How to be a good tourist
If you can’t recognize a tourist, you are one
Summer vacations, road trips, and weekends with friends and family are what we live for. Travel creates the best memories a person can have, and in order to make those, you have to start with quality experiences. Next time you spin the globe, just remember these few things:
Learn the language basics
I’m not saying to take 6+ years of language classes before traveling to another country, but do take the time to flip through a pocket translator, or even browse the beloved Google Translate, to know what to say during daily interactions. You don’t want to head to Paris, and pee your pants because you didn’t know how to ask where the bathroom was in French. Also, don’t expect the people in the country you are exploring to understand you. This is their home, and while there is a good chance they may know what you are trying to say, there is also a good chance they may not. Trying to use the language is a sign of respect, as effort means you truly want to be there. So, take a sec to learn how to say “Good morning!” in Catalan, the next time you head to Barcelona.
Avoid being pick-pocketed
Seems easy to do, but just know that pick-pockets are professionals. They come in every form, so watch out! Old ladies who look like they would make you banana bread, children who want to play soccer with you, and even the neighborhood dog – ALL UNTRUSTWORTHY. Easy things you can do to avoid being targeted include putting little luggage locks on your backpack and purse zippers, and not putting anything in your back pockets. Basically, make it as hard as possible for someone to steal your phone, full of cute cat pics and classy nudes.
Interact with the locals
During your time in the country of your choice, be sure to discover local restaurants. Don’t walk down the beautiful streets in Ireland, only to head straight for McDonald’s, because you know for a fact you love those dank fries. Be sure to explore the side streets, and find that hidden gem of a cafe to tell all of your friends about. When you find the neighborhood hotspots, you’ll receive an experience more rich than you would ever think. Local people love chatting with you, and hearing about the life you lead in another country, especially if you have a story to tell.
Know how to turn up
Nothing is worse than walking into a party, only to realize that you are completely over or under dressed. To avoid this awkward situation, ask friends, or even Google, what the usual ‘night out’ ensemble looks like in that country. Chances are, you’ll want to look a bit more polished than your typical Frat-urday self. Also, note that in most countries outside of the US, people don’t drink to get drunk, but rather because it’s a part of their culture. So, maybe it’s best to not pre-game the pre-game just this once.
Chances are, if you look like a tourist, you are a tourist. Locals can spot you from a mile away with your loud rambunctiousness, and they want none of it, so keep your volume in check. Also, know the cultural myths of the country you are visiting. For example, if you are headed to Spain, don’t assume everyone sips sangria all afternoon during their daily siesta.
Be well read on the country’s issues
Be smart. It would be a pretty bad idea to take a trip to Greece or Turkey right now. Know the political situation, and know about the current social issues of your destination. Does the city want to become an independent nation like Barcelona? Does the country want to enforce a curfew for cats and dogs like Japan? Search the country’s trending topics on Twitter to get an idea of what’s going on.