Tour Guides Share Their Idiot Tourist Stories

Tour Guides Share Their Idiot Tourist Stories

Going on a guided tour of a museum or nature site while you're traveling is a great way to learn more about the world. A good tour guide is an invaluable resource of local info and fun trivia to tell folks back home. So it's surprising that so many tourists immediately forget all their manners as soon as the tour starts! We asked seasoned tour guides from around the world to dish on the rude, dumb, and just plain idiotic tourists they've had to put up with.


47. Don't pull the plumage.

I was working on a tourist island in Australia when this man pulled out almost all the back feathers of a peacock because he wanted to keep one. He sneaked up behind it, and grabbed a huge handful and yanked them all out. He was immediately escorted off the island. The peacock had a huge bare patch and most of its beautiful feathers were gone.

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46. Those fish aren't friendly.

I had a guest, snorkeling try and grab the tail of a barracuda as he swam up behind it. Luckily I was able to hit the guest with a dive fin from the boat to stop him before he got ahold. If he had grabbed on, I’m sure he would have been ripped to pieces by that fish.

sad-vacation-guy-has-fun-wife-baby-puerto-rico-22-300x225.jpgBored Panda

45. Can't take it with you.

Was on a tour of a small cave system somewhere in west Texas. It was really beautiful and right after the guide told us how long it took for all the stalagmites and stalactites to form she turned around to move on and some guy leans way over and snaps off a small one and shoved it in his pocket!!! I was so surprised I just stared at him and he smiled and winked at me like we had really gotten away with something and I was a co-conspirator or something

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44. Repels everything, including bears.

In Wyoming it is common to buy bear spray (highly concentrated pepper spray) when heading into Yellowstone. One tourist believed it was bear repellent, lined up his family and sprayed all of them. Chemical burns for everyone!

As a raft guide we regularly got asked whether we would be passing the same spot/going through the same rapid later in the journey. We would reply "why yes, this is actually one of the only circular rivers in the world!"

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43. Wasn't much there to damage.

I work at a brewery tap room and take people on brewery tours. During fermentation CO2 is produced and excess comes out through a run off pipe and into a water bucket. One of the attendees (who was being a pain and trying to be funny but nobody was laughing) asked me what the pipe was for, so I gladly explained. He then asked what would happen if he breathed it in... in disbelief of his stupidity I told him he would pass out/damage his brain, he then proceeded to grab the pipe and take a breath. He was then ejected and barred. Some people are just beyond belief.

napa-brewery-300x202.pngNapa Valley Brewing Company

42. It had a call to make.

I was a tour guide at a university. Small group gets into our gardens where there's a big turtle pond. Girl gets excited and wants a close up of the largest snapping turtle. Girl loses her phone to the turtle and tries to get the university to buy her a new one. Girl was lucky she still has all her fingers.

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41. Nothing's sacred anymore.

Couple of guys I used to play cricket with went on a school trip to Auschwitz and decided to steal a small pair of glasses and some buttons they found half buried in the ground. They were detained by Polish police while they were leaving the site. Hard to know what goes through people’s heads sometimes.


40. Everyone takes a turn.

I’m a bush pilot in Alaska and occasionally do glacier air tours of my boss asks (I’m not a fan of doing tours).

One day I’m doing a glacier tour and had probably 7 people onboard and the dude sitting next to just looks at me and says “I’m the captain now” and yanks the plane 30 degrees to the right and then lets go and laughs saying he was just kidding. There was yelling to follow via my mouth.

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39. But we want to meet him.

My Girlfriend worked at the Sherlock Holmes museum in London (at 221b Baker Street) and apparently a surprising number of fully grown adults are under the impression that Sherlock Holmes is an actual living person who really lives there.

The worst part was that they weren't allowed to disabuse the guests of their misconception so when the guests would ask "where is Sherlock Holmes" she'd have to say something like "Oh he's just out on a case at the moment". Seriously weird.


38. On a cold, clear evening on the Bay.

I was on one of those Big Bus tours of San Francisco in the evening. Last ride for the night. The tour guide probably mentioned five times before leaving that it would be freezing up top and that no one could go up or down the stairs during the hour tour because it was dangerous.

This couple was at the top with their INFANT (wearing nothing but a onesie with a thin bed sheet over the carrier). The tour guide suggested multiple times that they stay downstairs since it would be freezing. Well, it felt something like 30 degrees or less and the poor baby was crying the entire time before we had to pull over (after 30-40 minutes) so the couple could take their popsicle baby inside the bus to thaw out. Best parents of the year, choosing a better view over their baby's well being.

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37. More entertaining than the tour.

I was giving a tour of my university to the mother of a potential student. She tried to recruit me into a popular pyramid scheme and then, when I tried to change the subject by asking what she did in her spare time, she told me about her conspiracy theories that she gives public talks on. They included the dangers of Wi-Fi, 5G, and chemtrails, and that the moon landings were faked by Stanley Kubrick, who was shortly thereafter assassinated by the CIA and replaced by a clone.

I cut the tour short. Felt pretty sorry for her daughter who appeared to think these theories were reasonable and had also been recruited into her mother's pyramid scheme at 17.

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36. Wow, parents.

On an open topped tour bus in London, a woman tries to dangle her toddler over the railing, then starts saying she's going to complain to my manager when I told her to stop. Caught her doing it again and company policy said that anyone endangering their kids like that was to be removed from the tour, so the driver had to come up and march her off. She still insisted she did nothing wrong. Like, she literally had the kid's feet on the side rail of the (moving) bus and was just holding him loosely round the waist. One low hanging tree branch, of which there were many on the route, and that kid was gone.

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35. He got what he deserved.

Used to be a tourguide at a primate sanctuary with a strict 'no touching policy'. At the end of the tour there's a suspension bridge, tourists go first, guide goes last as per the rules. I always warn the tourists that the other side is the territory of a Hanuman langur and he doesn't mess around, keep your distance etc. He doesn't attack people out of nowhere, but he likes showing his teeth and screaming, which scares tourists.

