European Travel Pet Peeves

After more than 15 years of traveling around Europe for a living, I still enjoy every moment as much as I did on my first trip. Well, almost every moment. The truth is, the more you travel, the more little, random things start to get on your nerves. At the risk of sounding cranky — and with tongue planted firmly in cheek — here are a few things that make me reconsider renewing my passport.

Noisy hotel rooms

We’ve all been there: Late at night or early in the morning, the bar next door disgorges its rowdy customers onto what had been a serene street. Or your neighbors come back from a late dinner and crank up the volume on their TV. Or a prewar elevator grinds its way up the shaft just on the other side of the wall from your bed…and, even with your head burrowed under a pillow, you can feel the gears trundle over each rusty bolt.

I don’t blame hotels for little bumps in the night. But I am an extremely light sleeper…which means that I’m a magnet for unexpected noises. On a recent trip, in one week alone, I had neighbors with thunderous plumbing and small bladders in Santa Margherita Ligure; a midnight bachelorette party on the shared terrace right outside my room in Pisa; and in Salzburg, a next-door neighbor doing a little 7:00 a.m. remodeling project — literally using a power drill on the wall behind my headboard.

Earplugs can only do so much. Side note: When you ask a hotelier for a quiet room, and they smile sweetly and say, “All of our rooms are quiet,” what they really mean is, “None of our rooms are quiet.” And when they say, “We are in the very center, so you have to expect a little noise,” they actually mean, “We totally cheaped out on the windows.”

Blinking lights in a dark hotel room

Speaking of barriers on the road to sleep, it seems every TV in Europe comes standard with an extremely bright little light that cuts through the darkness of a hotel room. Like the steely gaze of HAL 9000, this laser beam pierces deeply into your soul and jolts you awake just as you’re drifting off. (In my MacGyver bag of travel tricks, I carry a little roll of black electrical tape, which makes short work of these unwanted little lights.)

Traveler-unfriendly transportation connections

I understand that local transit is (and should be) designed for local commuters  — not necessarily for travelers. However, in areas where tourism drives the economy, it’s mystifying when the authorities conspire to complicate a simple journey to a comical degree.

On a recent trip to update our Rick Steves Italy guidebook, I ran into a pages-long wall of text about how to connect two popular hill towns: Orvieto and Civita di Bagnoregio. In their wisdom, this tourism-driven corner of Umbria has turned this journey — which should be a simple 30-minute ride — into a farce of Rube Goldberg complexity.

Hundreds of visitors must do this trip every single day. And if they don’t have a car, here’s how they have to do it:

1. In Orvieto, buy a bus ticket at the tabacchi shop 200 yards up the street from the bus stop. (Actually, buy two. I’ll explain why later.)

2. Go to the bus stop. Mind you, this is not the bus stop immediately in front of the funicular station, where every other regional and local bus stops. Nope — this bus uses its own special stop, which is hidden away (I am not making this up) a five-minute, completely un-signed walk away, inside a deserted former military barracks that feels vaguely postapocalyptic.

3. When the bus arrives in the town of Bagnoregio, you have one more chance to buy a return bus ticket, at the tabacchi shop across the street. This is important, because the shop will be closed in the afternoon when you’re ready to head back. Except on Sundays, when of course it’s closed all day. (While the normal price for the ticket is €2.20, you can buy a ticket from the driver…for €7.)

4. Walk 20 minutes through the town of Bagnoregio, pausing at the belvedere in the garden for an amazing view of Civita. But do not — I repeat, do not — walk down the enticing staircase next to the viewpoint. You’ll reach the bottom of the stairs and discover a locked gate. (The real staircase is just over your right shoulder.)

5. Cross the long causeway up to Civita, and enjoy the heck out of the town — having really earned this experience.

6. Walk back down the causeway and 20 minutes back through town to catch the bus back to Orvieto — feeling smug for having already bought your ticket. Just for fun, sit up front so that you can watch the driver have the same conversation with each of the 20 irate tourists who pile on behind you. “What!? Seven euros?”

Did I mention that you have to leave Orvieto by 7:50 in the morning? Because, of course, even though every single bus between Orvieto and Bagnoregio is 100% tourists, this bus does not run between 7:50 and 12:45. (I could not possibly be making this up. Nobody would believe me.)

