Some people say that there are no dumb questions. Unless those people are the tour guides in this story. These poor people came into work never expecting to deal with the weirdest behavior from their tourists. No matter where these tours are located, it is a guarantee that at least one clueless person will be there to make sure things get derailed. This content has been edited for clarity.
"I do nature tours in Southeast Alaska, basically we take people on walks in the woods and teach them about the local flora and fauna. My absolute favorite story was when myself and another guide were passing around Sitka spruce and Western red cedar branches. The other guide was explaining how Sitka spruce needles are actually edible, so one guy doesn't wait for the go-ahead and just takes a big bite out of the tree branch he was holding. Only problem was, he was holding the cedar.
We were like, 'Sir, it's actually the other tree that's edible.' He just shrugged and kept eating it. What a baller."
"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."
"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-long tour because it was dangerous.
This couple was at the top with their INFANT (who was 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 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.
Parents of the year, choosing a better view over their baby's well being."
"Our museum is very hands-on. You can touch almost all the objects (unless there is a sign telling you not to), and most rooms have a guide to show you everything. As a guide, it's also my job to stop people handling the objects too roughly, and to make sure that no one hurts themselves.
A father and his two daughters come in. None of them seem very interested in learning about the objects (which is fine, if they don't want me to tell them I just let them have a look and answer any questions). But the girls were running around and grabbing things, so most of my time was spent trying to stop them doing that.
Then the girls run up to our sewing machine and start poking the needle with their fingers. The needle isn't very sharp, so it's hard to do any serious damage, but it's still an old, fairly rusty needle. I don't want to take any risks. I tell them to stop touching the needle, and their father says 'Don't worry, I'm watching them.'
Really? You just let them run and start poking a sewing machine. You are NOT watching them."
"I was a tour guide for the Confederate White House in Richmond Virginia, where Jefferson Davis stayed while president of the Confederacy. I had a family come in thinking they had arrived at the actual, real White House. It took me a second to realize they were serious. They totally were, and they were really nice people too.
When I told them they had the wrong White House, the father was really embarrassed. The mom on the other acted like I just blew her mind, like she never heard of the civil war before. After I broke the news, the family of four got back on I-95 and immediately drove another 100 plus miles up to Washington, D.C."
"I'm not a tour guide, but I recently went on a zip-line tour in Kauai. Two of the people on our tour had apparently never understood the concept of an island since they asked several questions such as, 'is there water ALL the way around the island?!' or, 'why do the plane tickets here get expensive in the summer?'
The tour guides, being locals, decided to have fun with it and they answered, 'the plane tickets get expensive because the island moves closer and farther from the mainland.' The two tourists didn't seem to catch on to the sarcasm, thinking that these answers were true and responded with awe and amazement. Another memorable question with a great answer was, 'can you just swim under the island?' And the tour guide just responded confidently and seriously with, 'yeah, you could just hold your breath for a while and go but most prefer a scuba tank.'
Poor guys never had a clue.
I forgot about another question where the guy asked how the pipes were installed in the mountains. Took a while before we realized he was referring to the (naturally occurring) waterfalls. The tour guide just gave him a look I hope to never receive myself, not even attempting to answer."
"I used to work as a tour guide for my college. 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."
"I once took a tour of Neuschwanstein Castle, which featured some of the rudest tourists I've ever encountered.
The tour package we purchased included a long bus ride from Munich with lunch in the village below the castle, and you could choose to either ride the bus up to the castle or hike. We decided to hike, and a couple from Texas on their honeymoon did too. We were having a lovely time until the official tour began.
The tour guide we ended up with was somewhat peculiar. His verbal cadence was strange, and he held his hands in front of him with the tips of his fingers touching while he talked.
Well this couple starts openly laughing at the guide, and trying to include my husband and I in their shenanigans. The guide was strange, sure, but also a human being and his tour was informative. It got to the point that he would stop mid-sentence and wait for them to stop tittering. It was completely embarrassing.
We made a point to shake his hand and say, 'Thank you,' at the end. I hope he doesn't think all American tourists are so insensitive. I wouldn't blame him if he did though."
"I'm from just outside of Atlanta, Georgia. 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. 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 a foreign tour groups. They took lots of photos, but they were 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 the tourists 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 (I was the intern), so I radioed for my supervisor. He 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 second 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."
"I wasn't a tour guide, but I sold the tickets for the tour buses, so I met all the tourists before they took the tours.
There was a woman who came up to me while I was working (I was stationed outside of museums to sell the tickets) and her face was caked in makeup. Like, she looked like a clown. She came over and started talking to me, telling me that she loves our bus rides and that she's good friends with our company. She took out a picture of her on one of our tours and showed it to me. Then she started rambling about whatever. I didn't mind the company, honestly.
When I got back to my station at the end of the day, I told my boss, and she said, 'OH. Oh, no, her?! She's back??!' and then explained to me that she was the only person banned for life from our tours for assaulting other clients with her purse because they wouldn't buy her paintings."
"I'm a cab driver in an eastern US city. I picked them up at the airport with the impression that, like normal people, they just wanted to go to their hotel or the tourist-y area or something, but they asked me to give them a small tour of the city. If any of you are also a cab driver, you know that the longer they're in the car, the more you make, so of course I said yes.
The street culture in this city is awful. People don't care and just walk across the street because a lot of them are just trying to get hit so they can make money. I slammed on my brakes because someone decided to try that on me. Of course, I was upset because I could have EASILY gotten rear-ended, but I'm used to it, so I brushed it off. My passengers, knowing it wasn't my fault, screamed a horrible slur out the window.