Anyway, one tour I get to the other side of the bridge, and a tourist got bitten. He says a monkey just bit him out of nowhere. Asked the other tourists, no he tried to pet the Hanuman.

top travel destinations 2020Image by nile from Pixabay

34. Frat king in the making.

I used to give tours at my university. There was a group of middle schoolers I was giving a tour to (to show them why they should want to go college).

There was this one kid who kept trying to sneak away and was whistling at just about every girl who walked by. Weird. Okay, whatever, he thinks he's a big shot.

Then a very attractive girl comes jogging by us, and he tried to GRAB HER and starts AIR HUMPING while he watches her run away from us. I was mortified.

I ended the tour. I was done with him. The teachers didn't even care, that was probably the worst part.

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33. Stupid comes in all stripes.

My uncle was a tour guide in Iceland, some time ago. He once guided a group of Americans around the country and stopped at a glacier in the middle of nowhere. He explained to the group that this glacier had been here for thousands of years and that it doesn't melt. The group then went back to the bus to carry on, but my uncle notices that a woman was carrying a big piece of the glacier towards the bus, so he stops her and says: "I'm sorry, you can't bring that onto the bus, it will melt." The woman quickly responded: "But you said it doesn't melt." My uncle stood there for a while, dumbfounded by the amount of stupidity that was in that answer, before finally saying: "Okay, but you'll have to put it in your backpack and keep it in there for the whole journey." The woman readily agreed and started to empty her backpack to make space for the big block of ice. Needless to say this didn't end well for the woman, as the ice obviously melted in her bag.

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32. Foot in mouth.

I'm a helicopter pilot and I used to fly tourists to the bottom of the Grand Canyon for a picnic. The World Trade Center attacks had happened a few years prior to this event. As we were flying over the canyon, a gentleman (who was nursing a hangover) asked if we could fly over a certain landmark. After telling him I could lose my job if I did so, he asked "What if I put a gun to your head?". You could feel the tension from the other passengers in the aircraft. I told him he shouldn't say things like that to me. I could tell he was just trying to be funny and he knew he messed up. When we landed in Vegas he told me he expected cops to be waiting, thanked me for not calling the cops and tipped me $100.

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31. Thanks for the contribution.

My cousin is a tourist guide and biologist, most of his tours are in Africa. He instructed his group of 20-25 people including kids not to wear any type of earrings or collars especially shiny stuff since they were about to go into a thick forest to try to see a bunch of animals. This is very important because 20-25 make a lot of noise which makes wild animals run away or hide, it's even worse if they're wearing shiny stuff they can spot from far away. Ok so this woman complains, decides to wear shiny earrings anyway, cousin tells her to get rid of them or she ain't coming with the group so she obeys but puts them on a bit later.

Some species of monkeys in that area LOVE shiny stuff. They ripped the earrings from her ears.

close-up-photo-of-person-holding-earrings-1721937-e1576600853258-300x232.jpgPhoto by Dmitry Zvolskiy from Pexels

30. Just testing to see if it works.

I was doing a tour of our production facility to some people from head office. As we got to one of the pallet out-feeds, I mentioned the light curtain which was a safety feature that stopped the conveyors once the light was broken, and so for some damn reason one of the ladies decides to stick her hand through the light to test it, stopping the production line and also risking her safety by doing it in the first place.

I asked her not to do that again and went about resetting the machine to start up again. No more than 3 seconds after doing so she stuck her hand through the curtain again stopping everything. She looked at me with the most stupid expression on her face as I basically said "what is wrong with you". To this day I don't know why she did it or what her deal was.

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29. False accusation falls flat.

I'm a tour guide at my university. I led a tour with a very overbearing father and his quiet daughter, among 4 other people. As I led the tour, I tried my best to gear the information toward the students' interests and chosen programs to make sure they got the most information.

In the middle of my tour, I referred to the daughter's program and the dad just blew up, yelling at me that his daughter is underage and it's unprofessional that I hit on her on the tour. He asked to speak to my supervisor, who helped me explain to him that I'm gay and I had had a boyfriend for almost a year at that point.

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28. That is convenient.

When I was in France touring WWI and WWII memorials, the actual tour guide didn't speak English, so I was commissioned to be the translator for all the British and American tourists. I was Assistant to the Regional Tour Guide.

We were at Verdun, and it was a pretty free-for-all tour where the kids could somewhat play alongside the craters' edges, to really drive home the eeriness of a war zone overtaken by normalcy. Anyway, Middle-Aged American Bimbo says about the explosion sites, "Wow, all of the craters and hills here must have been really convenient for the fighting! They're lucky they picked such a location!"


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27. Leave the wildlife alone.

I was teaching a couple of tourists to surf and a dolphin came near us and they screamed "SHARKS!!!!!!!" and ran in to the shore and told the lifeguard. The lifeguard swam out to me and I showed him that it was a dolphin.

Also! There is this cove called La Jolla cove that has a reef and everything that is home to a bunch of fish and sea lions. So I'm showing these people around the cove with snorkels and I notice a couple is missing. THEY HAD CLIMBED UP ONTO THE ROCKS WITH THE SEA LIONS ON THEM AND WERE GOING TO PET THEM. I started screaming at them along with the life guards because the sea lions were starting to freak out. I put them back on the beach and told them not to move. Guess where they were from? ARIZONA.

closeup-photo-of-sea-lion-on-brown-rock-1045075-300x200.jpgPhoto by JOHNY REBEL, the Explorer Panda from Pexels

26. Say goodbye to your pinky.

Tour guide/boat captain in the Caribbean.

We had about 40/50 people on the boat, got off. We would normally go feed swimming pigs which someone would get nipped from them from doing something stupid but nothing too serious. Well the next stop after that was another island where we would hand feed turtle, sharks, and stingrays. So we would tell the people to hold it with the the palm open and food in the middle for the stingrays and they would come over the top and take it out. The turtles and the sharks put it in the water holding it in the tips and when they are coming for it let go. Well of course, this dingus decided he would be tough and feed this baby shark, no longer than your forearm without letting go. Shark proceeds to bite his fingers, he screams and jumps up out of the water and flicks it off of his hand, pulling one of his finger nails off in the process.

