The Accidental Tourist: Summary and Analysis

The Accidental Tourist by Bill Bryson is an entertaining story. It is based on the real-life travel experiences of the author and is humorous. He faces unexpected hassles while traveling and calls for trouble. He immensely embarrasses himself and takes the readers through it.

The Accidental Tourist Summary

In the story, the author is humorously reflecting on his travel experiences. He describes the different incidents that took place as he was traveling to different places. He is clumsy and cannot manage things in an orderly manner. He ponders about the way other people do their regular activities efficiently and without difficulties. Several times, he could not find the washroom in the movie theatre and ended up in a narrow passage of the door that locks on its own. He finds it difficult to lead a normal life like others and wonders how people do it effortlessly. 

Once, the author was traveling to England with his family during the Easter holidays. After he reached the Logan Airport in Boston, while they checked in, he recalls that he joined the British Airways’ Frequent Flyer program. He remembers that he had put a card in the carry-on bag, which was dandling around his neck. As he tried to open the bag, the zip got clogged, and he put pressure to open it. While this happened, the zip snapped, and everything spilled out of the bag. The author noticed how he injured his finger and trapped it in the zip. The sight of extensive bleeding scared him.

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The author talks about the unexpected trouble he meets when he travels. In one instance, while he was traveling in an airplane, he leaned over to tie his shoelace. However, he got stuck when the person before him fully reclined his seat. It was with immense difficulty that he freed himself from the cramped position. In another instance, he spilled a drunk on his co-passenger. The flight attendant cleaned the mess, and the author spilled another drink on the same passenger. The lady was drenched and annoyed at the inconvenience caused.

The author talks about his worst experience on a flight. It was when he was writing in a notebook and sucked the tip of the pen. He was also talking to a lady simultaneously. When he went to the washroom, he saw that the pen has leaked and colored his teeth, tongue, and mouth in blue. He felt awkward because of his clumsiness. The author is a gentleman but always gets into weird situations. Whenever food gets delivered, his wife asks their children to take off the lid to avoid mishaps.

The author clarifies that such instances occur when he travels with his family. When he travels alone, he makes sure that things work perfectly and he avoids tying his shoelaces. He admits his carelessness in updating his frequent flyer card because of time constraints. On several occasions, he either forgot to request the air miles from the authorities or sometimes it was not recorded.

He talked about when the airlines informed him that he was not entitled to use the air miles. Once, there was a mismatch in his name on the ticket, and he could not use his air miles because of it. He was left ineligible to travel to Bali on a first-class ticket.

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The Accidental Tourist Analysis

The story sends the message that everyone must have the maturity to laugh at their follies. This eases tense situations and moves on to important things. The author lacks grace and is perpetually confused and makes up for it by mocking himself. He presents the story humorously and comforts people saying that making mistakes is alright. The lesson shows how it is not easy for everyone to cope with the changes in modern-day life. Some people find it difficult to adjust to things.

The Accidental Tourist Theme

The story is based on the importance of being well-planned and organized while traveling. The author lacks preparations before setting off and is bound to meet accidents. The author would carry jumbled articles in his bag while traveling and misplaced the most important ones. He would fumble when he carried simple tasks and ended up in clumsy accidents. The story also shows one’s humility to accept their shortcomings. The author’s ability to laugh at himself and see his actions more lightly helped him overcome embarrassment. 

The story is also set on the theme that some people find it difficult to do everyday things properly. The narrator is one such person. He finds it difficult to find places and things. 

The Accidental Tourist Character Sketch

The narrator, Bill Bryson, is quite a fun person. He has evaluated his behavior objectively and admits to all his shortcomings; he gets confused easily and fails to remember the most regular things. He is unorganized and carries several articles in his bag but forgets to get the most important one. Sometimes, he misses his chance to get the miles from a frequent flyer program. He is quite clumsy and spills drinks or gets stuck in awkward situations. He is polite and respectful, but accidents ruin his gentleman-like personality. He is tolerant and feels no offense when his children take off lids to avoid mishaps. He knows that he is disorganized and is mature enough to joke about his shortcomings.

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The Accidental Tourist Analysis Key Points

The story is humorous and talks about the experiences of an air traveler. The author was always confused and could not do things properly. He takes readers around his embarrassing situations and finds humor in his inability to do things properly. There are hilarious moments when he gets stuck under a seat while tying his shoelaces, and his mouth is colored in blue ink. The author forgets the number of his hotel room, spills drinks on his co-passenger several times, and there are more situations where he is completely embarrassed. The author gives the readers a good laugh with all of the careless incidents.