So among millions and millions of articles and blogs showering you with tips of how to be a tourist and what to do to get the most out of your travels, there are but only a few, mostly ignored, ones on what not to do as a tourist. You see humans have a little affinity for destruction, we see beauty, we touch beauty, and then we smash beauty against the wall so hard the wall starts weeping. Admittedly, some end up doing stuff that is bafflingly stupid out of the blissfully ignorant curiosity of a learning traveller. So my entitled little gremlins, here is my contribution to inform you of only a few of many things not to do as a typical tourist;
Yes, if the person you’re communicating with doesn’t comprehend English, the only logical thing for you to do is to speak louder. If they still fail to understand you, just scream it in their face, they’ll get what you’re trying to inform them of soon enough. If they continue to pretend to be ignorant they’re probably un-educated Middle Eastern spies. And if you think Americans are the only ones blameworthy of this atrocity, think again my lovely Europeans.
Look, I get it. Temptation such as this is hard to resist. Telling you to not inappropriately touch the bronze statue of Juliet, the statue on the Turpan Flaming Mountain or Victor Noir’s statue is like giving a child candy and telling them not to eat it. But you’re not a child, and those century old statues are not candies and this is one of those things not to do as a typical tourist. A friendly suggestion would be that you do such things in the privacy of your room. And no, that does not make a cool Facebook photo.
Adapting to a new place can be tough, especially so if you’re on the move. The cultural differences can be shocking and the diversity in basic necessities from food to actual toilets can be difficult to adjust to. Language barriers are a different topic entirely. But if you expect that every local would be falling on their hands and knees begging to be of your service simply because you’re from another place, you should probably spend the summer with your mom.
Cultural appropriation is a thing. So is political correctness. Tedious, I know. However, whether you like it or not, when you visit another country you unwittingly become the ambassador of your entire people. Everything you say or do will come back to them. So one of the things not to do as a typical tourist would be to not disrespect anyone’s cultures and disgrace your ancestors. Wear appropriate clothes, you can keep them comfortable but if the tradition demands you to cover your thighs, cover your goddamn hairy thighs. Also, tread very carefully on religious zones, often the most beautiful and the easiest places to mess up.
“The grass is much greener in my backyard” “The girls are so much prettier” “The sky is much bluer” “The air is much airier” No. Please stop, nobody cares. There is not a single person on the planet who gives an actual damn about the shade of your lawn or why you have girls in your backyard. Even the person empathetically nodding is thinking about their laundry list or what to eat for lunch right now. Stop talking for a few seconds and appreciate the view. Look around and find the things that will make the trip worth the money you or whoever you made pay for it.
After all that’s said and done, don’t be too stressed out either. No matter what, you are probably glaringly obvious as a tourist and that’s ok, sometimes you can try the things not to do as a typical tourist because many people will give you a margin to make mistakes and that is after all how we learn best.
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