If you ever wonder why our Italy guidebook tips the scales at 1,250 pages…now you know. If Italy ever standardized its crazy regional transportation system, we could probably print the book on a postcard.


Seen all over Europe, this is the international shorthand for “open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.” Or so you’d assume. But I frequently see a “non-stop” place shuttered at night or on a Sunday. So technically it’s not “non-stop” at all…right? (To be fair, “infrequent stops” doesn’t quite have the same ring to it.)

Riding a bus to board an airplane

With all of the airport gripes we have in the US, at least once we finally make it to the gate, we know it’s just a matter of walking down the jetway to reach our 17 inches of misery. But at many European airports, there’s yet one more hurdle: cramming onto an overstuffed bus and zipping across runways to some distant fringe of the airport.


Pulling up to the plane, all of the bus doors open all at once, kicking off a melee of passengers elbowing their way up the stairs to find seats scattered throughout the airplane. (Begin boarding from the back? First class first? People needing additional time or assistance? Forget it.) And then, when you reach your destination, you have to ride another bus to get to the terminal.

This is especially stressful when you have a tight connection — you can’t just burst down the jetway and break into a sprint. No, you have to wait patiently for the entire plane to deboard, fidget nervously as the bus dodges luggage carts across the tarmac, and then make like Usain Bolt once you’re unceremoniously deposited at some mysterious annex of the airport, just past the Z gates.

“Rich breakfast”


I can’t tell you how many hoteliers — all over Europe — have bragged to me, with a wink, “We have an extremely rich breakfast!” This is clearly a language-barrier problem: They think it means “delicious and full of variety.” But to American ears, it’s more like “a little indigestion and heartburn to start your day.” Appetizing.

Tiny showers with big faucets

Europe is small. Tight streets, tight hotel rooms, tight everything. And normally I don’t mind it. In fact, I believe — philosophically — it’s good for Americans (who are accustomed to having all the room we want) to be reminded that space has value, and we need to be thoughtful about sharing it.


That said, European showers drive me nuts. The enclosures can be minuscule. And I could deal with that. But all too often, a big chunk is taken out of the middle by a jerry-rigged faucet that pokes way out from the wall. You know what I’m talking about: No matter how careful you are, it jabs into your lower back. And the oversized paddle of a handle is perfectly positioned to catch your elbow every time you turn around — suddenly making the water either volcanic or glacial. And while we’re on the topic of hotel showers…

Liquid soap

It now seems near-universal for hotels to provide a single pump bottle of cheapo, all-purpose “body wash/shampoo/and while we’re at it clothing detergent and dish soap” mixture. (I recently found one that was labeled, simply, “Flowers” — apparently the marketing team took the day off.) For convenience and for environmental reasons, I carry my own shampoo and a big bar of soap. But occasionally I run out, and it’s nice to check in and discover some little individually wrapped itsy-bitsies, or a mini-bottle of shampoo that’s, you know, actually shampoo. However, these have been nudged aside by the liquid soap lobby.

Byzantine pricing

I’m a big fan of straightforward pricing: The burger is $4, add fries for a buck. But many sights in Europe make a hobby of coming up with dozens of different ticketing variations for the same sight.


Salzburg’s Höhensalzburg Fortress is the worst offender I’ve seen recently. To enter the fortress, you can either hike up, or take the funicular. This could have been so effortlessly simple: The fortress costs €8, add €2 for each ride on the funicular. But no. They have separate discounts for entering the first hour of the day, or an hour before closing time. You can choose whether you want to add on the “Regency Rooms.” You can pay for the funicular one-way (and hike back down) or round-trip. And so on.

Consequently, the ticket desk is a mob scene. When I dropped by to update our guidebook, I assumed all of these people were waiting in line to buy tickets. But then I noticed a wall of bored cashiers, and I realized: No, these customers are puzzling over the comically long ticket menu, trying to make sense of which ticket they want to buy. I have to assume that, to guarantee future employment, the person responsible for pricing created a system so complex that nobody else could ever fully comprehend it. (I actually met one of these people once…but that’s a pet peeve for another time.)

Come on, no reason I should have all the fun — what are your travel pet peeves?

