Although exploring the world is an exciting thing to do, there are quite a few negative connotations that come attached to the word ‘tourist’, making us all want to avoid the title as much as possible. When you’re abroad, you’re going to be an outsider from time to time, but you can do your best to avoid the horrible tourist catastrophes that many people place themselves into.
Tip Number 1: Avoid Standing around Gaping
[quote_right]“Oh my gosh, look at that interesting bit of pavement!”[/quote_right]When you’re in a beautiful new location, the chances are that there’ll be a moment every now and again where you really need to stop and stare, take the time to soak in the scenery, discuss where to go next with your friends, or even snap a couple of memorable photos to stick in your scrapbook back home. However, there’s a difference between appreciating your surroundings, and simply parking yourself in the middle of the street to blink wordlessly at the beauty around you. If you and your friends simply stop walking in the middle of a busy area to chat about how inspiring a certain building or waterfall is, then you’re just asking for trouble. If you need a moment to pause, pull away from the crowd and find a more secluded spot where you’re not going to be in anyone else’s way. Duck into a café if you have to, or just find a spot on the nearest bench. Whatever you do, don’t make the locals trip over you trying to get past just because you’ve spotted a perfect Facebook picture moment.
Tip Number 2: Figure out the Currency
[quote_right]I personally find Australian currency to be very appealing[/quote_right]A lot of the time, if you’re jetting off to somewhere foreign, part of the experience will be trying out all the new and colourful cash that different countries have. You will need to familiarize yourself with a few aspects to do with the currency before you arrive at your destination if you want to avoid looking ridiculous standing around in a shop, trying to figure out if you’re paying too much or too little. First of all, work out the exchange rate so that you don’t have to ask the question “How much is this worth in [insert local currency here]?” If you feel as though you might forget, try making a small note on your phone so that at least you can look as though you’re sending a text when you’re trying to figure out how much cookies cost in your local cash.
Tip Number 3: Banish the Stereotype
[quote_right]Please don’t be this guy. It’s not a good look.[/quote_right] We all know how easy it can be to get totally overwhelmed by new surroundings. Excitement gets the best of us at the worst of times, and can leave us feeling giddy, hanging off lampposts, and singing in the rain. However, it’s important to remember that you are a visitor in a different part of the world, and as your parents might have told you when you were younger, you’re representing your home country when you’re away. This means that you shouldn’t be giving everyone the impression that the people from your home town are obnoxious, drunken idiots. Don’t be loud and annoying, don’t be spilling drinks on people or throwing things around. Basically, don’t be the person that everyone hates on holiday. Another good idea to avoid the stereotypes is to make sure you don’t dress the part. Those flowery Hawaiian shirts might be a great idea in some places, like Florida, but you’re not going to get away with wearing that in the streets of Russia. Think your wardrobe choices through, and definitely don’t go for t-shirts that say touristy things like ‘I Heart the Big Apple.’ It’s not cute. Trust me.
Tip Number 4: Do the Homework on Language and Customs
[quote_right]The idea of an afternoon nap is one I can really get behind.[/quote_right]It never hurts to get a bit of background research about the area that you’ll be visiting. Sometimes, just knowing the local customs can go a long way to preventing you from sticking out like a sore thumb and offending the locals. For example, you’re going to look pretty silly if you try to go out and get a meal in Spain around the same time everyone is closing up shop for his or her Siesta. Etiquette varies from place to place around the world, and just because you’re from somewhere else doesn’t mean you don’t have to pay attention to what might be expected from you. Remember that you’re going to get a weird look if you eat with your left hand in India, or start wearing a top-hat everywhere in Britain. Learning the language can come in handy here too. You don’t have to know absolutely every word of a language because you’re visiting a new country, but knowing a few key phrases like ‘Where’s the nearest bathroom’, and ‘please’, or ‘thank you’ can help to make you seem a little less clueless.
Tip Number 5: Keep Your Face Out of the Map
[quote_right]“So I was in my map…”[/quote_right]
Those little guides and maps that you can pick up at the most frequently visited tourist locations around the world are usually quite helpful if you want to make sure you don’t take an unnecessary trip into an abandoned alleyway or old dried up lake. However, by walking around with your face in a guidebook, you’re going to immediately stand out as a massive tourist, as well as advertising yourself as someone who has absolutely no idea where they’re going or what they’re doing. This can be particularly dangerous sometimes, as it will single you out as an easy target for scammers and pickpockets. In order to avoid this problem, try to take the time to study a few maps before you go out onto the streets. Save notes onto your phone or check on map application there instead if you feel like you’re starting to get lost.