This article was first published in the Northwest Florida Daily News on Sunday, July 16, 2017.
I don’t think any of us realize how much we switch our brains off when we’re playing tourist.
As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, I recently took an overseas trip and did some people watching to see how both I and my fellow travelers behaved when we were being tourists. You should try it, it’s enlightening. I’d suggest that you also notice how you behave yourself, as I don’t think any of us realize how much we switch our brains off when we’re playing tourist.
A number of airports have recently released details of the things that people try to take on flights. Would you believe live lobsters? Yes, apparently that’s quite common. You know how things are when you see that 20-pound LIVE lobster and you MUST take it home? Yep, stick it in your hand luggage.
According to the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), one of the things that’s most common to be found in luggage on the Eurostar (the train that goes under the English Channel between France and England) is unexplored World War I ordnance. Apparently people dig them up when visiting the battlefields of Northern Europe and think it’s a.) a great souvenir to put on a shelf at home and b.) perfectly acceptable to carry in baggage on a public train in a tunnel underwater.
There’s also well-documented tales of people trying to check in palm trees, a 10-pound frozen turkey, and bricks. Pairs of pink fluffy handcuffs are also a common find. The mind boggles!
However, it’s the completely innocent items that we tend to forget about. Snow globes? Yes, seems OK as a souvenir, but breaks the rules about the amount of liquid you can take on a flight. How about that fondue set that seemed such a great present for your parents? The little forks that come with it are looked on by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) as potential weapons.
Closer to home are the frankly strange things that people do to the condos and beach homes they stay in. Most regular are the visitors who completely rearrange the furniture. I’ve been guilty of a bit of this myself, but always put it back the way I found it. I also heard of one group of guests who moved all the sofas and chairs out onto the beach! You can imagine how that went down with the owners. I’ve also heard of renters turning up with full tool sets so they can carry out their own maintenance and modifications.
Getting back to the airports, have you ever noticed tourists going through security who have been told to empty their pockets, put their electronics in the bin and put all their liquids in a plastic bag, yet then try to carry their phones and a can of Coke through the body scanner? Happens every time I’m waiting in line behind them.
Then there’s the passenger who falls asleep on the aircraft having unplugged his headphones. The cord then drops down between the seat cushion and completely jams the seat mechanism. I’m not saying who that is …
Martin Owen is an independent consultant to the tourism industry and owner of Owen Organization in Shalimar. Readers can email questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.