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Tour Guides From Around the World Share Their Embarrassing Tourist Stories

Peacocks in Australia

Peacocks in Australia

One tour guide shared a story from their time working on a tourist island in Australia. Australia's known for its beautiful array of flora and fauna, including animals like the kangaroo, koala, and peacock. We all should have learned in the first grade that you don't mess with animals, period.

Sure, if it's someone's dog and you ask permission, or if you paid to get into a petting zoo, then, by all means, pet away! This tourist, unfortunately, never learned that lesson. 

But yanking out a huge handful of feathers from an unsuspecting peacock? That's just plain cruel! The peacock is probably already annoyed at having hundreds of tourists gawk at him every day, and now he has a new reason for people to gawk -- a bald spot!

Luckily, the tour staff had the good sense to immediately escort him off the island. 

(Image via Unsplash & Reddit)

Lions in South Africa

Lions in South Africa

A Zimbabwean guide told a story about one newlywed couple's honeymoon that... didn't go quite as planned. Darkness fell over their campsite one night, so when they had to go to the bathroom, they wandered off toward the general direction of the toilets.

Barely five minutes later, the young husband returned alone, frantically panting, "I think my wife was killed by a lion."  

Of course, that extreme claim made the entire tour group freak out. Then his wife reappears and is noticeably angry. Apparently, he heard a noise and pushed his wife toward it and to the ground so he had time to run away.

They didn't speak for the rest of the trip... We're positive that his actions probably caused her to think twice about their marriage. 

(Image via Unsplash & Reddit)

Glaciers in Iceland

Glaciers in Iceland

Iceland is a largely underrated vacation destination. From glaciers to waterfalls and prime seats to views of the Northern Lights, Iceland makes our lifetime travel bucket list.

But before you take a trip to this beautiful Nordic island -- or anywhere new, in fact -- do a little research on the culture, the people, and even the geography. If anything, freshen up on common sense! 

If this tourist had done her homework, perhaps she wouldn't have stuffed a chunk of glacier ice into her bag. Sure, the tour guide noted that the glacier has floated in the ocean for thousands of years without melting.

That doesn't mean it won't melt on a crowded tour bus! Of course, the block of ice melted in her bag and she wasn't happy. 

(Image via Unsplash & Reddit)

Casino in Vegas

Casino in Vegas

It's so easy for tour guides to embarrass their more gullible visitors. For instance, this casino worker in Las Vegas tricked a couple into traveling to the Hoover Dam to see all the kids who weren't allowed in Vegas.

Apparently, this couple asked why they didn't see children in the city, so the guide jumped on the opportunity to prank them. 

“Tourists never saw houses, grocery stores, or schools... [I convinced them that] all vehicles were stopped at the Dam and the children would stay at an amusement park resort until their parents picked them up... 

"I was off work the next couple of days, and when I came back my boss was pissed. Apparently, the couple rented a car and drove out to Hoover Dam looking for the 'kid ranch.' They came back and complained. My boss said he couldn't prove it was me, but they described me perfectly. I almost got fired.”

(Image via Unsplash & Reddit)

Bear Spray

Bear Spray

Sometimes tourists make bad decisions despite their good intentions. This visitor decided that she wouldn't take the tour that she signed up for without spraying herself with -- wait for it -- bear spray.

Yes. We're not kidding.

She obviously didn't want to be attacked by a bear during the tour; unfortunately, she refused to listen to her guide regarding how bear spray actually works. 

“Once had a woman insist that she needed to spray herself with my bear spray because I could not make her understand that it does not work the same as insect repellent," the guide wrote. "She decided against taking the tour and called to yell at my boss over my refusal to spray her with bear spray.”

(Image via Reddit)

Turtles in Europe

Turtles in Europe

It should be common sense that you don't mess with animals in their natural habitat, period. Yes, especially at zoos, conservatories, or botanical gardens.

The only time it's okay is when it's a petting zoo, but even those places are ethically ambiguous.

