-loving Australian beach visitor who posted a short social media video of himself cooing at a tiny, beautifully-patterned octopus he was holding in his hand. Instead of filling his comments section with admiring responses, however, in-the-know nature nuts pointed out that the blue-ringed octopus––for that was its name––is one of the world’s most deadly marine animals, reportedly carrying enough venom to kill 26 adults in a matter minutes. The eight-legged poison-packer just couldn't be bothered today, though, generously allowing itself to be returned to the water without a single human fatality.


The Beer Goggles Award

…goes to UK holidaymaker Martin Walsh who––surprise surprise––spent the afternoon drinking alongside Italy’s Lake Garda before announcing to his equally tipsy buddies that he was fully ready to swim across. He wasn’t an idiot though: for added buoyancy, he fashioned a flotation device from two flip-flops before easing into a lake that only trained athletes usually tackle. All went well for the first nine minutes but a few seconds later his pals stopped cheering when he suddenly disappeared. A helicopter and two boats were dispatched to pluck the fake Phelps from the choppy waters, with one rescuer telling The Sun newspaper that Walsh’s escapade was “very stupid.”


The Caught Short Calamity Award

…goes to the pickup driver on a steep road near Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park, who pulled over at a bathroom-equipped rest stop to answer that essential call of nature. Unfortunately, the pee-based pit stop didn't quite go according to plan. Video from a car behind shows the driver suddenly bursting from the port-a-potty, pulling up his pants and sprinting towards his vehicle––just as it rolls backwards across the road and tumbles down a near-vertical cliff. The truck was empty, which was little consolation to the hand-break halfwit who likely returned to the washroom for a well-earned sob.


The All-Round Charmers Award

…goes to the 12-member multigenerational UK family who spent weeks tearing up the rulebook of good tourist behavior on their jolly New Zealand jaunt. Locals took to social media to report the loud-mouthed layabouts travelling around like an amoebic crime wave, with allegations of shoplifting, beach littering, drunken brawling and running out on restaurant bills hitting newspapers almost daily––along with an image of one of their youngest flipping the bird to reporters like a good ‘un. Sadly, the lively cultural exchange was cut short when immigration authorities issued a deportation notice, returning the ever-courteous clan from whence they came.


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