So that's one I always remember.

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25. On the move.

I used to work as a tour guide for the college I go to. As part of my job, I gave segway tours to prospective students and their families.

One time I was with a couple families, and one of them had a 10 year old boy with them. I was leading them through the tour and at one point we were in a parking lot getting ready to park the segways before heading inside a building.

The 10 year old boy had gotten off of his too early and was trying to get back on to catch up to the rest of the group. Instead of getting on the segway when it's stationary like you're supposed to, the kid tried to jump on after getting a running start.

He completely flipped over the front of the segway and landed helmet first on the parking lot concrete. He was fine, but instead of checking on him like a good tour guide I started laughing uncontrollably. As you can guess I wasn't that family's favorite person after that.

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24. Not even in the bath?

Former whitewater rafting guide. There's a calmer section of the river people can, if they choose to, hop out and swim through. They are wearing life jackets so you can just float through it.

This woman decides she wants to try it and hops out. After she pops up she slowly tilts forward until just the back of her jacket is out of the water and she's completely still. After 5 or so seconds of this I start to realize this might not be intentional and paddle over and physically pick her head up above the water followed by her gasping for air. I haul her in the boat and ask what happened.

She said she didn't know what to do as she'd "never been submerged in water before". 1) why are you on a whitewater rafting trip? 2) why didn't your strategy involve moving your body?


23. Just gotta touch it.

I’ve got a couple from my time tour guiding at an aquarium. First, a barramundi (a very large fish), jumped out of an open tank and landed on the guest walkway. Despite me telling everybody not to touch it and it would be fine until help got here, one man tried to throw it back in and cut his hand really bad on the scales. Eventually the fish was returned to the water, but then we found the guest had hepatitis B, and nobody was sure how that would effect fish.

Next, the main exhibit to the aquarium is a giant reef tank. The guest walkway was about 7-8 feet above the water. Three men and a woman clumsily tried to hold the woman down so she could pet a sting ray. I thought they had to be joking because of how far the water down was, not to mention how deep in the water the stingrays were past that. They weren’t. Security was called and they were escorted out of the building.

I’ve since moved on to leading tours in a distillery. Guest are really good about not touching anything. Unless of course you tell them the machinery is hot, then they will touch it just to make sure.

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22. Nothing shrimpy about it.

Was a part time tour guide. There was this chinese couple from mainland China who went to a top-end hotel buffet, where there were top dignitaries and VIP guests around. They took one plate in each hand (that's 4 plates in total) and swaggered up to the prawns section, cutting the queue of about 10 people along the way while seemingly oblivious to the glares they received.

That's when the real shocker came. Instead of using the tongs provided, they used their plates to literally dig, like a shovel, at the tub of prawns. They were using their plates as shovels to scoop out copious amount of prawns as if they had been starving for prawns for an eternity. Everyone was mortified at such crude behavior and despite the stunned silence and stares, they just walked away with about 4 absolutely stacked plates of prawns. Their demeanor was as if they were kings and queens, their head held high while walking back to their table as if everyone were insects beneath them.

I had to go up and tell them that such behavior was unacceptable in our country. Thankfully they were willing to listen. It always amazes me how people can be so wealthy but lacking the class and dignity of their economic status.

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21. But the point is, they used to.

I was working in a room in a fairly well known attraction in the UK, when an American family walked in. Now, it was a pretty long tour through the building and the kid was getting a bit bored and restless, so I started taking to him and pointed out the cool picture of St George and the Dragon on the wall. I asked him if he knew the story, and he did not. Neither did his mother - maybe it's not that common over the other side of the pond, I thought.

So, I was happy to be the first to tell this kid the classic story of George and the Dragon, and he was suitably entertained. The mother then asks if it really happened, to which I think she means if the story was based on any historical event. I go off on a quick outline of the historical St George, and how he had really nothing to do with England and that dragon slaying myths pops up everywhere in Europe, so it's unlikely to be based on anything in English history.

The poor woman looks confused and asks "but they must have had some battles like that at some stage before they were all hunted, right?"

"Madam, Dragons don't exist." Not a sentence I thought I'd have to ever say while working there.

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20. Destroying history one reel at a time.

I used to work at a heritage site. It was an old military installation with a lot of remaining original structures (bunk beds, cafeteria equipment, computers etc.).

Everyday it was a constant effort to remind people (read: kids) NOT to jump on the beds, not to slam doors open, not to punch every button like it owes them money.

The absolute worst was a group of kids on a school trip. Within the first ten minutes we're walking through the tech portion of the exhibit, where we had a wall lined with Burroughs large systems machines (B5000's), all behind this little fence about waist-high. I turn to demonstrate some of the pieces, and when I look back at the group one of them had jumped over the barrier, opened one of the units and started pulling out handfuls of digital tape from the reels inside.

I just about jumped on the kid when their teacher did just that. She jumped the barrier, smacked the kids hands and took him outside. I immediately ended the tour and had them all refunded, as I couldn't imagine what else could happen.


19. Do not go quietly into that good night.

Led a scuba diving tour. While signing the safety waivers and all that one very old man kept telling us that he had a DNR ( do not resuscitate). We plainly told him that we are not bound to a DNR and if he passed out for any reason we would attempt to resuscitate by our safety training.

Pretty much all the divers are assuming this guy is gonna kill himself down there (probably spit out the reg and go quietly into the night).

Dive happens, pretty much everyone is hawkeyed on this guy. I see him go behind a large coral head and lay down in the sand and spit out his reg. He is only at about 60 ft so I grab him and wrestle him to the surface. He will not take my back up regulator so I slam it against his mouth a purge air Into his face. We get to the surface and he is fighting me non stop trying to pull all of his gear off. I throw a very hard punch to his jaw and knock him out ( actually trained to do this during dive rescues to keep the panicked person from killing you too).

