15. Make sure everyone knows you’re from America, the world’s only real country.
Your friends may not share your effusive enthusiasm for the US of A, but you go ahead and lead the charge for Brand America: at restaurants, at hotel desks, on public transit. What, there’s no special treatment for being American? Have you seen our bald eagles and our Lakers Girls? Also, what’s this Monopoly money people keep referring to as currency? You’re the one at Gare du Nord who sneers at the ticket agent while waving a crisp, patriotic $100 bill, “What, y’all don’t take REAL money here?!” Back-to-back World War Champions, and you’re wearing the hat to prove it.
16. Mock the local language and accent.
OK, so you didn’t bother learning a speck of the language before leaving home, but there’s no harm in winging it, right? A good approach is to say all the words you’d say back home, just in an exaggerated foreign accent: “Mamma mia! What-a doo-a you mean-a, you have-a no-a pizza!”
To take it to the next level, move onto making obnoxious jokes in front of your hosts. Tell the old lady at the haberdashers in Moscow how funny you find it that the Russian word for sew is pronounced “shit.” Then when the market seller in Marrakesh tells you orange juice costs ithnine, meaning “two,” goad him with “it’s not nine, it’s two, you dumbass HA HA HA!” If all else fails, resort to asking people you meet (loudly), “Speak-ee English?” and watch your travel companions cringe into oblivion at your rapier wit.
17. Traveling as a couple? Take every last filter off your relationship.
It’s important that everyone you guys are traveling with know the intimate details of your relationship, whether that’s how you’re going to rabbit-boink in the next hotel’s sauna, or how you’re literally Googling “does divorce in Mexico count in the US?” Get yourselves in an enclosed, shared space with other travelers — like a hostel, for example, or a taxi — and really be as passive aggressively god awful to each other as possible.
18. Find any excuse not to interact with your travel companions.
You’d rather be traveling solo, but then who would be there to split all the bills? Most deals are based on double occupancy, after all. Have it both ways by becoming an apparition as you move through the world with your travel companion. Don’t talk. Retreat inward. Attach yourself to your phone. Can you set the world’s record for number of games of Candy Crush completed on an eight-hour flight? Plug into that seat back and go to town. Do everything in your power to make others feel like they are traveling with an electronic device, not a person.
19. Honestly, just complain incessantly. Raise complaints to a high art.
Misery loves company, so naturally your company must be fascinated by your misery. Let us all in on your most reflexive, diuretic dislikes. Complain that the A/C’s too cold, the flight is too long, the exchange rate sucks, the hotel lobby’s too sketchy, the manager’s an idiot, the room is too small, the view could have been better, the food is too spicy, the wine isn’t chilled enough, the market is too crowded, the taxi smells bad, the locals don’t speak English. Complain, in fact, until everyone else starts complaining on the sly about you.
20. Be a full-on unholy ungrateful nightmare.
There are people out there who like to travel to encounter new things and open their minds. If you’re with those sorts of people, all you have to do to ruin the experience is grind your heels into the dirt like a mule, or a 5-year-old.
As an example, head to a famous red wine region in Spain where your companion had called in favors for vineyard tours with producers in advance. Visit one winemaker, who welcomes you like a long-lost relative, brings you for a long drive through his properties, and tells you his family’s history. When you get to the barrel room, spring it on everyone that you couldn’t care less about red wine, and that any poured for you would be a waste. Later, at dinner with the host and his family, defy every norm of basic human decency by cataloguing your similar disgust with what’s on the table: say you hate olives, you can’t stand onions, and that wood-oven-roasted suckling lamb is the least-appetizing meat you can think of. Later, act shocked when your traveling companion takes his leave when you suggest, in Madrid, that you swing by a Starbucks.
21. Or, you know what? Just flake, preferably as late as possible.
How to be the worst traveling companion? Don’t be one at all. Let your friend buy tickets, reserve rooms, purchase tours — it’s best if these are all nonrefundable — then bail at the last minute like the wanderlust-wrecking asshat you are, leaving your travel mate wondering whether to go through with the trip solo, or cancel and kiss thousands of dollars goodbye. Either way, you’ve really given her a chance to build some character.