It was a hot day, and the windows were down by the customer's request so they could take pictures. We got a LOT of bad looks, so I took an alley and got out of there really, really fast.
At that point, according to the rules I have to follow, I was allowed to end the ride. So I was ignoring their demands to go back that area so they could take pictures and took some back roads to a different part of that nice area, ended the ride and told them they had to get out."
"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 worst 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 nighttime is for (partly for atmosphere, but really because nobody does jump-scares in the afternoon). But these muppets showed up at 1 pm. 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 tantrum. They cornered me and told me I wasn't getting out until they saw some poltergeist activity. The dad started threatening me (a 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 their 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."
"When I was a lad, my family was hiking in Yosemite. My dad is a photographer by profession, and he brought his equipment to take pictures of the family and of nature. There was a tour bus we took a couple of times, and there was this assuming tourist who saw us and said, 'Look! They hired their own photographer for their hike!'
He followed us around to different views and would interrupt tour guides to point out that we had, 'hired our own photographer.'
My dad had already shot him several warning glares and finally went up to the dude and told him to go away. Given that my dad is also a body builder, you can imagine that the poor guy's face lost its color and he ambled off awkwardly."
"I'm not a tour guide, but I witnessed this Sunday. I was at the Monterrey Bay aquarium. They have a row of touch and feel tanks with things like sea cucumbers, starfish, and other creatures like that. In one of the tanks there was a gumboot chiton. It's a big blob thing that has a foot like a snail's or slug's.
Along comes a younger kid, about 6 or 7, and he's looking at it all excited and feeling it. Then all of a sudden he grabs the thing and yanks it up from out of the water, waving it around showing his parents who don't seemed to be concerned in this slightest. I love sea creatures of all kind and seeing him do this got me a little upset to the point where I yelled at the kid to put it down. Then all of a sudden here come the parents with, 'Don't you yell at our child, he was doing anything to hurt it, blah, blah, blah.'
Why do people have to be so dumb. Just because it looks like a rock doesn't mean it's a rock."
"I used to guide whitewater rafting trips on the Kennebec river in Maine. One time, we got a group of twenty-somethings who had been wandering outside of the greater Orlando area for the first time in their lives. I took them on an eight-hour trip down one of the most remote and scenic areas in Maine (a towthirty-five five about an hour from the nearest 'big' town of about 15,000) and after traversing a dangerous thirteen miles of river, these people who had only known theme parks their whole lives said to me, 'Wow, you guys worked really hard to do all this. The trees look so real!'"
"When I was in Yellowstone National Park, a tourist was trying to take a picture with some buffalo. He had his child, probably 3 years old with him, and he was walking towards the 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. Apparently this is fairly common in Yellowstone and most people are maimed or killed. Wild animals are wild, stay away."
"I work at Valor in the Pacific National Monument, but the USS Arizona Memorial is probably the more well known name for it. We get about 4,000-6,000 visitors a day, and every single day I am astounded that these people even managed to make it out here.
Just this last weekend, an old man dropped his shorts to the ground and reached into his underwear with both hands to adjust himself. At the main entrance to the entire park. With children right there. And he honestly just didn't think it was wrong. We had a family bring a plastic bucket, like the kind of thing you might bring to the beach, with them into our movie theater. That wasn't a problem, what was a problem was when they used it to poop in, while still in the theater. It's mind boggling."
"I was in Egypt a number years ago on a kind of 'adventure' tour. The tourists consisted of Swiss, Australians, Germans, British, us two Canadians, and one American. We were touring an ancient temple in Luxor, and our Egyptian tour guide was showing us the hieroglyphics. The American was getting visibly more and more flustered as he kept twisting his head one way, then the other.
The tour guide asked him what was wrong, and he said, 'isn't any of this stuff in English?'
Our guide replied, in perfect English, "now THAT is an American question."
Poor American ended up leaving a week before the end of the tour. He just couldn't get a decent steak apparently.
"A drinking buddy of mine works at renaissance fairs all over Europe. He and his re-enactment group put up camps and live the daily life of soldiers in the middle ages for tourist to look at. (Renaissance fairs in Europe are quite different from the ones in the States, no fantasy stuff. They are more like living exhibitions).
A visitor came up and asked how they do all that fire stuff around camp and how heating food on it works. Totally confused, my buddy asked what he meant. The dude explained that he wanted to know how the holographic fires work, how they look so realistic, and how the food over the fires gets heated if the flames ain't real (needless to say, the fire is real). After explaining that it's a real fire, he still didn't believe it. The tourist urged his kid (toddler age) to touch the flames. This is where my buddy intervened and showed that the flames are real by burning paper in them.
The sad part is, this happened more than once in different variations all revolving around some dense idiots not believing the fire somebody cooks over is real."
"I'm not a tour guide but this summer I visited the terra cotta warriors while I was in China. There wasn't much to do to be honest as it was just a few gigantic pits in the ground filled with the sculptures, but I did overhear this fascinating story from a tour guide.
Apparently, a few weeks before I went, a French guy visited. He was a huge fan of the warriors and even went so far as to dress up as one for his visit. Somehow, he thought that it would be a good idea to go into one of the pits, a.k.a the pits that only archaeologists and important world leaders are allowed to go into. Fortunately for him, security actually took a while to find him as his costume made him blend in with the warriors. When security did find him though, he was promptly kicked out of the country and blacklisted from ever visiting again."