3 weeks later and he tries to sue my dive shop and myself personally.

nassau-night-dive1-300x134.jpgScuba Dive Bahamas

18. It's a hard job, and poorly paid.

I'm a full-time tour guide. If I had a euro for every time I've explained the "don't ask for a car bomb, you're being rude" thing to Americans, I'd be a millionaire. As for other stories... There's the Japanese group that wandered into a UVF area in Belfast looking to go drinking with the IRA. Then there's the baby-boomer woman in Dublin who tried to pay me in pounds sterling, telling me that "Ireland is basically in England so you have to accept it". Oh, my favourite was the little old Italian lady who asked me to buy her weed. I spent ten minutes laughing and explained there was no way it was happening.

If we're counting student tourism, we've got a long list of thefts, damages, car crashes, walking out in front of buses, starting fights, demanding new accommodation because the host family is too poor (yes really, even though we're talking upper-middle-class families here), and the ever popular breaking their own arms and legs, harassing our staff, and repeatedly asking why its raining. Ahhh, bliss.

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17. Bringing couples closer together.

I work in the backcountry ski guiding industry, working my way to becoming a lead guide. Guest are always trying to kill themselves but here’s one that stands out. Right now I mostly tail guide and pick people up when they fall, which is most of the time.

One particularly deep day I’m sweeping a tree run and all of a sudden there’s a man digging frantically in the snow towards a a pair of legs. His wife had fallen head first down slope in a Flatish area. When she lawn darted the first half of her body was buried in the snow and only her legs and feet were visible. Her husband thought it was a good idea to stand on top where her face obviously was and start digging near the exposed part of her body. I guess in the moment he forgot about human anatomy and where her head might be!?

At this point I was maybe 3 minutes behind them so she’d had her face under the surface for a while. I told him to stop and move, yelled “STOP YOU’RE ON HER FACE!" I tried added a couple expletives but nothing. I finally had to grab him by the backpack and power bomb him down the slope. I uncovered her face in under 10 seconds. She gasped for air, had a cry and then proceeded to tear that man to pieces verbally.


16. The worst flight ever.

Not my story, but co-worker's story. He was a tour manager for South America. We tend to work with the more older travelers (60ish and above). Him and his guests were flying from Lima to Cuzco, Peru which is about 10,000ft in elevation. This is a group of around 40ish travelers. Apparently, he had one male guests who had IBS or something, and while in mid-flight pooped himself. The stench was unbearable as they are all in a small aircraft carrier taking them to Cuzco so high in the mountains. He said he had to help escort this guy to the bathroom in the back, but as he stood up, the poop just came down his leg. So now, he's dragging it with him to the toilet. Once he got to the toilet, he cleaned it up with the assistance of the aircraft attendant. He was very embarrassed, but not as embarrassed as the guy who poo'ed himself. Once they landed, this guy who is in the bathroom, apologetic, and was cleaning himself up. The guide went into the airport and bought him some new Peruvian style pants and then came back to the airport to help dress this guy in the bathroom. I would say that was probably one of the worst stories I have heard happen to an individual.

I have also heard of a fellow co-worker who guides tourism in Vietnam, had to bail out a tourist from jail one time. She received a phone call in the middle of the night from him, in jail, asking for help. She showed up and ask the man, what happened? The Vietnamese police said he was caught purchasing Viagra.


15. What the locals don't know might hurt them.

I was working at a restaurant in a very touristy area and a group of guests asked me when the city's shopping district closed.

At first, I thought this was a simple misunderstanding. Obviously, they'd never been there, and thought it was a mall rather than a section of the city with lots of stores in it. I explained that the stores all had their own hours and weren't connected or related in any way, and that I personally didn't happen to know the hours of any of them, but that a lot of the stores had websites, so they could look up the hours on their smartphones.

This was a completely unacceptable answer. They kept demanding to know when the entire thing closed. Every time I re-explained to them the concept of a neighborhood with lots of unrelated stores, they responded with things like, "We just need to know when [that entire chunk of the city] closes," or "We need to go to [whatever store]," and "We don't want to look up their hours online, we want YOU to tell us".

They told me I was terrible at my job for not having memorized every fact about the entire city that any tourist might ever want to know. I eventually told them that I was not a tour guide, it was not my job to do anything other than work in this restaurant, and that the reason I didn't know the store hours was because my job didn't pay me enough to shop there. They left still raving about how horrible I was and that I should be fired.

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14. Where are the actual ghosts?

I was a tour guide in Edinburgh. Ghost tours, for the most part. I'd take people into the Vaults and the graveyards and creepy built-over streets.

The stupidest tourists I ever encountered were a family of four who turned up on a very slow day in mid-winter. Pro tip, if you want to do a ghost tour and get scared out of your mind, don't do it at lunchtime. That's what night time is for (partly for atmosphere, but really because nobody does jump-scares in the afternoon). But these muppets showed up at 1pm. They were the only people on the tour, and I was trying my best to make it entertaining and creepy for them.

Alas, my best was not good enough. They didn't want spooky stories, they wanted actual ghosts and nothing else would do. And when I failed to provide actual ghosts, they threw a collective tantrum. They cornered me and told me I wasn't getting out until they saw some poltergeist activity. The dad started threatening me (petite, female, about 19 at the time) with physical violence.

Sucks to be him - I have a trained voice and I am loud when I want to be, so I started screaming for help (no mobile phones back then) and fending him off with the stick I always carried on tours. The guys from the tour company's office heard me and came to help, along with the boss' massive dog. The family got kicked out, no refund, and banned. They're lucky I didn't call the police.

That was the most dramatic stupidity I dealt with. Mostly it was just people asking where Edinburgh Castle is stored in winter or whether we have electricity in Scotland.

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13. What time is the gun show at?

Not a tour guide but my mum is. I live in Edinburgh, beautiful city, and lots of tourists. On one of the tours my mother was giving she was showing people around the Edinburgh Castle and got to the 1 o’clock gun.

Now this is shot daily at, guess what time, yep, 1 o’clock (NOTE: This is not shot AT people, just to clarify, or else that would most likely not end well). Anyway, seems simple enough, my mum is explaining what it is, when it was made etc. When all of a sudden, a Japanese person in the tour asks what time it goes off.

Now, my mum, and a few other people in the group, do the sort of awkward laugh where you pretend it’s funny but inside you’re like please shut up. But again, the man asks what time it goes off (hey maybe he didn’t learn clock times in school), so then my mother, still not really sure if he’s taking the piss, says 1 o’clock.

