Dean & Laura's Travel Journal
Tourist Zombie Syndrome

The Tourist Zombie Syndrome

by Dean & Laura VanDruff

These, my friends, are examples of Tourist Zombie Syndrome. This madness comes over people while traveling when one begins to admire and do things that otherwise have no value and would be considered daffy if not on holiday.

Pictures, video, and other artifacts of Tourist Zombie Syndrome are sure to be foisted on hapless friends and family upon return. "And here is a shot of Mortimer's childhood furniture when he was only 5 years old. Who is Mortimer, you ask, and why did we take all this footage? Well, I am not sure, but he must have been someone important because they say he was."

To help get a firmer grasp on what Tourist Zombie Syndrome is it may be helpful to describe what it isn't. It isn't taking risks, trying new things or going native, necessarily. Wearing strange new clothes or trying a new hair-style or doing something out of the ordinary can well be a useful stretch of an otherwise stale personality, and part of the beauty of vacationing is that we can experiment with such away from people we know. What differentiates Tourist Zombie Syndrome from normal vacation license is that what is done is completely absurd, worthless, or otherwise zombie-like behavior. We are talking about purchasing wooden shoes here. We are talking about milling around a graveyard in the rain to see the tombstone of someone you don't really know or care much about, when you would never do this in your home town--where you do. We are talking Zombieish behavior, as if some strange force has commandeered your body to do very silly things.

When we first conceived of this as a distinct psychosis, we termed it the Tourist Bimbo Syndrome, which is an alternate name for the phenomenon. But we came to like Zombie better than Bimbo since it is more like a trance that you enter into--even if you are not otherwise prone to such--where Bimbo denotes a more permanent state of diztiness. But both have a certain appeal in the moment, and perhaps application. The basic question is, "Why am I doing this?" To either Bimbos or Zombies, such questions do not compute. The difference is that Bimbos always travel as flotsam, where Zombies occasionally do. We thus speak to the Zombies, as the Bimbos are a lost cause and it would be rude to make fun of them.

Having been oft caught in Tourist Zombie Syndrome ourselves, we have tried to analyze the reasons for it.

So when you next find yourself (or a travel partner) on vacation falling into the Tourist Zombie Syndrome, perhaps you will remember this article and be able to snap out of it BEFORE IT IS TOO LATE.

Dean & Laura's Travel Journal