20 Awkward Moments Americans All Face When Traveling

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Travel is the most fun adventure. There is nothing as much fun as travel, especially when it’s to a place you’ve never been or one you love so much. You gain so much culture and experience traveling, but there are some seriously awkward moments we all face when we are somewhere we’ve never been, or we’re going somewhere we’ve never been. It happens to all of us – and a few of these have happened to me in the past. So here are a few of the most awkward things that ever happen when you’re traveling (but don’t let them stop you from going somewhere amazing).

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When the People on the Next Balcony are….Engaging

How about taking a vacation every year with a group of four other couples and the kids are not invited for one long, glorious weekend? It’s what we do with our group, and it’s never more awkward that the times in which our room is always connected to one particular couple who likes to leave their balcony door open so that we are forced to shut ours and vacate our room so we don’t have to listen to them get busy. We could leave it alone, but we’re not that nice. Instead, we like to tell them that they have pretty private voices when we’re all sitting down for dinner. It’s more fun that way.

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When you Forget to Lock the Airplane Bathroom Door

It happens, and it happens to everyone at least once. You get into that tight little bathroom and you realize that you didn’t move the lock all the way over and the next thing you know you are hovering over a public toilet while everyone in line as well as the last few rows of the flight are staring at your naked behind struggling to hover. The person holding the door open is apologizing profusely yet not actually shutting the door and you’re just….there. It’s all right. We all have the same parts or have seen the same parts.

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Talking to Strangers on Cruises Every Single Meal

Cruising is not my favorite vacation unless it’s a big group cruise. Even on the nicest ships in the most expensive rooms, you’re still not getting anything upscale. And you’re forced to sit with strangers at every dinner unless you’re lucky enough to get a table for two – and you’re not always. And that means you have to make small talk with people on the ship, and that’s just plain annoying. You didn’t come to make friends. Well, I don’t, anyway.

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Taking Kids on a Plane

Every single time my husband and I take our kids on a flight, we are terrified and nervous. People stare, they give you dirty looks and you have to do whatever is in your power not to point out that they’re not perfect, either. But you know what? Our kids are mostly excellent on flights and the few times they might cry for a few minutes is just something we’ve learned to get over. If you don’t want to fly with my kids – or anyone else’s kids – get yourself a private plane so you can dictate with whom you travel. There, I said it.

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When your Card is Declined

This has happened to us so many times (thanks Amex) when we forget to call because we’re traveling. Even if we are not traveling internationally, our company sometimes declines our card in the middle of a nice dinner at an expensive restaurant and flags it as a fraudulent charge. It’s so embarrassing, even when you hand over another card or use cash to pay for your meal. And then you have to call the card company and tell them to knock it off and stop messing with your payment options. Awkward.

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When you Can’t Understand People

Fortunately for me, this is an everyday occurrence so I’m not longer feeling so awkward about it. When we travel internationally, though, I’m so confused. Not only do I not know the language, I can’t understand accents. I’m from Florida and I have a difficult time understanding people in North Carolina when we visit, and forget it in Texas when we’re there to see my grandmother. They might as well be speaking French.

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When you Fall Asleep and Snore on a Plane

I don’t snore, so this would never happen to me and I don’t care what my husband says otherwise. He’s clearly delusional. However, it’s always a little bit awkward when the person next to you falls asleep and snores and you’re not sure what to do to make them shut up. If you were home and that was your spouse snoring, you’d just kick him and tell him to shut it. Tragically, however, that behavior is frowned upon by airlines and you’ll probably get into some sort of legal trouble.

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Clogging a Hotel Toilet

Oh yeah, it happens. When our 4-year-old was first working on her potty training skills a few years back, she went potty and used what seemed like an entire roll of toilet paper. We had to call the front desk and ask for assistance, and there is no way to not sound awkward and a little bit disgusting carrying on that conversation. “Hi, our toilet is clogged,” and you just know what’s going through their minds even though you’re assuring them it was your child.

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Clogging a Friend or Relative’s Toilet

If anything could be worse than clogging a hotel toilet, it’s doing the same thing at someone’s house when you’re traveling. There should be some sort of universal rule that you have to have a plunger in every single bathroom of every single house no matter what, because things get weird otherwise. And it’s just not really going to get any better, either.

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Forgetting the “Do Not Disturb” Sign on the Door

You have to remember this when you are showering or in bed or sleeping in, otherwise someone is going to knock. If you don’t hear the knock, someone is going to walk in. And let me just assure you that there is nothing more disturbing than walking – nude – out of the bathroom at the same moment that the maid is coming through the door to make your bed. It’s just not a happy moment, even though I’m sure it happens to them all the time.

