After traveling for so many years I realise how at first I must have been a terrible tourist, I wasn’t trying to be a bad traveler it is just that I wasn’t aware of what to do and how I should be behaving. I see young people making the same errors these days but I don’t judge them because I’m aware that if they knew they were doing things wrong they’d probably stop.
I would say that 99% of tourists want to be responsible and give a good impression of themselves, they certainly don’t want to have a negative impact on the places they visit. So what can we do to make sure we’re good tourists? Well, I know we can’t be having orientation sessions before we get on the plane but there are a few very simple rules to follow that will put you in a good position.
These are simple things that I do when I’m on the road and I always tell friends/family to do the same. Whenever I tell people they’re happy to know what I think and they also very much agree.
So here are my 3 way to become a good tourist:
Pay What You’re Happy With
I know that when you’re traveling on a budget saving money is extremely important and watching what you spend is essential. However, I always pay what I’m happy with – that doesn’t mean I over pay, it just means I don’t try to barter down someone as low as I possibly can. The best example of this is in local markets and with tuk tuks, if you’re buying a t shirt and the price is $5 I’m happy with that so getting an extra dollar of isn’t going to change my life but that dollar might mean a lot to the person selling it to me. There’s no prize for getting the price so low that someone is making hardly any profit and it certainly doesn’t make me feel good about myself.
Respecting local culture is one thing we should all do when traveling the world. I have learnt this when traveling in south east Asia which is predominantly Buddhist, that means you’re going to be visiting lots of temples. Visiting temples comes with rules that if you don’t follow can really upset local people. So must always take your shoes off, wear appropriate clothing and don’t take inappropriate photos. I’ve seen many Facebook posts from Thai people complaining how tourists don’t respect their Buddhist culture, so do your research before you go. Also, if you’re not on a beach make sure you’re wearing a shirt, walking around with a shirt off might make sense because it’s hot but did you know that in many cultures it’s extremely disrespectful.
Mix With Locals
When I fist started traveling solo it was quite daunting and I found myself regularly hanging out with fellow travellers and hardly chatting much to local people. There’s nothing wrong with mixing with fellow travellers, but don’t go to the other side of the world and live in a bubble because you can meet the same people back home. By mixing with local people you will learn more about the place and also find out some awesome tips which will add to your experience.