Friday 15 December 2017

The travel tribes

From the Poolside Poser to the Serial Complainant, KATIE BYRNE introduces you to the characters that you'll meet in every holiday resort... Illustrations by Declan Considine

The sun-worshipper. Illustrations: Declan Considine
The sun-worshipper. Illustrations: Declan Considine
The highly-sexed couple. Illustration: Declan Considine
Katie Byrne

Katie Byrne

From the Poolside Poser to the Serial Complainant, we introduce you to the characters that you'll meet in every holiday resort...


The serial complainant. Illustration: Declan Considine
The serial complainant. Illustration: Declan Considine

Twelve days, that's all she has to go from snowdrop white to bronzed goddess. You've been warned: Get in the way of this woman's mission - or rays - and you will unleash the wrath of Helios. Archaeoastronomers would marvel at her ability to precisely align her lounger in the direction of the sunrise; acrobats would struggle to maintain some of the positions she assumes to ensure maximum exposure. Her husband wishes she could check her own f****** back. Twelve days later The Sun-Worshipper has returned to work. She wears white and affects an air of surprise when her colleagues remark on her Nubian tan. "Really? Gosh! I didn't do much sunbathing..."

Passport, tickets, money... Lancaster Tan Maximiser (works like a charm).

Dream destination: Death Valley, California. You'd get some colour.

Holiday from hell: The "winter sun" break in the Canaries. It rained for a week.

The workaholic. Illustration: Declan Considine
The workaholic. Illustration: Declan Considine

Travel highlight: When the waiter in Tenerife mistook her for a local.

Travel lowlight: The baby oil incident. Her back looked like the map of Italy when it started to peel.


It starts on the flight. "Five euro for a sandwich! Are they out of their minds?" The Serial Complainant vows never to use this low-cost airline again. (She said the same thing last year.) The bags aren't on the carousel when they reach the baggage hall. "Disgraceful." They can't find the tour rep when they reach arrivals. "I'll be writing a strongly-worded letter..." The hotel isn't much better. The Serial Complainant pens her TripAdvisor review ("stay clear"/ "worst ever"/ "never again") from her hotel room and spends the rest of the holiday avoiding eye contact with the resort manager. While assertions of "false advertising" and "daylight robbery" are made frequently and loudly, the Serial Complainant is in fact the most likely to plunder the hotel of all miniature shampoos, coffee sachets and anything else that isn't nailed down.

The frequent fliers. Illustration: Declan Considine
The frequent fliers. Illustration: Declan Considine
The 24-hour party people. Illustration: Declan Considine
The poolside poser. Illustration: Declan Considine
The tick-the-box tourist. Illustration: Declan Considine

Passport, tickets, money... Telephone number for the Irish Travel Agents' Association.

Dream destination: Dubai - The Emiratis know how to handle a complaint.

Holiday from hell: They've all been pretty awful.

Travel highlight: When she was upgraded to a sea-view suite in Tenerife after complaining about the shower faucet.

Travel lowlight: When she tried to get a free bottle of champagne to compensate for the lack of sunshine on the same holiday.


This breed arrive at the check-in desk four hours ahead of their flight because what would a holiday be without airport pints? Besides, they have to stock up in Duty Free. The words 'all-inclusive' translate as 'free gargle' and they are determined to make the most of it. Would they care for a welcome glass of champagne? Too bloody right they would. Things turn grizzly when Nuala has a few too many on the third night. She clambers up on stage and grabs a tambourine from one of The Rumba Kings (a Gypsy Kings tribute band - very authentic). Jim takes a sulk and spends the following day drinking Blue Lagoons on his own at the pool bar.

Passport, tickets, money... 96 Solpadeine.

Dream destination: Wine routing in Cape Town.

Holiday from hell: First-night fever in Gran Canaria. Neither of them could remember the name or address of their hotel.

Travel highlight: When they met Ron and Sue from East Anglia - those two knew how to party.

Travel lowlight: The mini-bar bill in Lanzarote.


The Tick-the-box Tourist has very kindly printed out itineraries for the group. She even went to the trouble of placing them in plastic folders! So why is it that, once again, she's the only person waiting in the lobby at 8am for the guided tour? How could somebody choose a lie-in over the pyramids of Chichen Itza? It's absolutely shameful to lie prostrate on a sunlounger when there are ancient ruins and UN heritage sites to be discovered. And while we're on the subject, who in their right mind comes on holiday without a sensible pair of walking shoes and a rain mac?! Philistines, the whole lot of them...

Passport, tickets, money… Lonely Planet guidebook.

Dream destination: It's her life-long goal to follow Tom Crean's footsteps through Antarctica.

Holiday from hell: That hen weekend in Barcelona. She had to visit the Gaudi Museum on her own because the rest of the group preferred to stay on the beach drinking Don Simon sangria straight from the carton.