At this point, you’d expect the guy to go oohhh and realise he’s a (the Scottish way to put it) muppet. But no, he literally asks HOW is it 1 o’clock and get this, he gets angry at my mum for not explaining it and giving him no clues or reasons as to how to know that (y’know, apart from the name and that).

Anyway, my mum just moves on to the next thing and his girlfriend/wife tells him something in Japanese which I assume went something like “shut up you idiot”.

So moral of the story, if you ever are being toured round Edinburgh, the 1 o’clock gun goes off at... 1 O’clock

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12. Enjoy the peace and quiet.

I used to give "Naturalist Boat Trips" through a coastal area in Florida. Very slow, see dolphins, learn history, see lots of birds and learn about them, horseshoe crabs, island ecology, etc.

I would usually start as we left the dock by talking about some of the small commercial fishing boats there and how they worked. Then, on to the history of the area. By this time people would typically be asking questions.

One nice young couple said...... nothing. Other than saying hello when they got on the boat -- and they were the only ones on the boat -- they said....NOTHING. I had no idea what to do. Did they hate it? Did they love it? Should I keep talking? Should I shut up? I was sweating bullets.

So I more or less talked for the first hour (not constantly, but some..) and for the second hour, I didn't say a word. I figured if they wanted to say something or ask a question, they would. The only sound for that last hour was the low hum of the boat engine and the occasional loud bird.

At the dock, they thanked me and gave me a tip and walked away. To this day, I still can't figure out what was going on, but it was my most memorable time as a guide.

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11. I want to take your picture.

I'm in the middle of talking and someone's phone rings. Ok, that happens sometimes, and usually they'd just cancel the call or step outside. Nope, this guy answers the call and starts talking on the phone, only a few metres from where I'm standing. I think, 'oh he'll just quickly explain he's busy and end the call', nope! He starts a conversation... The rest of the group glare at him and I'm put in an awkward position because my workplace puts a huge emphasis on politeness. So I suggest to him to continue his call in the hallway, just outside the room we were in, to which he replied 'no, I'm fine here', and went back to his phone conversation. I'm doing my best to talk to the rest of the group (about 25 people), but he's so loud! Eventually this Chinese woman yells across the room at him "shut up, we want to listen to the lady, not you" which worked. But I just couldn't imagine the nerve to ruin everyone's experience like that, cuz you're too selfish to talk on the phone outside.

Also, the place I worked allowed photos but had a strict 'no photos of the staff' rule for privacy reasons. I always explained this at the start and 99% of people were cool. One day I had a particularly happy snapper who got right up in a staff members face to take a photo, like I'm taking centimetres from his face to take a photo. The staffer was just some random middle aged white dude, so I'm not sure why the fascination, but he was livid. It's like I saw it happen in slow motion so couldn't do anything to stop it. That guy was removed from the tour.

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10. We would do the same.

I wasn't the tour guide but I was on a tour of Namibia and had a Zimbabwean guide who was telling us his craziest stories. He had a couple that was married who were on their honeymoon who were on one of his trips. One night, everyone is sitting around the fire and chatting (just as we were) and this couple gets up to go to the bathroom. This is a campsite so they walk off into the darkness towards the toilets. A few minutes later the guy runs back alone, crying and panicking. Everyone asks him what happened. "I think my wife was killed by a lion." Gasp, shock. Everyone is freaked out, asking him what happened, and as he's trying to explain, the now-irate wife walks up to the campsite and starts yelling. So what had happened? Well, they'd walked off, and at some point near the toilets, they both heard a kind of snuffling noise in the underbrush, clearly an animal rooting around. The husband completely freaks out, pushes his wife towards the noise and down to the ground, screams, and runs away. Spoiler alert, it was not a lion and the wife was not pleased at the attempts at being sacrificed. The guide told us that they didn't speak the entire rest of the trip and then he believes they got divorced. Hilarious.

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9. It's historically accurate.

I was a tour guide at a historic village museum (similar to Colonial Williamsburg). The worst thing was the blatant  harassment by some older male visitors towards our female guides (some who obviously look under 16) who wear the old fashioned dresses. You'd be surprised how many men on group tours openly ask our staff members to show them what's under their dress, talk about how it used to be acceptable to marry girls under 16 and how they wish it was still acceptable, or make pretty gross remarks about our staff members in front of the group and I. When you would call them out on their behavior as being inappropriate they would act like you were wrong for getting offended by it and that we should accept it since we were demonstrating life in the 18th century. I heard and saw some pretty bad stuff which would make both the other guests and staff uncomfortable.

It also wasn't uncommon for people to sneak away from the tour group to go into restricted areas in an attempt to hunt the ghosts which are supposedly on the property. Theres a reason those places are out of bounds, there can be irreplaceable artifacts we don't want accidentally damaged, tools, or the area hasn't been cleared by the fire marshal to allow guest access. Small things have been broken by people doing this. People love to get confrontational about being told they can't go into restricted areas or touch the artifacts despite all the signs hung up.

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8. Swimming happens naturally.

I once was a tour guide in high school for a group of young Chinese students coming to the rural US on a sort of “fresh air” trip. They told us beforehand that we had to keep the kids away from water because apparently parents don’t value swimming lessons in China and there is such little open swimmable water that no one learns on their own. We were also told that the kids think swimming happens “naturally” — like if you go into water, you’ll immediately start swimming.

Anyways, one of our excursions was to a local reservoir and the plan was to hike up a hill nearby to overlook the reservoir lake, get a few photos, and then leave. When we got to the top, it started POURING rain like I had never seen before. I’m talking so much rain you can’t see 5 feet in front of you. Then lightning starts striking the lake and I’m still trying to keep it cool even though I had never been so close to lightning before. The students were taking it well and laughing, which was good, until they started running directly for the lake and jumping in. Apparently they had also never learned about electricity conducting through water, so I’m freaking out and start pulling them out of the water (they weren’t in very far) and a couple of them complain that their phones were wet... in the rain.