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You Get Lost

Nothing is more annoying than getting lost and realizing that your navigation has no signal. And it’s even more annoying when you’re somewhere in which no one speaks your language and you have no idea how to ask for directions. It’s awkward stopping and trying to draw your question out as if you’re speaking to a toddler when you’re speaking to someone just as intelligent as you, but there’s such a language barrier.

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You Pack all the Wrong Stuff

This is precisely why I overpack all the time. My husband and I spent our 8th wedding anniversary two years ago next week in the Outer Banks of North Carolina and in an effort not to have to drag forty bags through the airport, I packed light. It’s mid-May, it’s the beach. It’s warm. Nope; not even close. We had to go shopping and get warm clothes since the weather never made it out of the rainy 60s. To us Floridians, the 60s is the dead of winter, so that was slightly uncomfortable and annoying.

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Knowing Everyone Seated at the Back of the Plane is Staring at your Behind in Line

You have to use the bathroom, but you have to stand in line and your behind is in the face of the person sitting in the seat where you are standing. They know it, you know it. It’s just awkward. There is that moment in which you wonder if they’re admiring the view or wishing you’d get it out of their face. And then you realize you’re hoping a stranger thinks you have a great behind and you feel kind of weird. When the person sitting there is a kid – particularly a preteen or teen boy – it’s even more awkward.

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When your Tampon Doesn’t Cut it in Flight

It’s a bit TMI, but it does happen – and I can say that with certainty. It’s happened, and it’s embarrassing and awkward and even more so when your toddler is wondering why your bottom is bleeding and if you’re hurt – at the top of her wondering little lungs. And naturally, you have a diaper bag filled with clothes for them, but nothing for you. Oh, and you’re not wearing black, either. You’re wearing a minty green maxi dress that was, pre-flight, totally adorable.

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When Your Kid Leaks Through her Diaper and You have Nothing Else to Wear

Remember that one time we were flying home from California with our then only-child when she was just about a year old, and she peed right through her diaper and all over my husband’s polo and lap and he had nothing to change into because we check everything? Yes, that happened. And it looked like he wet his pants after our little darling got her new outfit on from that overstuffed diaper bag. The moral of the last two stories; pack extra clothes as carry-on items for the whole family. You need them.

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When Your Kid Talks Loudly about Personal Things

Sometimes kids like to carry on very loud conversations because they’re kids and apparently they are deaf. Or they think that all people find them fascinating and worthy of a great conversation and they don’t want anyone within 300 yards to miss what they have to say. Like that one time the kid in front of us had a little gas and then loudly started blaming it on his mortified mother. It was hilarious to us, but so very awkward for her. You kind of just want to pat her on the shoulder and tell her that you get it, you know, you also have kids and you know it wasn’t her. It happens all the time.

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Needing to Use the Bathroom a Half Dozen Times by Climbing Over a Stranger

I like the aisle seat when I have to get up for something, but I hate it when someone else has to get up for something. In fact, I get annoyed when my husband wants to climb over me to use the bathroom (because you better believe he gets stuck in the middle). But when you’re inside and you have just one too many glasses of bad airplane wine and you have to go to the bathroom once and then break the seal, and someone has to be climbed over repeatedly…it’s awkward.

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The First Time you Use a Bidet

No matter who you are, the first time you use one of these in your hotel room, it’s awkward. The good news is that you’re usually alone and this is a private matter. But it still counts as totally awkward because you definitely don’t know what’s happening to you at the moment. And sometimes you wonder if you’re supposed to like it, or hate it or think it’s totally awkward in so many ways.

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Sniffling or Sneezing on a Plane and Everyone Thinks you Have Something Contagious

That one time you suffer from allergies on a plane and you sneeze, the people next to you start giving you death glares the rest of the flight. You just have a bit of a cat allergy and the person next to you is covered in cat hair, but no, you suddenly have some sort of horrifying disease that you brought from the tropical area of Tampa onto a flight so you can contaminate everyone on board. Or so they want to think. Their precious kitty would never make you sick.

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The Full Body Pat-Down

As if it’s not bad enough to have a total stranger fondling you in the middle of an airport, it’s totally more awkward when everyone and their mother is actually watching as it happens. It’s never fun, and sometimes you get someone who seems to enjoy this a bit too much. No matter what, the full body check is just never fun. Especially when you know they’re wondering if you’re a grown woman of almost 32 or a preteen boy.

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2 thoughts on “20 Awkward Moments Americans All Face When Traveling”

  1. You don’t have to sit with strangers at every cruise dinner. Boycott the main dining room (except for the night when you’re invited to the captain’s table) and take advantage of the many buffets and burger/pizza bars around the ship. You can sit where you like and with whom, and also get a much greater variety of food, healthy choices or otherwise.

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