Germans are everywhere you go. You would think they’d suffered a diaspora. If Google could just get one in every ten traveling German to wear a camera, Google Earth would have the entire planet correctly mapped (interiors included) in six months.
German Women appear to be actively pursuing not having sex. They are ‘healthy’ in the militant sense. They give the impression they’re prepared for an impromptu trans-siberian march. The girls do attempt to have fun, but in an obligated sense. There’s a reason there are no famous German actors and that David Hasselhoff is a national treasure. Fun should not be obligatory, but they act like it is. Maybe that’s because Germans don’t enjoy having fun. Read that sentence again.
German Men are in perfect control. They pass entire trips not speaking. If they do speak, their sense of humor is reliant on epistemological gags and color variation in bruises. When with women, the men lead them everywhere, but if you watch their dynamic, they never give off the impression they’re banging one of the girls. And that’s because they’re not. German men look better than their women and you (this applies to whatever gender you are reading this).
Advice on Germans: If you see Germans walking in an area you’re unfamiliar with, don’t hesitate to follow them. Marching Germans are going one of two places: some place worth being, or Poland (not worth being).
Retirees are confident you are robbing them, even when you ask them for directions. Or when they ask you for directions. They just assume you’re robbing them.
Punk Backpackers are smug about their lack of formal schooling, because they are more enlightened than you – like way more. You know this because they have dreadlocks. Their packs are seasoned, as evidenced by the number of patch-flags on it, some of which are from places they could never have been to, such as Ethiopia, North Korea and Chelsea Football Club. They wear immensely impractical shoes, with the most serious entirely foregoing shoes in the ultimate, ‘FUCK YOU I’M LOCAL’ gesture. Their sleeves were long ago cut off to better showcase their tattoos, which are indecipherable animals that remind you of that Animorphs series everyone was reading in sixth grade.
Lone Lost Souls are identifiable by the feeling they inspire that you’ve seen them before either playing saxophone in a jazz ensemble or masturbating in the park. You should be aware there is a high probability they are sexual tourists. This is especially true if you are anywhere in Southeast Asia, and not only because of the high instance of child prostitution there, but also because even middle-aged adults there resemble children. And that is awesome if you’re a pervert, or Roman Polanski/Pete Townsend/Woody Allen/Gary Glitter. Disclaimer: The Lone Lost Soul is sometimes just a German man traveling solo.
The Japanese travel in one of three ways, all of which are compact. Regardless of location they will procure a guide who speaks 1) The local language 2) Japanese 3) Your language 4) Another language, and knows all things regarding the topic at hand. It is true the Japanese do not approach anything without a camera, though the stereotype of them all wearing white socks up past their knees is waning, unfortunately. Young Japanese men travel in pairs and are tragically fashionable Asian hipsters, though you always suspect they play Pokemon back at the hotel. Young Japanese girls will travel in pairs if not alone entirely, because some parts of pornography are true to life (and it’s definitely not the parts involving sex), and because none of them have seen Hostel. It remains unconfirmed whether their genitals are all pixilated or not.
Canadians are suddenly patriotic. A recent study found that Canadians are often less ‘Fuck yeah my country’ than other nations (i.e. America). This is odd since were it not for my personal experiences traveling, I would have remained unaware sweatshirts existed with ‘PROUD TO BE CANADIAN’ emblazoned on them. But they do. And Canadians who travel can be far more white, suburban, uncultured, and American than an American. It’s unclear if Canadian’s just have a passive-aggressive-ironic-dickhead sense of humor and this is just a joke on everyone.
Homosexuals like to travel. Lesbians versus gay men is an interesting comparison. For instance, lesbians seize the day and dress like every day is the one they scale the Himalayas, even when they’re planning to just do some shopping in the hotel gift shop after a light museum schedule. Gay men, conversely, dress like they’re between boutiques and might stop for a glass of sparkling—even when they’re scaling the side of a Mayan pyramid. Lesbians never miss an opportunity to hold hands and smile, whereas gay men are more ‘We’re just two dudes traveling through Rio, sleeping in the same bed night after night, who smell like Giorgio Armani Aqua and wear a lot of Diesel—nothing gay about that’ routine which is interesting. Regardless, whatever country you’re from, everyone in other parts of the world where tourism is an industry thinks your country is about 84% gay, because the LGBQT community gets around more than you do (don’t read that in the non-PC way).
Families fall into two categories: Oblivious versus Paranoid Paramilitary Units.
Oblivious families sometimes spend entire vacations in the airport gift shop after arriving. Paranoid Paramilitary Units (PPUs)sometimes spend entire vacations heckling for a better taxi price into town from the airport. Oblivious families include moms with mom-jeans and dads with rubber, open toe sandals and argyle socks; both wear fanny packs (multiple). PPUs feature both parents in standard issue shin-high lace-up boots that would crush your pleasant face. Dads wear some variation of the canvas hunting hat with a brim the whole way around, and are rarely seen without their black-ops Oakleys, the ones which Val Kilmer wears in that movie where he shoots a bunch of people. Moms look like dads, raising questions about the dads who apparently had sex with them. They might be former (“former”) lesbians. Oblivious families take pictures of their kids in front of landmarks; PPUs photograph their kids scaling everything, whether the steps of a Mayan temple or those little barriers around the front of the airport. Oblivious families encourage their children to practice their Spanish on the trip, even though they took French; PPUs punish their children for not reciting the Fifty-Seven Rules of Survival before doing their morning chores at the hotel.
Americans are on this list because they have to be represented, even where they aren’t. As it happens, Americans generally don’t travel compared to the rest of the First World (they rank somewhere behind the Irish, who get to the North of their own country and find they’ve somehow left). But they’re on this list anyway.
Ian from Seattle is a weird dude somewhere between twenty-eight or forty-two, though you’re not necessarily sure he’s in his thirties. He shows up when you’re at this locals only bar, balls deep in Mexico, right in the middle of a sad duo who sound like a cover band of a wedding band. When he sets up a steel drum right in the middle of their performance, you’re not clear if he’s supposed to be doing that, or he’s just this crazy gringo who desperately wants to jam on his steel drum for an audience, even if that audience are drunk Mexicans. And then he jams like he’s the band on board the Titanic and the ship just split in two. He plays ‘Black Magic Woman’ on that steel drum, and he makes everyone realize that Santana is a half-assing it wannabe guitarist. Then he plays what sounds like ‘Voices Carry’ by Til Tuesday—until he kicks it up a few degrees and suddenly slips into the dueling guitar solo from ‘Free Bird’, playing both parts on ONE STEEL DRUM. And by now the wedding band-cover band is like, ‘On the set break, we hop the boarder,’ because Ian from Seattle has set fire to his steel drum and is now jamming like he’s keeping Armageddon contained beneath his hands. When the set’s over, you’ve had enough beer that you make the mistake of calling him over. You think maybe he’ll be cool and chat with you, but he’s not; he’s Ian from Seattle. He responds weirdly to all your attempts to make normal conversational connections, thwarting even the regularity of your breathing with his astounding awkwardness. And when you’re realizing why he lives in Mexico, his friend Carlos slips in, with a man-purse, jockey cap, mousey face, and a shirt with Captain Spock on it doing the Vulcan greeting and some snide Treky remark about Final Frontiers printed beneath it, which you almost find offensive because you realize this is as bad as an atom bomb being the US diplomat to the Middle East.
That is Ian from Seattle, and if you meet him you’ll be lucky to get away with your basic human interaction skills, because his super power is to suck them out telepathically while you’re distracted with his insanity on the steel drum.