My hostel roommate the other night, an Aussie on a round-the-world tour, informed me that he’d run across ‘several of your lot’, meaning guidebook writers, in the mere two months he’d been traveling so far. Indeed, if you’ve ever spent serious time on the road in spring or summer you too have probably unknowingly encountered several guidebook writers. We’re everywhere, usually trying to keep a low profile. Up at dawn, back late, encumbered with an astounding amount of paperwork for a backpacker and very focused, which comes off as vaguely anti-social.
Ever mused, in hushed tones, about the eccentric loner staying in the hostel’s only private room and smelling faintly of dirty laundry and stress? Yeah, that was a guidebook writer. Here’s a comprehensive list of more telltale guidebook writer signs:
• Exclusively wears shorts/pants with six pockets (which always seem to be bulging with accessories), non-descript shirt (probably stained), shades, and butt-ugly, but very practical shoes.
• Looks at every business marquee while speed-walking down the street at a scorching 5 MPH.
• Is traveling alone and has a rental car.
• Painstakingly saves all receipts.
• Seems constantly distracted and lonely (by ‘distracted and lonely’ I mean horny)
• Grills you and everyone else in the hostel for details about where you went and what you did that day and how you liked it. Then scribbles every detail down in a ludicrously large, bursting filofax or PDA.
• May be intentionally vague when questioned about their career.
• Seems to have memorized ridiculous amounts of information about the country you’re in.
• Looks exhausted and disheveled, yet still intriguingly sexy.
Of course some of these details vary for females. I know at least one who uses her cleavage to get cooperation and/or entry to swanky restaurants and bars when doormen frown at her trainers. (My Man Cleavage, while impressive, doesn’t inspire the same acquiescence.) On the flip side, I’ll admit to batting my eyelashes and smiling sweetly at female hotel desk clerks and waitresses which frequently gets me the world. And it goes without saying, with my ageless, “smoochy” baby-face, gay men are putty in my hands.
Finally, I’m not going to sugarcoat it, if the guidebook writer seems eccentric, it’s probably because they’re genuinely eccentric. And not just a little eccentric. Exceedingly eccentric, in some cases. I’ve spent a lot of time in rooms full of guidebook writers and it never ceases to make me (of all people) feel like a well-adjusted, charming, social wizard.
In truth, you kind of need to be a little peculiar to do this job. Occasionally one starts out sane and is duly driven batshit crazy by the singular, wide-ranging obligations expected of guidebook work. Either way, it’s an even bet that your guidebook writer, no matter how badly you might like to sit and pick their brain for hours, will ultimately make you wish you were in a public place, where you could excuse yourself from the table, walk casually into the bathroom, heave a chair through the window, jump down two stories into a dumpster and make your escape.
Not quite intriguingly sexy in that shirt, but definetly close.
And how sure are you that all guidebook writers walk especially fast? Maybe it’s just you?
Also, if you showed your cleavage, people would think you were a plummer. I don’t think it’d get anyone on your side.
Photo caption: “I once ate a Tamale “This Big”
Excellent everything I need to know to start hunting them. I just need a varmint rifle…
Wait a minute…I’m looking for a good hotel to sleep in and I’m taking advise from a guy sleeping in a hostel who is interviewing other people also staying in a hostel.
P.S. You need to date a doctor, or better yet a pharmacist.
Still waiting to hear about that Romantang
Am not even insanely jealous or hating you or anything right now.
Am highly interested in the blueberryness you mentioned in twittering. Wondering how it compares to tuica. Yay, liquid fruit!
you realize if you replace “saves all receipts” with “carries a gun and whacks people” you’ve described a spy/assassin?
Leif, if you go to Tulcea tomorrow, DON’T chose the highway, it will be crammed with gazillions of people rushing for the weekend tan at the Black Sea.
Instead take the following route: Brasov (DN11) – Intorsura Buzaului (DN 10, north-east of Brasov) – Nehoiu (passing by Siriu lake) – Buzau – then on DN2B towards Braila, taking a short ferry to cross the Danube, then Tulcea, on DN 22 (E87).
That’s the road, DON’T make the huge mistake to take it towards Bucharest and such. You’ll spend too much time seeing nothing but zillions of cars. Have fun!
Here’s one more. The one person who is holed up in their room or using a laptop at night where there’s wi-fi, writing while looking at brochures and notes, at the same time everyone else is looking completely relaxed and is getting sloshed until the wee hours in the lounge. Ah, the glamorous life of a travel writer…
Have just read your follow-up twitter and am withdrawing my previously-expressed interest in the blueberryness.
Avoid the beaches at Costinesti this trip. They’ve been having “sanitation engineer issues” of late. I’m being modest when using the phrase “riddled with garbage” to describe what I saw. Also saw what appeared to be a backhoe attempting to effect a clean-up of sorts. It was sad. I cried on the inside. And somewhere, a fairy died.
i knew I’ve come across your kind before!! hilarious. I was just in the LP office in London and was talking to my friend who works in marketing and we both had good things to say about you. You’re well known there…..
batting your eyelashes and smiling sweetly? Yes Leif, you cute widdle guidebook writer you!
Hilariously accurate Leif!