Cranky as this all seems, sometimes these frustrating memories grow fonder in retrospect. This post is part of my “Jams Are Fun” series — about when good trips turn bad, and the journey is better for it. After a lifetime of world travel, upon writing a memoir of her adventures, my wife’s Great-Great-Aunt Mildred chose the title Jams are Fun. Mildred realized that it’s not always the big sights that stick with you the most…it’s those serendipitous moments when things go memorably awry.

If you savor the Schadenfreude of hearing about good trips gone bad, check out the other posts in my “Jams Are Fun” series. How about that time I ran out of gas on Scotland’s remote north coast? Or that time I was stuck on a cruise ship during a churning storm in the North Sea? Or the time I became embroiled in a gelato feud in a small Italian village? Or really the entire experience of driving in Sicily

89 Replies to “European Travel Pet Peeves”

    1. My biggest peeve is needing to come home. And, Cameron, the demise of the little bottles of soap is a good thing for the environment. Think about it.

    1. Maybe my biggest travel pet peeve? The European aversion to window screens. Mosquitoes like me. A lot. Every travel journal of mine from the last 20+ years seems to contain a version of “window open- get eaten; window closed- roast from the heat.”

  1. I hate the all in one body wash too! I carry a bar of Dr. Bronners unscented, organic soap which can double to do laundry with, and a Lush solid shampoo bar. My husband and I are both partial to the “Honey I Washed the Kids” bar…..lovely scent!

  2. I entirely agree with you on noisy hotel rooms, soap dispensers and cramped shower stalls (though the tiniest stall I’ve encountered recently was in Canada, not Europe). I would add invariably finding only one baggage stand in a room even when there’s ample space for two.

  3. I travel weekly for work and one of the my biggest peeves are people who let their hotel door slam, as opposed to gently pulling it shut!

  4. How about:
    Sink faucets with separate hot and cold knobs and much worse, separate faucets for hot and cold. BIG waste of water!

    1. And – (I can’t remember if this is true in Europe but it was all over South America) no sink stopper to keep the water in the bowl.

  5. Hi Cameron, Your are so right!!! I just had to laugh because I have experienced these same things… As I now live in Turku, Finland, and use the fabulous Baltic ships all the time which leave practically from my front door, they too have the mini showers and liquid soap for everything, but still life is so good here. Happy travels and keep writing your funny and informative tales from the road!

  6. Thanks for an instructive piece on a little known part of being a professional traveler. My pet peeve of all time is mothers traveling with children too young to be controlled or too bored to bother minding mother. I literally spent an entire international flight just ahead of a toddler who ceaselessly kicked my seat back. The mother had a ‘what can you expect?’ attitude. The cabin crew tried to get the mother to swap seats with the toddler but that was ‘not convenient’ for her. These days I buy deluxe economy tickets for international travel.

  7. One of my pet peeves is SQUAT TOILETS! They are still very common, even in Italy, I am remembering the train station in Varenna. My body was just not made to be in the squat position for more than maybe 10 seconds at a time. Maybe I should do special exercises before my next trip there.

  8. I’ll never stop praising you and Rick for explaining the comically complex pricing of the Szechenyi Baths so clearly in the Budapest book.

  9. I agree with all of these! It always bums me out to not have a bathtub in my hotel. It’s one of the reasons that I have just gotten to old to do hostels. I also hate rude tourists who haven’t bothered to find out about the culture or people of the place that they are going.

  10. That liquid soap gets me too. I cannot read which is Shampoo and which is body gel without my glasses so you can imagine what has happened more than once!

    Agree with everything else. I add “towels smaller than Hilton’s because they set the standard.”

  11. People who bring hot or smelly food on an airplane. You’re an adult, you can wait 90 minutes for a meal or buy a snack on the flight if a meal isn’t included.

    1. Upvote. Smelly should be banned on planes but esp swimming in cologne. Some perfumes immediately send what feels like a skewer straight thru the corner of my eye to the back of my brain & then radiates throughout my skull. It‘s torture. And, no, it‘s not better than BO. BO is bad enough but it doesn‘t leave me clutching my dome in agony. Bathe for crying out loud. Even if it means bathing in one of those horrible tiny showers with big faucets.

