The Accidental Tourist By Bill Bryson


This is a story written by Bill Bryson about his adventures on planes. During these flights, he has had a number of negative incidents. He recounts all of these events, and we learn how he fails to enjoy his air flights and, despite being a frequent traveller, is unable to obtain an air card due to his negligence. Traveling has never been simple for him, he claims.

The Accidental Tourist is a realistic fiction novel created in the United States. The book is unlike other works of American literature that aim to depict the moral landscape of postwar America. Anne Tyler, on the other hand, captures the moments that influence people’s lives. Tyler tells the story of a person’s struggle to cope with ordinary emotions. Her fiction isn’t historical, and she doesn’t try to blend modern society into it. Her writing style and subject matter are both straightforward but intelligent. Her story appeals to men since it includes a male protagonist who is fighting with his emotions. The Accidental Tourist is a subtle comedy and a love tale, but the focus is on personal emotional growth and healing as a result of bereavement. Tyler hopes to remind her readers of the goodness in regular people in her upbeat tale.


The title suggests that the story is about an accidental tourist who finds himself in uncomfortable or embarrassing situations while on tourist. When reading the text, one discovers that the tourist, Bill Bryson, travels regularly yet always ends up in an accident. He does not learn from his errors and continues to make the same errors. He forgets to put his frequent flyer card where it belongs, spills drinks while reaching for one, leaves a large portion of his coat outside while closing the car door, smudges his light-colored trousers several times without realising it, and many other seemingly insignificant things cannot be handled by him without making a mess. The title “The Accidental Tourist” is suitable since it’s entertaining to see Bryson get into accidents all the time at a time when travel is so accessible that it’s made the world seem small.

Value Points

✒️ The most difficult task for the narrator is surviving in the actual world. In a cinema, he was unable to locate the restroom and even forgot his room number.

✒️ He knew his card was in his carry-on bag, slung around his neck, at Logan Airport in Boston.

✒️ He yanked the bag’s zip in frustration when it became stuck. However, it eventually gave way, and the contents of the bag were scattered across a vast region.

✒️ The narrator found air travel to be quite perplexing. Someone pushed him from behind as he stooped over to tie his shoelace, pinning him to the ground.

✒️ He once dumped two soft drinks on a lady’s lap.

✒️ He kept his pen in his lips for the flight. Sadly, it leaked, turning his mouth, tongue, teeth, chin, and gums navy blue.

✒️ To earn flyer miles, he must travel 1,00,000 miles each year. However, the airline clerk informed him that he was not permitted to obtain them.

✒️ Because the ticket was issued in the name of B. Bryson, he was not eligible for frequent flyer miles. W. Bryson’s name, however, appeared on the card.

✒️ The narrator was denied a first-class flight to Bali.


Bill Bryson travelled frequently by plane. His plane travels often leave him feeling anxious. In this lesson, the author discusses some of his travel-related experiences. He claims that he once travelled to England with his family. He was carrying a carry-on bag.

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The difficulty began at the airport when the check-in personnel requested that he unzip the suitcase. He attempted to open the bag’s zipper but was unsuccessful. He tugged harder, and the rope broke. The contents of the bag fell out in a fluttering cascade. The newspaper clippings, various documents, pipe tobacco tin, magazines, passport, and coins were scattered over an area roughly the size of a tennis court.

Then he shares another event he has had. He claims that he once bent over to tie his shoelace on an aeroplane. Just as someone in front of him reclined his seat to its furthest extent, he found himself caught helplessly in the crash position. He was only able to extricate himself by tearing at the leg of the man seated next to him.

On a separate occasion, he spilled a soft drink into a lady’s lap. He repeatedly engaged in this mischief. However, this was hardly his worst flight experience. According to him, his worst encounter occurred during an aeroplane ride. He claims to have been writing in a notebook. he struck up a discussion with the lovely young lady seated next to him. He was sucking on the end of his pen. When he went to the restroom after approximately 20 minutes, he noticed that the pen had leaked, and his mouth, chin, tongue, teeth, and gums were suddenly navy blue and would remain thus for several days.

Despite his frequent flying, he never received an air card. Ile claims that he used to fly 100,000 miles a year but was unable to obtain an air card due to his negligence or other factors.

Setting and Structure

Like many of Anne Tyler’s works, The Accidental Tourist is set in Baltimore and focuses on ordinary persons and the events that define them. Anne Tyler takes the reader on a tour through pre-1985 Baltimore, while presenting the human struggle to endure life’s unavoidable realities, including family, death, and love. Twenty chapters make up The Accidental Tourist. The progression of storyline and themes mirrors the phases of mourning, which are denial, suffering, idealisation, and transference.

In the first five chapters of the work, Macon and the incidents that have led to his current mental state are introduced to the reader. His unstable upbringing with a flighty mother and “stodgy” brothers and sister, as well as his marriage to Sarah and the death of their son, Ethan, have all led to his existence as an orderly, emotionally contained man. Edward’s misbehaviour affects Macon’s life of inactivity once he breaks his leg and relocates to his grandfather’s house, despite the fact that he is satisfied with being completely cut off from the outside world. When Muriel begins to train Edward, Macon is compelled to dig under the surface of a different way of life as Muriel shares her own experiences to him. Macon begins to change, and his family begins to view him with suspicion. However, Muriel and Julian, his boss, accept his personal changes, and Macon himself eventually accepts them as well. Despite briefly returning to his spouse and home, he ultimately realises his improved personal power and vows to pursue his new life with Muriel. Macon’s ultimate decision in Paris is not simple, but it is conclusive indication that he has completed the emotional healing process.

Questions and Answers of Accidental Tourist

Read the following extracts and answer the questions that follow in one or two lines.

