The second you step off the plane, bus or train in a new place you instantly become a representative of your country. That means your behavior — good or bad — reflects not just on you, but on your countries reputation with locals and other travelers alike. There are some countries who are looking to lock down their borders or restrict their numbers after too many badly behaved tourists. Don’t be one of those guys! Be a well-behaved tourist.
Now, we know that we are lucky. Kiwis are often welcomed to new places with open arms, however, we have certainly seen some pretty nasty behavior from our fellow tourists on our travels. Here are some tips to help keep you in the good books with everyone.
8 awesome tips on being a well-behved tourist:
Take a lead from the locals and for the love of all things holy, don’t just stop.
Help the flow of pedestrian traffic in the city by stepping in line with the locals. This means paying attention to cycleways, pedestrian crossings, and the traffic. That way everyone can get where they’re going. While we’re on the topic of moving around, use some common sense and don’t stop at vital movement points like the top of escalators. Keep going until you can stop out of the way of everyone else.
Learn to say hello and thank you in the local language.
This is great for a number of reasons. First, you get some insight into a new language (and maybe extra points at your next pub quiz). Second, it makes people feel good to know you’ve tried to speak their language, because language is part of peoples identity. And third, it makes it pretty obvious that you speak some other native tongue like English, and that your interaction will be much easier for everyone involved if they speak English too. All that and it’s much nicer than flat out saying “Do you speak English?”.
Don’t be *that* guy if they don’t speak your language.
If the person you’re talking to doesn’t speak your language, don’t just talk louder and slower at them – they’re not deaf! Think about how you might communicate your message in a different way. This is part of the joy of travel and will help you become a better communicator.
Take the chance to learn something new.
Ask questions. Take a tour. Talk to a local. Find out something that you can share when you leave. I’ve learned more about tax, religion, food, and history in my travels than from any TV show or university lecture.
Take your time and be flexible.
There is no need to push to get photos or rush to the front of the queue for a bus – you’ll all get a turn! Remember, you’re on holiday. Take a deep breath, enjoy each minute and hey, if something doesn’t quite work out, that’s OK too. You can’t control the weather, the exchange rate or the local supermarkets opening hours. Just make smart plans, like not taking a bus to a new city to catch a plane that very same day….
Something may seem weird or gross to you, but it’s important that you take the time to understand why it is the way it is. Don’t just put your #middleclass #western #female #white #whateverotherhashtagclassifications lens over it and decide its wrong. The world is a cool, diverse place with lots of lessons to learn.
You’ll probably end up checking out a church, temple, synagogue, cemetery or other significant spots on your travels. Don’t whoop and holler, don’t tread on sacred stuff, don’t interrupt people who are there doing their thing (you know, praying, mourning, cleaning…)…basically, don’t be a dick.
Don’t just stick to the blocks around your hotel, Airbnb, local Starbucks or McDonalds. Wander, explore, seek and enjoy.
So…have I missed an important rule? Let me know in the comments below.