This guide of a European art gallery had to lecture a full-grown adult about stealing turtles. 

"To date, the stupidest thing was when someone brought a live turtle they found in one of our botanical gardens to the front door of the European art gallery and asked where they should put it," the guide wrote. "Like I dunno, maybe back where you found it?”

(Image via Unsplash & Reddit)

Baths in Rome

Baths in Rome

The most embarrassing tourist stories are usually the result of clueless Americans acting like they know everything. Even though they might not be harming anyone, they bring shame on the United States for being so ignorant.

Take this story, for example, told by the friend of a tour guide for the Roman Baths of Diocletian. 

"Two or three years ago, in the middle of November, waiting in line with other tourists, the staff spot a couple in matching bathrobes, sandals, plastic minipurse with some beauty products. They came from a nearby hotel, absolutely convinced that the baths were fully functional and they were about to have the most gorgeous day of their lives... 

Mind you, all other people in line were wearing winter coats, scarfs... and these two just married Americans were dead set in their bathrobes.”

(Image via Wikipedia & Reddit)

Caves in Tennessee

Caves in Tennessee

This tour guide's friend wrote about a top-tier embarrassing tourist story that occurred at Ruby Falls in Tennessee. The guide leads tourists on a cave tour that concludes with gorgeous one-of-a-kind views of an underground waterfall.

And if anyone has taken a cavern tour before, you know cleanliness is key. You mix outsider germs with cave germs, or ecosystems will collapse. That being said, here's her unforgettable story:

"There is a pool of water at the bottom of the falls. The tour guides tell everyone every time not to drink the water! The high mineral content will act like a laxative. They always assure you you won't make it to the bathroom in time...

"...These Hispanic men just jumped into the pool at the bottom of the waterfall and started swimming/bathing in it. [The guide] was just a young girl that did not speak Spanish [and] was not sure how to get them out. It was very awkward.”

(Image via Unsplash & Reddit)

Bears in British Columbia

Bears in British Columbia

When urban tourists travel to rural areas, they're probably going to tote around various misconceptions about small-town life. Unfortunately, these misconceptions aren't always harmless, and not everyone is smart enough to realize that cartoon depictions of animals are nowhere near reality.

This tour guide of British Columbia ended up saving the lives of three ignorant German tourists who came way too close to being bear chow. 

"One time there was a mother bear with a couple cubs hanging out near the campground. A couple of German tourists thought it was a great idea to cover their 5-year-old’s hand in honey and take it to the bears... Their only exposure to bears was Winnie the Pooh and they thought the mother bear and the cubs would lick the honey off of the kid’s hand and it would be wholesome and beautiful.

"Thankfully my friend’s panicked screaming drove the bears away before the family could reach them with their honey-handed child.'"

(Image via Unsplash & Reddit)

Ruins in Rome

Ruins in Rome

Tourists not only embarrass themselves and their tour guides through their actions but make a fool of themselves with their questions as well. It's a tour guide's job to answer everyone's questions about the location they're visiting, and nobody is expected to know everything about a place.

However, basic familiarity with historical terms and concepts is helpful when taking a tour anywhere around the world.

This tourist tells a story of their visit to Rome, which is known for its stone buildings that are mostly in ruins now. On one of the tours of the ruins, "the guide kept saying '79 BC'," which everyone should know references the time "Before Christ." One tourist forgot basic history and asked, "Does BC mean before computers?”

We can see the face palms now. 

(Image via Unsplash & Reddit)

Fog in Australia

Fog in Australia

Natural landscapes, like mountains, lakes, prairies, and forests, make up some of the world's top tourist destinations.

Mountain ranges and peaks are visited by thousands and thousands of visitors every year, but nature doesn't care about your vacation plans.

Yes, you might have seen the mountain in postcards when it was bright and sunny, but you just might stumble upon the Grand Tetons when it's rainy and foggy. 