The zip on the bag was jammed. So I pulled on it and yanked at it, with grunts and frowns and increasing consternation. I kept this up for some minutes but it wouldn’t budge, so I pulled harder and harder.

1.Which bag is being referred to in this extract?
Ans: When Bryson and his family arrived at Logan Airport in Boston on their way to Europe, he had a carry-on bag slung around his neck. This is the bag that is being referred to in this context.

2. What had happened to the zip on the bag?
Ans: The zip of the bag had become stuck, and despite Bryson’s best attempts, it was not possible to unzip the bag.

3. Why did Bryson want to open the bag?
Ans: Bryson wanted to open the bag to take out his frequent flyer card and avail its benefits.

4. What happened when Bryson pull harder and harder at the zip?
Ans: When Bryson pulled harder and harder at the zip, the bag gave way abruptly and its entire contents spilt over, creating a mess.

Very Short Answer Type Questions

I. Who was Bill Bryson?
Ans. Bill Bryson was a frequent air traveller.

2. How did Bill Bryson find himself during his air travels?
Ans. He found himself always uneasy during his air travels.

3. Where was Bill going when the zip of his carry bag broke?
Ans. At that time he was going to England.

4. What happened when the zip of the bag gave way?
Ans. Everything within the hag-newspaper cuttings, other loose papers, tin pipe tobacco, magazines, passport. English money-ejected on the road.

5. What happened to Bill’s finger?
Ans. Bill gashed his finger on the zip and blood was shedding in a lavish manner.

6. Why did Bill lean over in the plane?
Ans. He leaned over in the plane to tie a shoelace.

7. What did Bill do to the lady travelling with him on one of his plane journeys?
Ans. He knocked a soft drink over the lap of the lady twice.

8. What happened when Bill’s pen leaked?
Ans. His mouth, Chin, tongue. teeth and gums were now a striking scrub-resistant navy blue.

9. Who was the accidental tourist?
Ans. Bill Bryson was the accidental tourist.

10. What type of person was Bill Bryson? Ans. He was a confused person.


Q.1. What does Bill Bryson tell us about his habit of getting confused?
Ans. Bill Bryson states that he is easily puzzled by the activities that others find enjoyable. He claims he cannot remember the details for long. He continually fails to remember them. When he is staying at a hotel, he must visit the front desk twice or thrice to inquire about his room number, as he describes.

Q.2. What happened at London Airport when the author was going to England on a long journey with family?
Ans. When the author was embarking on a lengthy journey to England, he encountered problems at the London Airport. His business card was in the carry-on luggage. When he attempted to unzip it, he was unsuccessful due to a jammed zipper. When he tugged it vigorously, it snapped and all of the contents of the bag fell to the ground.

Q.3. Narrate briefly the incident of spilling a soft drink on to a co-passenger in a plane by the author.
Ans. During one of his travels, the author spilled drink on the lap of the lovely lady seated next to him. The flight attendant attended to her cleanliness. The attendant handed him a replacement drink, which he once again spilled on the woman. The woman regarded him with a stupefied gaze.

Q.4. What two reasons does Bill Bryson give for the absence of air miles cards with the hint?
Ans. He claims to be a regular flyer. He must fly one million miles annually. However, he lacks additional air miles cards. Because he forgets to request air miles while purchasing a ticket. And occasionally, the air-station clerk provides an explanation for the unavailability of air miles cards.

Q. 5. What is the ‘most outstanding thing’ that the writer, Bill Bryson, thinks he is not good at? What does this reveal about Bryon’s traits?
Ans: The author Bill Bryson believes that living in the actual world is the “most outstanding thing” he is not good at. This demonstrates that he is so preoccupied with his own ideas that he fails to behave normally and causes accidents.


Q.1.How would you describe Bill Bryson as an accidental tourist? Give two instances from the test.
Ans. Bill Bryson was such a tourist who remained almost all the year round on an aeroplane. Many accidents take place with him. So he is called an accidental tourist. The two incidents from the text are mentioned below.

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Bill Bryson was a tourist who spent nearly the entire year on an aeroplane. He is involved in numerous accidents. Therefore, he is termed an accidental tourist. The two events from the text are listed below.

i) When his carry-on bag’s zipper breaks, all of his belongings spill out. The newspaper clippings and other items tumble downward in a fluttering manner. The coins are tossed around randomly. The tobacco tin without a lid ejects its contents in a frantic manner. About the size of a tennis court, these creatures are dispersed across this area.

(ii) During one of his trips, the author spilled soda on the lap of a lovely woman sitting next to him. She was cleaned up by the flight attendant. The attendant handed him a new drink, and he once again threw it at the woman. The woman regarded him with an expression of astonishment.

Q. 2. Bring out the humour in the story “The Accidental Tourist”.
Ans: “The Accidental Tourist” is a humorous story of the various mishaps brought on by a confused and clumsy individual. The author who narrates the incidents, Bill Bryson, discusses his experiences in a humorous manner. In describing how he disorganised the contents of his carry-on luggage while searching for his frequent flyer miles card, he refers to the contents as “a hundred meticulously organised paperwork.” When he cuts his finger on the zipper and sees his own blood, he justifies his hysteria. The fact that he is pinning himself in a crash posture while tying his shoelaces is yet another humorous occurrence. When he thoughtfully sucked on the end of his pen, he turned his mouth, chin, tongue, teeth, and gums navy blue. He resembled a clown due to his ink-stained mouth. In addition, the ‘essential ideas’ he describes were simply reminders to purchase socks and carefully hold drinks. The tongue-in-cheek tone of the anecdote is enhanced by his wife’s request that his children open food containers for him. His inability to receive frequent flyer points because the name on the card did not match the name on the ticket is yet another humorous incident. His explanation for not travelling to Bali, namely that he cannot go so long without food, is really humorous.

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