World Travel

Not a clue: the world's worst travellers

We all have our problems while on the road, whether it's making the odd cultural faux pas, taking a wrong turn or feeling a little ill after eating the local food. But some idiots are put on this earth to make the rest of us feel a lot, lot better.

We've tracked down six of the world's worst travellers — you're best advised not to try copying them.

Mark Gower

This fantasist Web entrepreneur decided he would make a stand for world peace in 2008 by walking from Bristol in the UK to Gandhi's birthplace in India.

As part of his noble quest, Gower insisted he would do so without a penny to his name, relying on the goodwill and hospitality of others.

He expected to be on the road for two-and-a-half years, but lasted less than a month. His failure came as soon as he left England; Gower had to turn back at Calais in France following language barrier and food problems.

After struggling to find any vegan food in this strange inhospitable land, he soon realised that not being able to speak French was a bit of a problem, too. His attempts to explain his mission fell on deaf ears — and, more than likely, Gallic shrugs.

Tobi Gutt

Being able to spell isn't necessarily a prerequisite for jetting off around the world, but some typos can be a little more costly than others. German Tobi Gutt, 21, discovered this in December 2006, when he set off for Sydney, Australia, in order to meet his girlfriend. The usual connections of Singapore, Bangkok or Hong Kong were not for Gutt, however — his flight connected in Portland, Oregon, and Billings, Montana in the US.

The somewhat maverick route was down to the gormless German making a tiny error in his online booking; he had bought a return ticket to the oil town of Sidney, Montana.

The online oaf realised what had happened when he got to Billings, then had to spend three days in the frozen American north, with only a thin jacket for warmth. Gutt was eventually bailed out by his family, who wired him the necessary money to get to the Sydney he originally had in mind.

Marko Kulju

The worst that can happen with most attempts to get a souvenir is usually widespread ridicule or a slight wallet hit. But Marko Kulju found himself facing a 8.6 million Chilean peso ($18,715) fine and seven years in jail after deciding that an "I Heart Easter Island" T-shirt wouldn't quite do to the trick.

The dim Finn decided to break off an ear from one of the island's famous moai (giant statues facing the Pacific Ocean). But it didn't quite go to plan. The ear broke off and smashed on the ground, and Kulju was identified by a local woman as he tried to slink off sheepishly.

He was then arrested and told that the local police take defacing the South Pacific's most famous icons rather seriously. Kulju eventually got off lightly; he was fined $17,000 and banned from Easter Island for three years.

Fabrizio Salvini

Airport staff isn't renowned for its cheery good humour at the best of times, so making jokes about security isn't exactly a brilliant idea. But there are jokes about security and then there's Fabrizio Salvini's neat one-liners. After being asked to empty his pockets at the airport in Manila, the Philippines, Salvini decided to test out his stand-up comedy routine.

"I have three nuclear bombs in my pocket and I belong to the group of Bin Laden," quipped the middle-aged Italian.

Unsurprisingly, his next conversation was with burly policemen then he found himself sweating in front of a judge in a Filipino courtroom.

Glenn Crawley

Dubbed "Captain Calamity" by the British press, retired electrician Crawley was banned from his local Cornwall harbour after repeatedly capsizing his catamaran. Crawley insisted on trying to head off on solo voyages on a vessel designed to be sailed by two, and had to be rescued at least 13 times.

Once the total bill for rescuing the silly sailor had crept above £30,000 ($60,000) by April 2008, Newquay's harbourmaster decided that enough was enough. New rules were drawn up, and it was promised that Crawley's boat would be confiscated if he ever tried to set sail in it again.

Captain Calamity's most spectacular performance came in 2007, when he had to be rescued four times within the space of four hours.

Thomas Strong

There are many ways to endear yourself to locals, but Thomas Strong's method is probably not recommended.

While in Turkey in August 2009, the British teenager decided it would be a brilliant idea to drop his trousers in front of a statue. Waving his bits around and embarking on a swearing fit, Strong continued until offended local boatmen called the police.

Unfortunately for him, the statue was of modern Turkey's founder, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. Insulting Atatürk is an imprisonable offence in Turkey, and Strong was mightily lucky when he was hauled up in front of the court: he was merely deported and prevented from coming back to Turkey for five years.