  12. My pet peeve is not having an accessible outlet to plug in your charger(s). Sometimes you may have to unplug a lamp or move the bed to get to an outlet. I have a power strip that includes a USB port but I still need to plug it in!

    1. I now bring a small 4 outlet power strip with 4 USB ports, and always do my homework before leaving to figure out what electric outlet converter I’ll need.

    2. A friend told me to use the USB port found on the side of the TV. I had enough of a charge to watch a YouTube vid on how to do it & it worked! It wasn’t doable in 1 AirBnB, but it‘s come in handy for me twice now. I hope you are blessed with a plethora of outlets from now on, but if that doesn‘t happen then I hope his tip can help you in a pinch too.

  13. “One man’s meat is another man’s poison.” My peeve is the deep soaker tub/shower combos you sometimes find in the older hotels. First of all, I’m short, and secondly my knees don’t bend like they used to. Add to that nothing to hold onto when getting in and out of the tub, and you’ve got a recipe for disaster (at least it was in Prague two years ago). Still have a scar on my thigh!

    1. I got stuck in a Parisian hotel. I found my hips fit the narrow tub and I couldn’t get a handhold to get out. I figured out why my mother traveled with a strip of rubber shelf liner for this slick tubs.

  14. I agree with everyone of your pet peeves and those of the others. In the end though, it’s the shampoo-soap combo that frosts me. It never lathers and in tight spaces it slides off my hand before I can rub my hands together–if I can in the tight showers without scalding myself by hitting the hot water faucet. I relish travel and learning new ways of performing my bathroom duties, but I always try to remember my own soap and shampoo.

  15. You really nailed a bunch of them (liquid soap-why?).

    I’d like to pile on with P.K. about the lack of usable outlets. This problem isn’t even confined to Europe or older hotels. I find myself crawling under tables in many hotel rooms to plug in my travel extension cord (often unplugging a lamp or clock radio in the process) to get enough power to charge all my things. To top it off, sometimes it’s nigh impossible to gain access to a plug near my side of the bed to plug in my phone to have it charge AND be available as an alarm clock (or midnight diversion).

  16. On the topic of European bathrooms, my biggest pet peeve that I’ve seen throughout Europe (especially on a trip through the Baltics) is showers with no little ledge around them, so the water just spills out onto the entire bathroom floor! Drives me crazy. It makes it pretty much impossible for more than one person to use the bathroom at a time, and, like many of the peeves you mentioned, seems like SUCH an easy fix!

  17. I am what you might call a “Rick Steves devotee” – now add Cameron Hewitt to that designation. I’ve already added several items for our upcoming trip to Ireland based on this post and the previous 10 things you always pack for Europe! Thank you.

    1. Janet. I was in Ireland in May and discovered, with the exception of a few B&B’s, washcloths were not provided. Using a hand towel as a washcloth in some of those tiny showers mentioned is a monumental task! I suggest packing a few and depending on how long you are staying simply toss them as they get a bit on the “funky” side. Enjoy your trip, it’s beautiful.

  18. Needing to punch in a number to get in your room. Number given verbally along with lots of other instructions when checking in. This for an airbnb room. Once you leave the room and have totally forgotten the number and the host is not available, you spend an interesting night at the local railroad station. Write the number down and put it in your pocked or purse immediately.

  19. You forgot traveling to a place where you cannot drink the tap water and they either don’t provide drinking water in the room or it’s incredibly overpriced (or a tiny .5 liter “free” bottle).

  20. British plumbing …. never the same. Get one figured out and when you move on the next is totally different. that is if I could get into the tub at all. Tubs so deep I can’t get in and no hold bars. I have gone several hot days without a shower because I couldn’t get into the tub. Duvets with no top sheet underneath. I spent three weeks boiling because there was only a very warm duvet and no air con. I used a large bath towel as a sheet a there was a fan to blow drafty warm air around. Love the ambience of old hotels but there can be a few drawbacks.

    1. The duvet! Definitely a pet peeve!! First thing I do is strip the blanket out of it and use just the cover. I complain every time. Give me a sheet and blanket any day so I can adjust as I need to. When and why did that get so popular? In Iceland ok maybe, but nowhere else!

      1. YES YES YES! I’ve written many a Facebook rant on “Duvet Madness.” I now travel with a cut off a bolt of light fleece (about $1.50 worth) and use it for a light blanket, a pillow, a picnic table cover, a shawl, or whatever. Never leave home without it.