Travel highlight: When she ventured upon that wonderful sculpture park in Cyprus - she felt like the Ann Bancroft of Ayia Napa.

Travel lowlight: When she did three guided tours in one day - a bit excessive in retrospect.


This couple have travelled the length and breadth of the globe, and they want you to know about it. They have the inside edge on the best restaurants in the area and wrinkle their noses when they hear you went to Faustino's the night previously. Too "touristy" for them. They show you photographs of the Taj Mahal, the Great Barrier Reef and their son's wedding in Tuscany. You haven't been to Tuscany? You have to go to Tuscany. Show them the photos of Tuscany, John. This resort wouldn't be their usual standard. It's just a last-minute jaunt - more a warm-up for Costa Rica. Have you been?

Passport, tickets, money... Jaunty Panama hats - the mark of a seasoned traveller.

Dream destination: John has seriously considered the possibility of space tourism.

Holiday from hell: When they didn't get stamps on their passports in China - still raging.

Travel highlight: When that lovely young couple from Luxembourg asked them for their travel recommendations.

Travel lowlight: When that awful couple went on and on and on about having been to Tibet three times. Show-offs…


This guy's been doing Russian dead lifts and pull-ups all winter and now the guests of the Seashells Tranquility Resort and Spa are going to see the glutes of his labour… whether they like it or not. When he's not majestically diving into the pool, he's fantasising about saving the hot blonde in the green bikini from a drowning incident. Customs stopped him at the airport to find out what exactly he plans to do with all that L-glutamine and the hotel chef is sick of specially preparing egg white omelettes in the morning. No pain, no gain, reasons The Poolside Poser, as he shaves his legs over the sink…

Passport, tickets, money... Obscenely tight Speedos.

Dream destination: Rio de Janeiro - he fantasises about playing football with the locals while wearing very little. And then getting spotted by a scout…

Holiday from hell: When he had a panic attack in Cuba after being told that the hotel gym was undergoing renovation.

Travel highlight: The time the chambermaid in Rome blushed when she saw him in just a bath towel.

Travel lowlight: When the same chambermaid caught him taking an ab selfie in the wardrobe mirror the following day.


The luggage hasn't even been delivered to the room and already The Workaholic has rung reception three times regarding the WiFi code. He tells his wife that he's just checking tomorrow's weather when she asks him to put away his phone while they're having dinner. In truth he's perusing an Excel spreadsheet and wondering if the hotel's Business Centre is still open. The Workaholic is often spotted pacing around the lobby barking orders into a phone or pounding away on his laptop in the hotel bar at night. Holidays don't ease his stress. They somehow add to it...

Passport, tickets, money... Laptop.

Dream destination: Hong Kong - 65.4 delicious megabites per second.

Holiday from hell: The island yoga retreat that his wife insisted he visit with her. Zero connectivity.

Travel highlight: When he managed to knock out 24 emails in the queue for Anne Frank's House. Now that's multi-tasking.

Travel lowlight: When he asked the Mickey Mouse at Disneyland Paris if he knew the "wee-fee" code while wife and children looked on incredulously.


There's rubbing in sunscreen and then there's rubbing in sunscreen… The Highly-Sexed Couple do it in such a way that nobody knows where to look. His hand is never far from her bottom, and she had her hand down his trunks yesterday. Well, according to Breeda, who says she's never seen the likes. And she's no prude. Is it the sunshine or the free cocktails that makes them so frisky? All we know for sure is that he just put her toe into his mouth and she seems to like it.

Passport, tickets, money... Do Not Disturb sign.

Dream destination: Adult-friendly resort in Cancun.

Holiday from hell: Dubai - nobody told them you can get nicked for canoodling on the beach!

Travel highlight: When they joined the Mile High Club en route to Gran Canaria.

Travel lowlight: When the flight attendant knocked on the toilet door and asked them to come out at once.


It starts in the taxi from Malaga Airport. The Xenophobe becomes convinced that the driver is taking the scenic route and she won't stand for it. "Senor!" she barks. "Mucho money! We no pay!" She's read enough stories about Turkish love rats in Take a Break magazine to know that everyone in a foreign country is out to embezzle you... Trust no one is her holiday motto, and it has served her well. She has her grandson warned about potential pickpockets at the Crazy Crocs Kids' Club and she makes sure that none of her fellow travellers send their food back to the kitchen. "They'll spit in it and laugh at you."

Passport, tickets, money... padlock for suitcase.

Dream destination: Apparently Medjugorge is relatively safe. But still, you can never be too careful.

Holiday from hell: Marrakech - she'll never forgive herself for paying €2 too much for that butter dish in the souks.

Travel highlight: When she found a discrepancy on the bill in Rome. "We no drink Fanta!"

Travel lowlight: When she accused the chambermaid in Paris of stealing her shower cap.

Illustrations by Declan Considine

Irish Independent

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