Got any more stories of travelling muppetry? Share them with us using the comments form below.

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User comments
I work in the travel industry, and was called up once by an American lady who was staying a few days in Barcelona, and wanted to know how she should check into her apartment. I told her to call the checkin number when she arrived, and someone would proceed to meet her at the apartment. "How do I call the number?", She asks "Just dial the whole number, it includes the country and area code" "Where should I call from?" "Er- you can call from a payphone" "And where are the payphones?" "There are payphones all over the place" "How do you use the payphones?" "Well, you put the money in and then dial the number" "How much should I put in the payphone?" "Er, 50 cents should be enough" "50 cents? I can use American money?" "No, you must use Euros" "But you said put in cents" "Yes, Euros are divided into cents" "How many cents are there in a Euro?" "One hundred" "And where can I get these Euro cents?" "Look, do you have a mobile? just call from that." "My, this seems all so complicated!"
Tourists are not stupid... PEOPLE are stupid... its the individual.
It was back in 2006 when i was traveling with my family around the US, we arrived in Atlanta, Georgia. It's such a great place and there are alot of things to check out, anyways it was on my first day after we settled into the hotel that after a short nap i was to meet my brother in the foyer. I didn't know much about the hotel so i walked to the reception near the entrance of the building and asked one of the workers where the foyer was and his reply to me was we dont have one, this was strange to me as every large hotel had a foyer so i asked someone else and they didnt understand me, after about 15 minutes of blank faces i walked back to the reception and asked in an "AMERICAN" accent "wheres the foyer" and the guy responds to me "oh just follow the hallway down and take your 3rd left and you'll see the foyer" i have not been more shocked and confused then that time, lol. Some americans are smart but i think they are only interested in what happens in there country
Try using a compass, moron
Scully Adelaide you are correct. Since when do Australians think they are so smart? they are no better than the Americans they constantly criticize. Just shut up, bogans!
I have travelled a bit and have seen a quite a few dumb and or arrogant tourists. The nationality doesnt matter, bad tourists are bad tourists. Americans, Aussies, English, French doesnt matter. My take on the whole thing is some tourists dont have a sense of humour. Some tourists dont leave their respective countries at home. Some dont want live like the locals
this is for scully... Look mate, when you work at a major tourist park, and have seen as much as I have, you tend to become just a bit judgemental of tourists. Not only foreign visitors, but people from interstate as well. I'm just saying, we're not all arrogant. A lot of our criticism comes from observations. And another thing, when I visit another country, I try to learn as much about local customs as I can.
Oh come on now. I've met plenty of wonderful aussie travelers, but unfortunatley nearly as many that were falling down drunk and hostile to the natives. I've been to several ANZAC day commemerations and the behavior of some from down under made me happy to be able to speak turkish and not have to be mistaken for an Aussie. Every country has some percentage of ignorant, uncouth travelers. We're no worse than most others- but I will say our schools don't teach any geography.
when I was 10, I was on my first overnight school trip to sydney. We were at the darling harbour looking around and I fell to the back of the group looking at the water. Next thing I know, some japanese tourists had gathered me into there group and were asking "photo! photo!" after taking some photos they left me and I ran back to my group, pretty freaked out. They were sweet and all but seriously? good way to freak a kid out.
The story above outlining the whingeing American tourist reminds me of an incident I had with one years ago ... American woman and (clearly embarrassed and long suffering) husband arrived at my tourist bureau and stated they wanted to travel from the Gold Coast to Melbourne. "Ok, not a problem, I can book that for you Ma'am" I said with a smile. "Would you like to go by interstate coach or train?" she asked for coach option, BUT demanded that, as she didn't like road travel at night, they needed an express trip to get them there in daylight hours! I said without breaking the trip with an overnight stay in Sydney, no way could that be done. Long and short she argued with me for almost an hour, telling me I didn't know my job, or my country and why they hell did "I" have to make things so hard for her!. I ended up talking her into a night in Sydney and was glad to see the end of her. Much head shaking and laughing from 12 or so other tourists listening in. Idiots!!