  21. The separate hot and cold water faucets are silly. Regarding the long list of ticket options at tourist attractions, the list is usually posted only right next to the ticket window. In small enough type that only the person at the front of the line can read it. This insures that no one can make a decision before they reach the cashier.

  22. Did I mention not being able to turn off the lights individually. Finally had to pull the electronic key card out of the slot to get the lights off hence no charging of iPad at night.

  23. My pet peeve is highly scented sheets. I have fragrance allergies and my face and nasal passages swell causing me to snore. I wake up with a swollen face, a headache and sometimes even chest pains. Can’t they just leave out the perfume?!? No one is allergic to unscented.

    1. You hit a big one! What’s with all the scented oil sticks? Are they trying to kill me?
      Also, I detest multi level rooms where you trip into or out of the bathroom.

  24. I too am a light sleeper, so I’ve started traveling with really good swimmer’s ear plugs (Mack’s is my favorite). Also, a comfortable eye mask. Can’t get the room really dark? Have noisy/clumsy neighbors? Now it’s no problem. I use them on the plane too and now I can actually get some ZZZs.

    My travel pet peeve is other Americans who do obviously rude things: put their feet up on the subway seat, not even make an effort to say “hello” in the local language, etc.

  25. On the subject of bathrooms and showers, I’ve encountered far too many showers in both the U.S. and Europe that I cannot for the life of me figure out how to operate! Which way is hot or cold? How do you get the water out of the showerhead vs. the tub? If you think you’ve got the hot water turned on, how long do you have to wait for it to start running hot before you should try the other direction? I’ve had to wash my hair in the sink because I can’t figure it out! Ahh, the joys of travel!

  26. In July we returned from Budapest to the US. The Delta kiosk area was under construction then we were funneled into the baggage area. No signs were posted at the gate where we were then herded onto the usual bus. At DeGaulle we deplaned to a bus, were dropped off at an elevator to go down to another bus then over to a different terminal. We made our flight to Atlanta with 10 minutes to spare! ATL was “heaven!” In addition to the buses to planes in Europe, we were quite dismayed with the lack of security. Crazy but we’ll go back again!!

  27. My wife and I have been doing “back door” style travel since 1972 when we lived in Europe for several years. I don’t know…I guess I have just become so accustomed to all of these little annoyances, that I now think of them as just adding to the “away from home” experience, and have learned to tolerate or compensate for them. However, being a bigger than average guy, I can sympathize with the whole shower issue. The part that REALLY gets to me is the fact that many of the faucet configurations pipe in the scalding hot water on one side of the device before it is mixed with the cold. If you are unfortunate and touch that hot water side with any part of your naked body, you are in for some serious discomfort. Hate it when that happens!!!!

    BGTW Cam, I think that we were on one of the very first tours that you lead. It was several years ago, and Mary was along to kind of assist you. We started in Berlin, and did the whole Eastern European deal. You did a great job, and we were seriously impressed with your knowledge of European history. It was a great tour….

  28. I SECOND Nancy’s comments about a big duvet with no top sheet. I see this more and more (both overseas in the U.S.) and I hate, HATE it. It’s so hot you cannot sleep….

  29. The passenger with one full size carry-on for the overhead, an equally large carry-on they are sure they can jam under the seat in front of them and a packed-to the-rim “Fly Buy Dubai” bag that they have somehow convinced the gate attendants “doesn’t count” as a carry-on (or the staff just doesn’t care). Save some room for the rest of us.

  30. Solution to duvet issue: Just dump quilt out of duvet cover, fold the quilt, shake out the cover out onto the bed, and you’re in business. After a few days, the hotel staff usually get the idea that putting the whole thing back together again is a waste of their time :)

  31. My absolute #1 travel pet peeve are the overly aggressive hawkers of the glow-in-the-dark bracelet/ rubber band rockets. They are everywhere in Italy! It’s hard to enjoy the cultural attractions when you have to fend off half a dozen people trying to sell cheap, irrelevant junk.

  32. Wow, Cameron, you’ve garnered more comments that I think Rick ever has!!

    As far as the duvet (no sheets) in British hotels, I simply just asked for two top sheets, and they happily gave them to me.

