EVERY WORLD-WEARY, UBER-EXPERIENCED TRAVELER has, at some point, been a total noob. It’s a lot of fun to be a travel noob, actually, because you get to look at the world with fresh-eyed wonder and not with wariness and suspicion. That said, you’re probably going to make a complete ass of yourself.
Here are some of the signs that this is your first time away from home.
1. You think of using squat toilets as a “cultural experience.”
You’ll say stuff like, “At home, there’s no such thing as poop hang time!” and “I got the strongest thighs while I was abroad.” You will not mention what you had to use when you realized your Indian bathroom didn’t have toilet paper.
2. You tell the locals you like their “accents.”
Someday soon, someone will tell you with irritation that, when you’re in a different country you’re the one with the accent, and you’ll never say it again.
3. Someone mentions shower sandals at the hostel, and you’re totally confused as to why you’d wear sandals in the shower.
A few days later, when you’re playing host to the greatest ever ringworm empire, you’ll be scouring the city at the expense of travel time in search of just one cheap pair of flip flops.
4. You don’t pack Pepto-Bismol.
Also, you’ve never had to mime diarrhea to a pharmacist.
5. You don’t even try to bargain down the market prices.
They’re already so low anyway! Eventually, a fellow tourist — or in my case, the shopkeeper I was at that very moment buying from — will tell you, “Yeah, that’s not the way it works. You’re supposed to haggle.”
6. No smell has yet haunted your dreams.
Ah, to be young, carefree, and to have never before smelled durian fruit, rotting shark meat, or the Ganges River.
7. You think Lonely Planet is the key to finding the hidden, out-of-the-way tourist spots.
Then you get to the “off-the-beaten-path” pisco bar and wonder why there are so many gringos around.
8. In the planning stages, you don’t once think about the weather in the country you’re visiting.
You get there and ask, “What’s a rainy season? Isn’t it just winter, spring, summer, and fall?”
9. You have yet to divide your friends into “regular friends” and “travel friends.”
You’ll never make this mistake again, so long as the “regular friend” you made the mistake of traveling with doesn’t kill you or get you killed.
10. You buy a postage stamp / bottle opener / shot glass from whatever place you’re visiting.
You think, “I’ll get one of these for every place I visit, and at the end of my life, I’ll have that as documentation of my travels!” Eventually, though, you’ll either change what you want to collect, or forget to buy the item once and then never do it again.
11. In the airport security line, your laptop remains in its bag and your shoes remain on your feet long enough to stress out the travelers behind you.
12. You take pictures of your every meal.
13. You take pictures of you and your fellow travelers all jumping at once in front of [insert famous local landmark here].
14. You take a picture of yourself holding up the Leaning Tower of Pisa.
Or placing your finger on top of the Eiffel Tower. Or kissing the Sphinx. And God help you if you took a picture making the Washington Monument look like your dick.
15. You’re fully expecting to meet a sexy local abroad who you’ll have a torrid but brief love affair with.
Actually, there’s a pretty solid chance this one will come true. But still, the fact that you’re expecting it makes you a noob.
16. Your itinerary doesn’t leave any buffer time for late trains and grounded planes.
The exception to this rule is if you’re going to Japan, in which case it’s totally reasonable to expect their trains to run like clockwork.
17. You can’t wait to see Times Square.
First time in New York: “Hey! Look at all the pretty lights!”
Second time in New York:
18. You think you can match the English / Irish / Scottish / Australians drink for drink.
Aww. How cute.
19. You just pack one book.
“32 hours on a plane and 18 on a train? Of course I won’t finish this Twilight book in that much time.”
20. You think, as you pull back into your driveway, “Well, that should quench that wanderlust for a little while.”
Oh, you poor thing.