Unfortunately, for this tour guide knows what it's like to deal with the disappointment of visitors when the weather isn't so nice. "I was part of a tour at the Echo Point lookout (NSW Australia)," they wrote, "and it was a foggy day. A woman on the tour asked why they didn't have fans to blow the fog away for the tourists to be able to see clearly."

(Image via Unsplash & Reddit)

Colosseum Time Travel

Colosseum Time Travel

Like we said before, tourists aren't (and shouldn't be) expected to know all the facts about the destination they're touring.

There are no dumb questions, theoretically, but that doesn't mean spectators won't laugh at you for asking it.

Take this person's story from when they were touring with a group at the Colosseum:

"A woman in our tour group (mid-20s or so) was confused about when the Colosseum was built. The tour guide said 'The Colosseum was built in the year 75' and she goes 'But like what 75? 1975?' Still cracks me up to this day!" 

(Image via Unsplash & Reddit)

Sleepover at the U.S. Capitol

Sleepover at the U.S. Capitol

The following story is better read than said... Here's what a tour guide of the U.S. Capitol had to say about their funniest visitor story: "I had an American woman in her 50’s (actually my dad’s friend’s wife) ask me where Obama lives and sleeps.

I told her patiently that Obama lived in the White House -- a completely separate building. She laughed out loud and said she already knew that." We're not so sure she did based on how the rest of the encounter unfolds...

"She then announced to the group that she thought it was funny I didn’t know the White House and Capitol Building were connected and that U.S. presidents actually slept in the Capitol Building. I just nodded and said, 'Mmmmm never heard about that," but I was pretty p*****d that nobody in the tour group, not even my dad’s friend, would correct her...

"She was from northern Montana and had apparently only left the state a couple of times." As if that wasn't obvious...

(Image via Unsplash & Reddit)

Leprechauns in Ireland

Leprechauns in Ireland

Everyone knows that Ireland is rife with leprechauns! Everywhere you turn, there they are, sliding down rainbows into pots of gold! Right? Well, not so much. This tour guide led an American family around an old Irish crystal-blowing factory and suffered the pain of fielding ignorant questions. 

The guide wrote, "They gawped open-mouthed at the blowers whilst I tried to explain the fairly simple process they were witnessing. Then the dad lumbers over to me, pokes... my arm to get my attentions and then gestures towards the furnace and blowers, asking: 'But how do they get the crystal on the stick?'" 

"'How do the leprechauns (pronounced "lepp-reee-shans") put the stuff on the stick?' I paused for a moment... he was deadly serious. I tried to explain that leprechauns are not real, but he genuinely seemed to be unable to comprehend such a world.

"In the end, I just agreed that leprechauns are magic and thus able to withstand the incredible heat of the furnace and, yes, they are very talented to be able to put the crystal on the end of the stick like that, and aren't they just great to want to be part of the process of making such beautiful crystal…"

(Image via Flickr& Reddit)

Air Conditioning in England

Air Conditioning in England

Americans are the best people in the world when it comes to complaining, taking things for granted, and being unable to comprehend other cultures (which is ironic given how much we travel). The following story illustrates how important it is to do basic research regarding your vacation destination.

Or use common sense. That works, too.

"At the Eden Project, which is a tropical biome," one tour guide writes, "there were some American tourists complaining about the lack of air conditioning." What do you expect?

Did they think they'd be chilling inside their hotel the whole trip? Or that the weather would be like dry and sunny Los Angeles, California? No, ma'am, there's no air conditioning out here. 

(Image via Flickr & Reddit)

Verdun in France

Verdun in France

Some people just aren’t very bright, and this translator realized that in a very hilarious way. She was a translator, translating French to English, for tourists who wanted to visit the WWI and WWII memorial sites.

While they were at Verdun, things were pretty chaotic. Kids were running around, and it felt really weird considering what had happened there.

The craters made the ground look pitted, and one lady piped up saying, “Wow, all of the craters and hills here must have been really convenient for the fighting! They're lucky they picked such a location!”

Yes. Yes, that’s exactly why Verdun was a hotspot. For the naturally occurring craters.