    The showers in Rome drove me nuts. I call them two-by-twos — can they get any smaller! In Florence, I stayed at the Best Western, and the shower was larger.

    Yes, sometimes staying in a “more American” hotel is better if you can get better sleep and get ready in the morning quicker.

  33. I really appreciate the deep tubs, but I can see how the lack of grab bars would be a problem for some. At least tubs with showers over are not tiny. Since flights from the US arrive in the morning usually, if the hotel doesn’t want to check you in early as a matter of policy, not because they don’t have the room ready, then I would like to be able to pay a reasonable fee for early check in.

  34. In some places they don’t believe in standing in line–bus, taxi, etc. Also, some trains are unavailable for boarding until 1/2 hour before they leave. It’s difficult when you’re with a group!

  35. Steep, steep stairs. Hard enough without an elevator but when the stairs are extremely steep, an ordeal to get that suitcase up.

  36. The duvet/no top sheet thing isn’t limited to hotels. We recently visited relatives in Austria, and their guest room bed held two duvets over a single sheet. It’s obviously a cultural thing. Twice in the Netherlands we ran into the shower-without-a-lip thing–obviously a safety hazard!

  37. No clocks in hotel rooms, no washcloths (only hand towels and bath towels), very small rolls of toilet paper that get used up fast, awful old small hairdryers – especially those attached to the wall with a tube (your hand gets so hot holding it you can’t finish).

    1. And why do even more modern hotels not have outlet in the bathroom for a flat/curling irons?
      If there is an outlet it’s only suited for an electric shaver.

  38. Ya, the bathrooms are different from North America. But adequate. They are tiny and not useror handicap/ senior friendly. But on a short stay I can deal with this. The B&B food varies so be prepared for the meals and food. I had a great place in London recently so search well and push for discounts wherever you can. Part of the joys of travelling.

  39. My pet peeve are apartments in Europe (Paris specifically) that have the toilet in one room and the shower/sink in a different room. I get having the shower separate,but there is nothing squickier than using the toilet and having to walk across the apartment to wash my hands!!

  40. My pet peeve in the tiny showers is nowhere to put the bar of soap or shampoo. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to set the down on the floor of the shower and then pick them up when I want to use them. Not exactly safe….

    1. It’s so handy to have a small plastic with handle and put inside your bath soap, own shampoo, & own conditioner and hang it on faucet fixtures, leaving a handle unhooked for easy getting of soap, etc. After bathing I rinsed off & dry the plastic to be used again. I also hate putting personal stuff on floors, you never know what bacteria it has and then you will have your stuff touch your skin.

  41. My luxury item is a piece of cloth measuring about 1 1/2 yards by whatever width it comes in usually 45″, cotton, thin, often colorful, mine are from Africa. It is my sheet or travel blanket, a shawl or head covering, shower coverup for shared bathrooms (bring it under the arms, cross in front and tie behind the neck), wrap skirt, window covering, beach or picnic blanket or tablecloth, makeshift backpack (tie the 4 corners together diagonally), I’ve used it as a swim suit with creative tying and formed it in a circle to protect my head and help balance a large basket I just had to have (it impressed the locals seeing a fair haired woman balancing a basket on her head). It takes up no room, drys quickly, and substitutes for so many separate items that traveling light is a breeze. 2nd item: a very thin washcloth that drys quickly.

  42. Nothing is wheelchair accessible. Hotels, boats, cars, streets, curbs, taxis, busses, restrooms, showers, toilets, counters, tables, airplane restrooms, doorways, lack of elevators, too small (no turning radius), cabinets, sinks, shelves, stores, restaurants, heavy doors, narrow hallways, steep hills and sidewalks if any, appliances controls…just about everything but I STILL love travel. #adapt #imagination #tired

  43. I’m generally concerned about cleanliness, wherever I go. It is a pet peeve that sheets are generally not changed after one guest leaves and another arrives. I wear socks and flip flops in the rooms always, and bring antibacterial wipes to clean off plane seats and hotel sinks, etc. (Crazy, maybe, but cold-free since 2009.)

    Squatting toilets and showers without borders are another.

    Small, uncomfortable plane seats.

