Introducing the Vacation Nazi

Introducing the Vacation Nazi

Nothing wrong with a holiday plan, but do you have to beat me over the head with it?

James Durston editorThere are two types of traveler -- the organized and the non-organized.

The organized traveler is basically my mom.

She books her flights two months in advance, she has a long-term reciprocal cat-feeding agreement with the neighbor and somewhere about her person there is always secreted a usable length of toilet paper.

The other type of traveler is carefree and flip-flop rich.

He pre-books the first flight and nothing else, has a long-term agreement with Western Union (via dad) and about his neck there is always draped a tassel-lined length of Arabian scarf.

And yes, I used to count myself among this untroubled crowd.

My first proper travel adventure involved stuffing a few clothes and my passport into a bag and buying a one-way ticket to Bali.

My only “plan” was to spend six months in Asia. The details would sort themselves out.

With a djembe swinging from my hip, I irritated fellow travelers the width of the continent.

If I met my then self now, I would probably spend the day biting my fist. After punching him.

Traveler type No. 3

However, this annoyingly affable chap is quite tolerable compared with a traveler type I was recently exposed to.

She lurks among us, waiting to be invited on holidays so she can assume the “helpful leader” role and bludgeon the group with checklists and headcounts and schedules.

She (not always a female, but was in my case) emails PDF itineraries six weeks in advance.

She segments days into two-hour slots and assigns each to an activity.

She sends twice-weekly emails, each frothing with desperation, asking “Have you booked your flights yet!!!!!????”

She is -- the Vacation Nazi.

During the holiday, it gets worse.

She will be first up, last to bed and never ever hung-over. She uses phrases like “muster the troops” and “a quick five-mile hike.”

Before you’ve had a chance to pee, a Shower Rota appears on the bathroom door. She books the taxi for the trip back to the airport before you’ve even unpacked.

The Vacation Nazi is not an evil person. She just appears that way.

She eats timetables for breakfast and sleep-talks to-do lists.

She treats travel like therapy, purging herself of all the tics that torment her normal life.

She is the worst possible companion for a djembe-toting, itinerary-averse traveler, and antagonizing even for the mature, short-vacation version of that.

But she is survivable -- you just have to know the tricks.

vacation naziThought your staff sergeant was bad? Try a week with military mom.

Not the Travel Rival

Do not mistake her for the Travel Rival, a breed that treats travel as a means of checking off things and places so they don’t come last on the next “How many countries have you been to?” Facebook poll.

The Travel Rival is defined by an in-your-face competitive streak that means spending the end of each day comparing notes to see who had the better time.

But he has a weakness -- yes, he’s usually male -- he never lies.

To subdue him, you simply need to hear him out, then say "That's great. Well I had lunch with an Inuit and spent the afternoon racing peacocks with the Royal Family."

Peace will ensue.

Similarly, the Vacation Nazi has a chink you can exploit.

Sit back, enjoy how the hard work is being done for you and occasionally squeeze the toothpaste from the middle.

Or order room service five minutes before you're scheduled to go out to dinner. The effect is worth the pain.

Whatever you do, don’t be grateful. Gratitude is cocaine to the VN -- they’ll sniff it, love it, get busy with it, then want more of it.

You’ll find yourself on day three reading a hand-written pamphlet titled “How we can see even more places in less time -- yippee!”

If there’s one thing worse than a Vacation Nazi, it’s a Vacation Nazi filled with zest and friendly cheer.

Are you a Vacation Nazi? Do you know any? Talk to us! Comment below.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of James Durston

As senior producer for CNN Travel, James commissions stories, writes for, edits and manages the homepage of the site. 

Follow his Twitterthing here: @jedurston

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