No one got hurt, but it was a crazy day.


7. Put the hat on.

I'm from just outside of Atlanta, GA. I also had zero relatives who fought in the Civil War. That is important to the story.

I interned up in Massachusetts at a museum one summer. It was a great opportunity. A lot of the museum focused on the local Revolutionary War history, as well as the War of 1812. I did double duty as the gift shop attendant and tour guide. We got a lot of interesting tourists.

One of the best stories is one of our many Chinese tour groups. By and large they were always picture happy, but generally respectful. We had just changed out an exhibit, and the newest one was focused on the local people who had fought in the Civil War. There were a couple of local folks who had gone to fight for the Confederacy, and we had a mannequin display with a recreation uniform. The mannequin had a Confederate battle flag draped over his arm.

When giving the tour of the room, I often brought up the educational differences between the way modern day schools talk about the war in different parts of the country. One of the tourists piped up and said, "So you are Confederacy?" I said, "No, that was a long time ago, and none of my family was involved. I was just born in Georgia." But they started talking to each other quickly in Chinese, and one of them grabbed the hat off the mannequin.

Next thing I know, half the group is taking pictures, and the other half is trying to get this hat on me and tossing the flag at me. I had to grab both of them back. I tried to put them back in their correct places, ask them not to touch anything, and carry on with the tour. Turns out, as soon as I left the room to take them into the hallway, they grabbed them again and started trying to get me to put them on.

I didn't have the authority to ask people to leave the museum (intern) so I radioed for my supervisor. He instead agreed to finish the tour, but if anything else was touched the group would be thrown out. Someone picked up a 200 year old painting on the 2nd floor that wasn't behind glass yet, and they were told to not come back.

I have so many stories from that place. Tourists are weird.

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6. Ox one, boy zero.

I worked at a living history farm museum. I had a kid that was climbing on stuff the whole tour in the farm house and trying to get behind the Smith in the blacksmith shop during a demo.

After the tour when people are allowed to roam the grounds, I hear his mom screaming and look over to the barn and this kid has climbed the fence into the field with our long horn oxen and is trying to poke them with a stick. I walk over and calmly told him to get out of the field before our lazy oxen decide they've had enough, but this jack off decides to look me in the eye and smack Ted on the rear with the stick like it's a riding crop. Ted, bless him, just kinda jumps a little and whips his head around with a what dude look on his face. But seeing as he's a long horn, he just wipes this kid out with one of his horns when he turned his head. Kid goes flying into the dirt and is having a melt down. Mom is freaking out. I'm like dude, get out of the pen before Ted actually gets mad.

So this kid is crying and trying to climb the fence out of the field and Bill, who has been watching this whole thing waits until the kid is almost over the fence and walks up to him and nudges him in the butt with his nose and pushes him off the top of the fence. It was everything I could do to keep from laughing.

Kid was fine, Ted was fine, but the kid and his mom were promptly kicked out of the museum. Their dad and little sister were allowed to stay because she was well behaved and was just enjoying petting the goats at the petting zoo. So since the kid had to leave but his sister didn't there was a temper tantrum in the parking lot that could be heard all the way to the other side of the farm. But the oxen got some extra grain that night, so I guess they won in the end.


5. The river was deeper than he was.

During my summers in college, I worked as a raft guide on a whitewater river in the southeast. It wasn’t a difficult job; the two biggest things we were responsible for were running our trips in a timely manner and ensuring that the guests in our boat had a fun and SAFE trip down the river.

The safety part is important, because people visiting the river frequently forget that it is a natural wilderness feature and carries all of the associated dangers. We frequently received questions about whether the rafts were on tracks, whether I actually had to do anything in the back, and (my personal favorite) whether the river went in a circle and we would end up back where we started. This last question was particularly funny because we TOOK A BUS from the rafting outpost to the put-in of the river — why bother if we were going in a circle?!

One summer afternoon, I had a boat with three groups of two people; one of those groups was a mother and son. The mother seemed nice, if timid, as did the son. However, as I was going through the routine of explaining the safety concerns and paddle commands, it started to dawn on me that he was not very bright. There was nothing wrong with him — he was just dumb.

Once we were on the river, he almost immediately developed a habit of checking the depth of the water with his paddle. He would incessantly plunge the blade into the water without care nor concern for his surroundings and circumstances. The water on this river is pristine. Almost crystal clear. The riverbed is visible almost constantly, and still, this young man felt the need to verify the veracity of his own eyeballs by shoving his paddle into the river like some sort of deranged perpetual motion machine.

Of course, I warned him against his actions. At first, my concerns were that his depth-checking interferes with his ability to follow my commands and paddle. Eventually, however, my pleading grew more desperate as it dawned on me that this child paid no deference to my authority. He answered only to chaos.

It finally came to a head when, in a portion of the river that was extremely shallow (probably no more than a foot deep), he plunged his paddle into the riverbed with a force that shook the surrounding countryside. Like Excalibur, the paddle wedged itself among the rocks, perfectly erect. The boy, with a staid iron grip that could only be wielded by someone incredibly dense, kept his hand on the paddle as the rushing water carried us away from its new location. In one swift motion, he was wrenched from the raft and landed in a foot of water. He wore a face of bewildered idiocy.

It was quite satisfying to keep his paddle in the back with me for the remainder of the trip after I returned him safely to the raft. All he could do was stare wistfully at the riverbed, his dumb brain longing to verify its depth.

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4. Cute but deadly.

We're pretty good at stopping tourists from doing too much damage. After being in the industry for a while you get a spidey sense for when people are going to do dumb things and can often steer them away from doing anything too bad. That being said, here's one of my favourite stories to tell.

I was 7 months pregnant and it was the week before I went on maternity leave. I was driving out to one of our sites and to get there I had to drive (on the road of course) through our penguin colony. This particular species of penguin burrows underground and stays hidden in their burrow during the day, and comes out at night when birds of prey and other potential predators have gone to sleep. As I'm driving out to the site I realise the parking lot up ahead is full and people have started parking up and down the road. And that's when I see a giant SUV pull off the road, drive between the bollards and into the penguin colony. I pull over as what seems like 20 non-English speaking tourists start to pile out of the vehicle and take selfies with the ocean backdrop. Staying as calm as possible and using sign language I point out the no entry signs of the bollards they drove past, the burrows they have just collapsed, inform them they may have killed penguins, and to get their vehicle out of the colony.