    The distrust you feel from those who use the language barrier to sell you something or ‘adjust’ prices.

    All part of the adventure, isn’t it?

  44. Recommend keeping a strip of duct tape inside your travel bag. You will find a thousand uses for it: everything from taping a cracked hotel room window in a storm to repairing a new tear on the inside of your favorite travel shirt. It can also be very handy for putting a small piece over that blinking light in your hotel room.

  45. My top problem is the cotton towelettes that hang over the bidet or by the sink. Never used them since not sure what other guests were using these for, face or bottoms?! I carry my own light midsized towel.
    And the shower stalls without a curtain or a sliding door, leaving the whole bathroom floor a mess.

  46. Airport buses are not just a European thing. Those of us who fly to small regional airports from large ones are very familiar with the concept. Look at gate 35X at Washington Reagan National. Or any international arrival at Dulles. Those who don’t have gate checked carry-on stand on the bus waiting while the crew unloads the bags for those who do. You’re right. Tight connections can be tense.

  47. Oh I am SO in agreement with Steve about the hawker/vendors on the streets in Italy! Guys blocking my way on the sidewalk to the Colosseum waving selfie sticks for sale in my face…aaarrgghh! Also sitting on a beautiful evening at a lakeside restaurant in Como and the view being ruined by three guys throwing light-up squishy balls in the air over and over and… The restaurant owner finally chased them away. Every other thing in Italy was HEAVENLY, though!

  48. I’ll never forget a hotel in Italy. You could take a shower while doing your business on the toilet. Encountered this recently in instantly in an old converted house/B&B. No barrier between shower and floor. Very dangerous. No OSHA there. Tub showers also very dangerous and slippery in europe.

  49. I hate-hate-hate those half-walls on a tub that are meant to function as a sort of shower curtain. Of course it doesn’t and water goes everywhere. Argh! Also the tubs with overhead shower but no shower curtain. There must be a trick that people living there learn as kids, but even after decades of travel I have yet to master. My biggest peeve ever!!

  50. Rich brekky sounds good to me, but then, I don’t get heartburn. Ever stay in hostels? Try sleeping with the bar’s woofer on the other side of the wall… for three months. Then there’s the “I forgot to pack so Im gonna turn the light on at 2am and slam the door on my way out.”

    Of course, nothing compares to the nights when a couple decides to get frisky in the bunk above your head…

    Not much you can do about all that, but to all you anxious travelers out there standing in line impatiently at the airport – back off my arse! The line will move when it moves and smashing your trolly into my ankles every time I take a step isnt going to make the line move any quicker. Rant over.

  51. Reading Rick Steve’s prepared me not to expect a lot with the bathrooms. I thought we lucked out, plenty of hot water bathroom size small but not bad, friends complained, but it was better than I expected. There is definitely a learning curve. Going to take at least several years for me to pay this trip off but look forward to another! Thanks all of you!

  52. Ya gotta shop around for the best and biggest bargain hotel rooms. Ya the bathrooms suck in Europe but ya have to make do. We get spoiled in North america by the motels / hotels quality. Always ask for a better room or ticket price when you can. I did in England and it worked out for me, as a senior.

  53. I was all set to take a shower in Brugge, went to turn on the hot water, so I could get the temperature right before I got in, but no hot water. I skipped it, went down for breakfast. When I asked the other folks there if their shower had hot water, well, it turns out that you couldn’t turn on the hot water unless you first turned on the cold, as a safety precaution. Fine Belgian engineering.

  54. I always carry a wash cloth with me in a zipper plastic bag. The liquid soap is not a problem. I think even Rick Steves mentions this somewhere in one of his books. Takes up no room and solves the problem. As for the other things, they are just a part of travel.

  55. Everywhere we went in Germany we had extremely hard beds. It felt like we were sleeping on concrete. I triple-folded the duvet for padding and used a towel as a sheet. In China, almost every hotel we stayed in had a clear glass wall with a flimsy curtain separating the bathroom from the bedroom. Not so bad as a married couple, but the students we traveled with who stayed four to a room were used to more modesty. Lots of squatty potties in China. I carried a product called a Travel John (available at Amazon) that saved the day. Very compact until unrolled for use and then disposable. Overall, the amazing people I have met and experiences I have had make up for the occasional discomforts. Buying warm French bread at the local bakery and slathering it with Brie and jam for breakfast is a favorite daily memory of our month in southern France.