All the translator could think is, “Lady, are you for real??”

(Image via Wikipedia & Reddit)

Money in Canada

Money in Canada

If you don’t travel often, it can be easy to forget that currency changes depending on where you go in the nation. Sure, the Euro is accepted in most places in Europe, but Canada? They use their own money.

Tour guides bonded over the fact that people got angry when they didn’t accept American money in places like France, but this one definitely takes the cake.

The guide explained how she watched someone pay using United States currency, which was accepted. However, the tourist got furious at her change.

She was given Canadian bills, and the woman was livid.

“She outright demanding American bills. When we explained that we didn't just keep a stack on hand for change, she just kept demanding because: ‘I can't take your money, it's useless in America, I'll just have to throw it in the trash.’”

(Image via Unsplash & Reddit)

Buffalo in Yellowstone

Buffalo in Yellowstone

Wild animals are gonna be wild. We learn from a young age not to mess with animals because they could attack and hurt us.

Well, someone didn’t teach this family that.

A tour guide caught sight of a mom and dad allowing their kid, who was three years old, to walk toward a buffalo – a wild buffalo.

“His wife was holding the camera, ready to take the picture. I knew that he was trying to put his kid onto the buffalo or pose with it or something else immensely idiotic. Fortunately, a park ranger stopped him before anything serious happened.”

(Image via Wikipedia & Reddit)

Snow in Colorado

Snow in Colorado

Sometimes as a tour guide, you get a question that’s so stupid that you honestly can’t believe it’s real.

This tour guide honestly couldn’t believe what came out of this lady’s mouth while at a ski lift in Colorado.

The lady asked, “How did you get that there cement up on that there mountain?”

“I looked where they were pointing while asking the question... Residual snow on the mountain top. They actually thought we covered a mountain peak in concrete. It was a facepalm moment for the woman asking.”

(Image via Wikipedia & Reddit)

Animal Pride

Animal Pride

We groom our dogs and cats, but would you ever groom a buffalo? Yeah, probably not. They probably wouldn’t like it.

Some people don’t get this. One tourist had the gall to ask whether or not the tour guides and people who work at the national park groom their wild animals – keyword: wild.

“One lady was very upset that the animals weren't groomed. She got quite irate over it. She thought we should take more pride in their appearance. I was dumbfounded.”

Clearly, she didn’t go outside very often.

(Image via Wikipedia & Reddit)

Monuments at Gettysburg

Monuments at Gettysburg

Getting dumb questions is just part of the job, but there are some that definitely stand out more than others.

This guy was more than happy to regale everyone on some of the best questions he’d heard while working at Gettysburg.

There were golden questions like:

  • “Do they take the monuments in at night, or just leave them on the battlefield?”
  • “Why aren't there any bullet holes in the monuments?”
  • “Oh, I didn't have any ancestors back then.”

How would you even begin responding to these questions and statements?

(Image via Wikipedia & Reddit)

Waterfalls at Delaware National Gap

Waterfalls at Delaware National Gap

Waterfalls around the world are a huge attraction and for good reason. They’re absolutely beautiful.

The only downside is when the waterfalls aren’t flowing due to lack of rain or other reasons. Most of us can piece together why.

Not this lady. She asked the tour guide, “When do they turn on the waterfalls?”

Apparently, this is a common question? This guide commented, “Lady, for 50$, I'll make sure it's turned on for your family.”

(Image via Wikipedia & Reddit)

Nana at the Vineyards

Nana at the Vineyards

The United States (and most places) has pretty strict rules about what you can and can’t do with your loved one’s ashes after they pass.

Certain people think they are exempt from these rules, but this one takes the cake.

“I used to do vineyard and garden tours for a pretty well-known winery. I had a lady ask to see any merlot vines we had so I walked her over and she proceeded to dump ash all over them and yell ‘We love you, Nana! Rest in peace!’”

Please don’t dump your human remains on food goods. Thank you!