Once I got them out of there I started digging out the collapsed burrows to check for penguins. The first four were luckily empty but the last one had a breeding pair. I get the girl out, check her over for injuries, and having no where else to put her I follow protocol and tuck her under my left arm against my side. I get the boy out and put him in the same position on the right side and start to check him over. Remember how I said I was pregnant? Well normally, you hold a penguin down low almost on your hip, but because of my round tummy I was holding him more at the bottom of my ribcage. So when I turned my head to start my health check, the bastard reached up and grabbed my top lip with his beak and ripped straight through the middle.

It was about this time that the tourists walking along the road realised this ranger was holding onto two penguins. I had five or six tourists sprint through the colony towards me and start snapping pictures. While at the same time potentially collapsing more burrows. If any internet sleuths stumble across a picture of a heavily pregnant, pissed off looking ranger, holding two penguins with blood pouring down her face let me know. I've been waiting for that picture to show up for 3 years and haven't found it yet.

Happy ending, I chased away the photographers, popped the two uninjured penguins in a nearby unoccupied burrow, and radioed for back up to help with the parking situation. My lip healed without a scar, and both penguins left the following morning for a well deserved day in the ocean.

Signage is there for a reason. Rules are there for a reason. If you don't know what the reason is, doesn't mean you should break the rules.

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3. This is where survival of the fittest kicks in.

Hi! Australian tour guide for a VERY expensive resort. Landed the job because I grew up in the extremely remote area, knew all of the plants and animals and could spout facts to make Wikipedia blush and a big fan of self sufficient camping.

Took a group of 20 odd people on a late afternoon guided bushwalk (Middle of summer, finally convinced the bosses that heatstroke and sunburn lead to bad reviews) and everything was going great. We actually saw a lot of wildlife that shouldn't have been awake (informed the guests to make sure they had cold weather clothing and to watch for ice when driving in the morning when I saw this, the area could go from 40c to a blizzard in under an hour and did so often. Not for the faint hearted.), the runoff was making the waterfalls and cascades put on a show and every plant was blooming.

I would show them certain plants and their uses. Some could be used to disinfect wounds, some helped with sunburn or chapped skin, some made a natural tea that is fantastic for when you are starting to feel tired. I showed them various berries, nuts and roots / leaves they could eat and what they would give you (for example one berry is incredibly high in vitamin C).

I also spent a lot of time telling them what NOT to touch and where NOT to go. "Excuse me sir, that pond you're about to drink from. Do you see the dead kangaroo 15 metres to your left floating in it?" Try the waterfall on my right or I can fill your canteen for you." "Please don't sit on that log. That noise you hear is not the wood, it's the large angry snake that is currently coiled up under it. It is extremely venemous. Just stand up and walk towards me please. DON'T PUT YOUR SELFIE STICK UNDER IT! YOU WILL NEED TO BE AIRLIFTED OUT IF YOU GET BITTEN!"

This was actually a good group. No kids (thank god) and every one spoke fluent English so I didn't have to use the book.

Now I had shown them a large collection of plants growing in a very rare type of forest here called sub alpine rainforest. Rainforest that borders snow level plateaus where NOTHING but tall brown whippy grass grows. It has some amazing stuff. Fungus that looks like Shrek's ears, others that look like they're covered in blood, others that are this super bright neon yellow or green, moss that feels like silk, moss that feels like steel wool, algae that stretches like rubber and some that the lightest touch sinks it to the bottom. But as always, the worst part is the berries.

They are big, everywhere and very, very colourful. They are also so toxic that eating 1/3 of a berry will kill a healthy adult in less than an 3 hours without medical intervention.

So I put on my latex gloves (safety first people) and showed everyone the bush. It went along these lines. I think. It was a long time ago.

"Ok ladies and gentlemen what we have here is called the Mountain Valley (great name whoever came up with it ) Blueberry. Now you can see it isn't blue, it's a very striking purple colour and if you look close you'll see it looks a lot like a small capsicum (bell pepper to Americans) and the fruits are all singular at various points, they don't cluster like other berries in the area or the kind you usually eat.

Pull out pocket knife, slice it in half, spray pocket knife with water and bleach, wipe it and put it away

Now you can see I'm being careful here. These LOOK like they'd be pretty tasty but a lot of the stuff here that LOOKS good to eat is actually completely inedible to us. Some animals can eat these but this plant in particular has a very high concentration of strychnine. Now look, but please do not touch, at the inside and note the seeds and the individual compartments of the berry. The berry itself has a very high strychnine level but the seeds are by far the worst. One of the ways this plant propagates itself is an animal eats it, is poisoned, begins to purge from both ends to try and save itself but unless it is one of a few species, it then dies. The seeds are now spread out and covered in natural fertilizer."

At this stage I put the berry down, grab my trowel and begin to dig a small hole. Next best thing to leave it as you found it (even though these plants outnumber the entire population of that state in that area alone).

While I'm doing that, one of the tourists leans over, picks up half the berry and eats it. Just straight up flicks it into his mouth, couple chews and swallows.

He says, "Doesn't taste very good. I thought it'd be sweeter."

Seconds later, his wife / girlfriend is screaming at him asking what he was thinking, some of the group are horrified, some are doing their best not to piss themselves laughing, and I'm on my emergency radio informing the resort we needed an airlift medical chopper to treat a high dose strychnine poisoning, and to tell them that emesis methods were going to be used.

So I reach into my bag of tricks (I had something for everything in there because I got to stock it and it wasn't my money so I was happy to haul a 45kg bag) and mixed salt, pepper, curry powder and UHT milk with water and told the guy to chug it.

Good news. He definitely cleaned out his system, we got him back to the resort and off to a hospital.