  56. I hate linens that smell like smoke. Or old carpets and drapes that have absorbed smoke over the years. Unfortunately this doesn’t become apparent until you can’t sleep.
    I always travel with mini shampoo and conditioner bottles so that geeky soap stuff isn’t a problem.

  57. A few Pet Peeves. Most of this is about Italy.
    Airports that don’t have any way to lay down, aside from the floor.
    Strange bathroom retro-fits. For instance, the door will open into the tiny bath room, so there was only one small space you could stand, to close or open the door. Bathrooms with cheap and very slick tile floors, when they were wet. Confusing light switches that made no sense. Near every hotel we’ve ever stayed at, the TV was wired incorrectly, which would take 10 minutes or so to switch the cabling around so that it worked. Annoying Italian drivers. Even if you are going twice the posted speed limit, they will tailgate you. If you speed up even more they will still tailgate you. If you drive even faster, at the very edge of control, they will still tailgate you. And after you have let them pass, they then decide to drive slower than you were driving originally.
    For some reason, credit card readers always seem to fail when you are trying to check out: So they need cash.
    Lack of DVD’s for sale in the gift shop with pictures of the place you just visited that didn’t allow photos.
    Graffiti on ancient walls.
    Lack of an @ symbol on computer keyboards.
    All the roaming; aggressive, street sellers and scams that usually interrupt a pleasant evening.
    Cruise Ships.
    My number one pet peeve is watching millennials “experience” everything through their digital devices. For instance, seeing near everyone under 30 years of age, “watch” events through the record screen of their Pad or Phone.

  58. Why don’t you all get a life and enjoy things instead of bashing around about soap and outlets. Jeesh. Stay home next time.

  59. Hohensalzburg ticket menu? Definitely not as long as a menu in every American restaurant. Takes an hour before you get through all the text.

  60. I agree to all of the above. I would add, probably already mentioned, maps offered to help us but are impossibly complex or void of important details( like north and south). Distances and times that do not square with my distances and travel abilities. Showers that use one handle that has micro adjustments in the opposite directions to what is “normal” or you inadvertently adjust with your butt trying to scrub your left knee.

  61. Encountered the bus ride to the plane for the first time in Iceland a couple of weeks ago. It didn’t bother us too much but we did not have a connection to worry about! Surprised I hadn’t encountered this before with several other trips to Europe…but maybe it’s mainly at smaller airports?

  62. Thank you for this entertaining post – and thanks for all the helpful comments (also entertaining!). On my last visit to Paris, (1) I didn’t know that wash cloths are not normally provided – I’m sure the staff thought I was quite a prima donna; and (2) due to the usual frustrating detective process one must usually go through to figure out how the shower controls work, it wasn’t until after an uncomfortably cold shower (despite the heat wave) that I learned the hot water was not working at all in my room!
    PS my late husband, with affectionate exasperation, referred to Italian stall showers as”rotisserie showers.”

  63. The buses comment is sure true, especially when you need to make the connection to get home or else you will be staying another day. Now staying an additional day on vacation is not the worst thing in the world, but try calling your boss from the Rome airport to say – sorry.

    I follow the Rick Steve’s advice and pack light with only carry ons. This works well for the most part, and I tuck my stuff in the overhead and under the seat. They are on wheels so I can maneuver quickly on a dead run to the connecting flight. I recently, however, found another pet peeve when trying to make my way into the terminal, rounded a corner with all of us trying to beat out each other, and there is a flight of stairs going down. No problem, drop the handles, pick them up and go, with no way to hold on to railings, then there were the same number of stairs going up with everyone pushing and rushing around. A little warning would be helpful so that you can have things sorted out prior and not feel that I’ll be pushed down the stairs.

    I agree about the duvet situation – just give me a sheet.

  64. Lack of laundromats, and those that exist are expensive. Clothes washed in the sink never feel quite clean.

    One thing I love about traveling in Japan is that most of the budget hotels have reasonably priced, in-house laundromats for guests to use. One mid-priced chain even has washer-dryers (the same machine does both, which I had trouble believing until I saw it work) in the rooms.

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