Tourists are the ones who travel on huge buses and wear Aloha shirts. They follow guides who wave flags on long poles and they wear sneakers and fanny packs and take photographs of everything, as if that’s the only way they are going to remember where they’ve been. It’s Tuesday, it must be Belgium, right?
Of course this is not true of all tourists but I’d wager that many of you are smiling at my caricature.
I’ve seen a lot of tourists (some good, many bad) on my travels. Good tourists endear themselves to the local people, and to other tourists. They appreciate new cultures and customs and share their own in a respectful way. They enjoy the world and appreciate all its differences. It’s not hard to be a good tourist, just don’t do any of the things bad tourists do.
Don’t talk loudly about how everything is better/cheaper/cleaner at home.
Being a tourist means you are probably not at home (although being a local tourist can be a lot of fun) and sometimes your experience will be good and sometimes it won’t. Soak it all up and be honest and polite when writing your review on Trip Advisor.
When you are pulling your luggage along a crowded street or through a busy station, don’t interrupt the flow of traffic to consult your map or to take a rest. The people who are going about their business will probably give you a wide berth because they don’t want to get snagged by your suitcase wheels or your over-sized rucksack but remember they know where they are going and it’s not their fault that you don’t.
This one is for English speakers, don’t raise your voice when speaking to someone who doesn’t understand what you are saying. They are not hard of hearing. Try speaking slowly and more clearly instead.
Don’t assume that someone who doesn’t speak English well doesn’t understand it. Keep your candid comments for behind closed doors or, even better, to yourself.
Don’t make Skype calls in a cafe/library/any public place unless you want your story to appear in a blog by a writer sitting at the next table. I’m talking to you angry man in Culpepper, Virginia complaining about your medical mistreatment. I feel for you but it’s too much information.
Don’t take your shoes off in public. Your feet might be aching from walking all day but it’s just not cool.
By all means visit all the tourist attractions but be prepared for hiked up prices, crowds, waiting in lines and jostling to get a good photograph. It’s just what happens at busy spots so don’t act like you’re surprised and don’t complain.
Don’t stand on the left side of escalators and moving walkways, and don’t walk in cycle lanes.
Don’t disrespect local people by taking intrusive photographs of them, their families or their homes without asking for permission first.
Don’t be shy to ask questions. We local tourists love to help 🙂