It’s the new R&R: rude and raring to go.
These days, vacations aren’t just a time to relax — they’re a chance to behave badly.
Take the almost three dozen swimmers recently busted for hassling a pod of dolphins in the waters off Hawaii’s Big Island, menacing the creatures as they tried to swim away.
Another woman filmed herself touching an endangered Hawaiian monk seal — and was fined $500 for her ignorance.
And a local TikTokker shamed a visitor who was clambering on a trail near Diamond Head on O’ahu who thought that the rules against public access that have been in place for more than three decades didn’t apply to her.
The Indonesian paradise of Bali has been especially hard hit, with Aussies filmed getting into spats with police after disobeying rules about wearing bike helmets on scooters.
That’s not to mention the rash of Russians who’ve holed up there since the war began and been caught having sex on the otherwise pristine beaches and taking naked snaps in public.
Earlier this month, Russian tourist Yuri Chilikin was deported from Bali after a semi-nude photo of him posing on top of a sacred island mountain went viral. (He eventually apologized — too late!)
The bozo-like behavior is hardly limited to island hoppers.
In Italy, two Americans were fined for driving their e-scooters drunkenly down Rome’s Spanish Steps, causing almost $30,000 of damage to the 300-year-old structure.
The mayor of Venice just announced he’d give a “certificate of stupidity” to the doofus recently filmed diving from a building into one of the city’s canals — not to be confused with the tourists who were arrested for traversing the famous waterways on motorized surfboards, taunting locals along the way. (Mayor Luigi Brugnaro called them “imbeciles.”)
Rowdiness on planes has taken off, too. Last year, one passenger was so keen to exit his seat after landing at O’Hare, he climbed out onto the wing while it taxied.
Another incited a Southwest pilot to threaten to abort take-off after the passenger kept AirDropping nudes to fellow fliers.
But why do some travelers forget to bring common decency with them on vacation?
Blame the way our minds check out when we check in, said travel psychologist Michael Brein.
“We experiment more when we have fewer constraints, whether culturally, socially, or behaviorally. I call it the Spring Break phenomenon,” he told the Post. “Back at home, you have a much more regulated life, but travel equals freedom. And the more freedom you have, the less control others have over you.”
That lack of responsibility’s compounded, he adds, by the fact, people feel less likely to be caught — or even identified, since they’re among strangers.
Add to that a sense of anonymity conferred by widespread mask-wearing for many months: “And the more distant we feel, the less connection, we are less culpable,” Brein said.
“People were able to do whatever they wanted to during COVID, and they still think they can,” added Eric Jones, who runs the travel news site TheVacationer.com.
Peter Tarlow, a hospitality expert and the co-founder of the Safer Tourism project, agrees. The way he sees it, it’s the real-life equivalent of trolling from an anonymous Twitter account.
“You’ll never see people again, people don’t know your name, so it’s perfectly fine to be rude,” he said of some vacationers’ mindset. “It’s like that famous saying: The mark of an honest man is what he will do when he knows he will not get caught.”
Tarlow added that resort rowdiness is also another example of pandemic PTSD.
The way he explains it grounded travelers forgot niceties and norms during COVID’s grip — and as they’re now traveling the world again, they face stressful journeys (complete with rage-inducing airline delays and cancellations) that cost more than ever.
Per the Consumer Price Index, a flight in January 2023 was 25.6% more expensive on average than the same journey just twelve months earlier.
At the same time, with staff shortages widespread, operators are slashing perks, whether turndown or rounds of drinks.
It all adds up to more than some people can handle politely.
“The industry is showing less and less that it cares, and it creates the perfect storm: less service and higher prices. People start to get chips on their shoulders,” Tarlow said.
Don’t discount the general loss of good manners in life as a factor, too, Tarlow added “If you’ve not been taught to be polite when you’re at home, you’re not going to be polite when you travel.”
Put another way: Plenty of people are just ruder, more of the time.
And of course, fame-chasing’s an element, too: Many of these icky incidents are well known expressly because they were filmed and posted on social media.
“This sort of behavior is always a performance — you can never do it by yourself, whether it’s your friends or online,” says professor and travel writer Alastair Bonnett of instances like posing for nude photos in sacred places. “Anti-social behavior has, in fact, always been quite social — and now it’s just expanded.”
Infamy, after all, is still famous.
Some destinations, though, are fighting back. New Zealand’s created the Tiaki Promise, which visitors must pledge when they touch down under.
Meaning “to guard” in the Māori language, it’s intended to shift the visitor’s attitude from mindless to mindful.
The boorish actions of boozed-up Brits visiting Amsterdam have become so bad that local authorities launched a marketing campaign expressly aimed at deterring those same young men from booking their trip in the first place.
Bali has not only started deporting miscreants — including the woman who fought with cops over not wearing a helmet while on her scooter — the island is also looking to tighten visa requirements for Russian tourists.
Next year will bring a visitor’s tax in Venice, meant to combat over-tourism (and, presumably, damage caused by it).
In Hawaii, meanwhile, they’re mulling a nuclear option: Last month, a committee approved a bill to disband the tourism authority there entirely. If they do, locals hope, the number of boorish incomers will be kept to manageable levels.