Bad news: I got my balls ripped off and force fed to me by the general manager for "letting it happen". Apparently my 10 minute long "Do not touch, eat or drink anything unless I expressly say it is safe to do so" orientation meeting, the documents they signed that said the same, the reminders I gave every time we saw anything they may have wanted to touch, eat or drink, and my long explanation about how this plant will mess up your day were not enough warning to not eat it.

So I got a written warning for it and quit after my second warning when I refused to take two people and a baby on a 3 hour night walk when they were wearing shorts, t-shirts, sandals, did not have torches, water or any warm clothing and a GODDAMN BABY. These walks aren't flat walks along a wooden path, it's climbing up natural trails that change with storms and are rated for very experienced hikers only.

Miss the job, not the people or the boss.

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2. Lost in translation, literally.

I was a horse touring guide for 7 years and the crap I had to deal with was ridiculous. The most common nonsense was wanting to have them and their 7 year old children run on the horses. They would purposfully smack the horses butt that their kid was on to get the horse to run. But the worst was a bus load full of Asian tourists (12) came to ride. Only one of them spoke English and he was about 9 years old. Every time one of the girls got on a horse they would cry. I already knew this next hour to hour and a half was going to be bad so I decided to put a lead rope on the horse the kid who could translate was riding, and I had him stay with me the entire time. (There was another guide in the front) when we got out to the forest the kids father demanded that we stopped. He wanted me to take a picture of all of them after they got to the top of this super steep mountain. He starts kicking and smacking his horse and he is yelling at all of his family members to do the same before the kid even finishes translating what his father said. I asked the kid to tell them to stop. Tell them no. The kid is trying but they are all turning up this hill and not listening.

Now these horses were well trained and mannered but they also will listen even though they have been trained to stay in line. So the father gets his horse going up this hill and smacks his horses butt one more time and his horse takes off up this mountain. Idk if anyone has watched how a horse runs up a mountain but the almost hop. It's not easy to stay on. The worst part is, About 7 of the 12 horses follow suite and start running up this mountain. The other guide and I look at one another in panic mode as all these peoples screams are fading up this hill. Thankfully the other guide and I can think quick. She grabs the few remaining horses that didn't run as all of their riders are also screaming and crying and yelling. I decide I need the translator boy to stay with me so I tell him what I am going to do, how to hold on and I ask him if he thinks he can do it so we can go stop all these horses. He nods leans forward and holds on as I get both are horses running up the hill. When I reach the top 4 of the older horses had slowed down and were eating so I tell the boy to tell them to get off the horses. He replies they don't know how and are too scared I (try not to show my irritation) jump off my horse as i tell him to give them my instructions step for step. He does but they all shake their heads as they are death gripping the horn. I basically had to lift/drag them off of the horses. I told them all to start walking down the hill and go with the others. I tied up their horses to the nearest tree asked the boy to hold on tight again and took off looking for the others. I finally found a younger man and his wife(?) she was covered in pine needles with a few scratches on her arms and covered in dirt. The boy (I assume) asks what happened then tells me her horse went under a tree and she didn't fit. The mans horse was behind hers so it stopped barely missing her and he got off to help her. I again told them to start walking and I tie up his horse. So now I have 2 missing horses and 1 missing tourist...

It took me and that boy 40 min to finally catch up and find his father. This poor boy was so embarrassed and worried and when we finally catch up to him and his horse and the riderless horse trailing behind he looks up and says "ya, real cowboys now! Huh Son." i grabbed this dudes reigns and told his son to tell him to get off of his horse NOW! I told him to follow us and have him walk behind my horse, his sons horse and the now 2 riderless horses tied in a pack line.

The father was angry and kept talking to his son but his son was so mad at him he would not reply or even look back at him. The poor kids face was so red.

The other guide had managed to get all the other riders and horses back to the stable by the time we got back and when I pulled that kid off of his horse i looked him in the eyes and i told him how thankful i was for him and how brave he was. I told him to stay strong and to hold his chin high because he did the right thing. I told him he was a hero and an excellent rider because that was a lot for a 9 year old kid to handle for his first time on a horse.

That day was an unforgetable nightmare. But that kid was a champion.

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1. Proof that museums are boring.

At the private museum I used to work at I would often play the role of tour guide, when we were busy or VIPs came (lots of politicians).

One time in a group of annoying tourists I helped with, these parents let their kid run around like crazy. This museum has priceless pieces that belonged to George Washington and other figures of the American Revolutionary period (this isn't Mt. Vernon). We had a chair thst belonged to Washington that we flagged for restoration, but since it was in a holding period, we went ahead and kept it out on display. It wasn't the best condition, but it wasn't falling to pieces.

We told the parents so many times to calm their kid, but they just nodded and did nothing. I already decided that I was going to bounce them out at the next incident. Finally, the kid heavily threw himself into the chair, and what do you know, this priceless piece that once belonged to the first President of the United States breaks apart into a wooden mess, and the kid starts screaming.

The parents freak, I start yelling. I didn't even hold back; I told them to stop taking their kids into museums if they are not well behaved AND they were just going to let the kid run around unsupervised. Told them we are not a day care. The parents are crying now, I let them think we were going to sue them (we weren't since the chair was flagged for restoration anyway), and they were begging. I took their information and let them believe they would hear from us.

Of course, they never did but I let them sweat it out for probably a good year. Screw those parents who just nodded and sat there on their phone while their kid tears through a very adult museum.

Parents: know your child. There is a very good chance your 4 year old will be bored in a museum that doesn't have a tactile kid component. Put your kid AND the historical pieces first over your need to see this place that you dragged your poor kid to. When you vacation with your young child, and you didn't bring a babysitter or nanny, there is a good chance you will not see everything you wanted to see due to your kid and their patience level. If you try it out and the kid isn't feeling it, actually watch your kid and maybe just take them and leave. Do not expect your money back, it is on you.

Watch your damn kids! A museum or art gallery is NOT a daycare, there are items that are worth up to millions and are sometimes priceless, this is not the place for your ongoing benign neglect for your child. As a matter of fact, despite this ongoing belief over the last 20 years, kids do not belong everywhere!

I honestly wonder how many priceless items have been completely destroyed over the years due to hyper kids accompanied by useless parents.

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