(Image via Unsplash & Reddit)

Zebra Eggs

Zebra Eggs

We know some schools are better than others, but there really isn’t any excuse for this lady.

It’s understandable if someone doesn’t know facts about a place, but zebras? People should at least know the difference between a mammal and egg-laying animals.

This guide worked at a drive-through zoo where he would explain facts about the animals. Well, he was currently explaining the difference between an emu and ostrich egg when a 40-year-old woman chimed in…

“How big is a zebra egg?”

The worst part was that the tour guide had to explain how mammals gave birth while her three kids listened.  

(Image via Unsplash & Reddit)

Caves and Cinderblocks

Caves and Cinderblocks

Being a tour guide, you get all sorts of stupid questions, but there are some that absolutely take the cake.

This guy showed people through a cave, which regularly had a lot of rain. The paths were outlined using cinderblocks to keep the rain from washing debris onto the paths. Safety first, right?

One of the tourists on his trip couldn’t help but ask about the cinderblocks in a peculiar way.

“Last week I had a guy point at a pile of cinder blocks on the side of one of the paths and ask ‘So are those naturally occurring down here?’” Nature is so beautiful.

(Image via Unsplash & Reddit)

Romans in Rome

Romans in Rome

When you hear “Romans,” you think of people who live in Rome, right? Just like New Yorkers live in New York. Not these tourists. While on a tour of the Roman ruins, they ask an innocent question, “did the Romans ever ask to fix up the ruins?”

The tour guide responds saying no, they like them better as ruins, but the tourist continues asking if there’s some representative body to “protect their interests.”

This is when things start to get interesting. The tourist continues to ask, “So, I guess that you just kind of keep Romans in reservations like First Nations, then? Because that’s what it looks like.”

Another tourist has had enough and states, “cut it out, the Romans don’t exist anymore; they can’t be represented in the city body.”

The first one then tries to put two and two together and asks the guide, “Ah, I suppose they all died in the Holocaust? Because I’ve read that ‘Romas’ died in it…”

(Image via Unsplash)

Money in France

Money in France

France is one of those places where you can use the Euro, but not everyone knows that. We at least gotta give this guy bonus points for knowing he can’t use the American dollar here…

A tour guide is speaking with a tourist, who asks where he can exchange his money. The tour guide happily explains there is a conversion station close by to purchase Euros.

Frustrated, the tourist responds, “What? I already have Euros. I need to get some Francs.”

Um…okay. The tour guide paused and said, “Sir, they only accept Euros in France now. You will not need Francs.”

As if that wasn’t enough, the tourist finishes up by saying, “Okay, whatever. Next question: how do I get to France from Paris?”

(Image via Unsplash)

Water in Hawaii

Water in Hawaii

Hawaii is a group of islands, and anyone who took basic, grade-school geography knows that an island means water surrounds it.

Not this lady. She went on a tour to Hawaii and honestly asked the guide one question that left them speechless.

“Does water go all the way around the island?”

Yes. Yes, it does. Water goes all the way around the island.

(Image via Unsplash & Reddit)

Rain at Disneyworld

Rain at Disneyworld

Not necessarily a tour guide story, but close enough. This person stated that she worked at Epcot, and we’re sure she’s heard her fair share of ridiculous questions.

One of her funniest was someone asking, “Miss! When are you guys gonna put the dome up? It's raining.”

“Lol, I had to stifle a laugh and explain we don't have a dome that covers Disney World when it rains.”

That would be pretty nice, though, right? Impossible, but it would be a great feature.

(Image via Wikipedia & Reddit)

Circle Rivers

Circle Rivers

We’ve all seen a circle river, right? Right? Okay, the question was sarcastic, but this lady certainly wasn’t.

This one tour guide used to be a white-water rafting guide, and customers would naturally ask questions.

The most common misconception he’d get is customers thinking that the trip ended at the same place that it began.

“They really believed that the river went in a complete circle and was confused that we needed transportation.”

(Image via Wikipedia & Reddit)