The Good Tourist – Proper Travelling Etiquette

Let’s assume you have decided where to go on your next relaxing vacation. All your bags and stuff are set, as well as your tickets and accommodations. But hold on, before stepping foot outside your lovely house and jumping in the next plane or cruise ship, be sure you’ve packed along your manners in your luggage.
That’s right. Even tourists need to have etiquette. While travelling is primarily about fun and leisure, it’s also about learning new cultures and interacting with people from around the globe. This interaction influences how other cultures view you in turn, as the representative of your own country.
Don’t add up to the usual negative connotation of tourists being insensitive and arrogant. Be the best representative of your homeland, and leave them a great impression that they will cherish for a lifetime.
Below are five tips to avoid playing the role of the dumb tourist, and make locals remember you long after you’ve left.
BE GIVING, NOT GULLIBLE – Be generous if your budget allows it, especially if the exchange rate is agreeable. However, set limits on your generosity. There are always people and establishments cashing in on unsuspecting tourists, by jacking up prices to unreasonable levels.
You can always be generous by leaving some tip to the hard-working waiters and great cooks. However, if the amount you already paid is enough to pay the tip, save your money for the next worthy person who just might need it. You can also check if they already added a service charge in your bill. In this way, it’s already a tip.
KNOW THE RULES – Each country carries its own distinct law, ranging from the logical to the comically absurd. For instance, Westerners will be surprised to know that some emirates in the UAE don’t allow unmarried couples to sleep in the same room. In Switzerland, meanwhile, naturists will find it’s illegal to climb the Alps in the nude. So make sure to hit up Google, and find out the legal twists and turns in the locality.
R.E.S.P.E.C.T – There are written laws, and there are also unwritten ones, but it doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be heeded all the same. Learn the appropriate dress codes; what’s appropriate in your country may be inappropriate in some. You may not necessarily end up hearing your rights read to you for breaking a certain social taboo, but you may very well end up hearing something worse from some dude you offended unknowingly.
EXCESS BAGGAGE – It’s always wise not to leave your valuables unattended, but what’s never wise is having your bags press someone’s face against the subway door or bus window. While it’s typical of campers or hikers to carry a heavy load on their backpacks, but be mindful of those behind you, especially in crowded places.
It happens most of the time when you ride the bus or the local trains on a rush hour. In Asian countries like China and Singapore, riding the train is like being in a sardine can-extra crowded and at times with extra grease in a sunny hot weather (gross!). So if you plan to carry your backpack with you, be sensitive enough to carry it in your front, or place it somewhere where it won’t be space-consuming.
WATCH YOUR LANGUAGE-To prevent being misunderstood by the locals, think before you talk. No matter how irritated you are with the guy sitting next to you, be sure your words won’t be taken the wrong way. Just to give you a heads up, some countries have better grasp of other languages aside from their mother tongue. Filipinos, for instance, are known to be one of the best English-speaking countries in Asia, while a few people from Indonesia speak fluent Dutch. Thus, to avoid being branded as the arrogant tourist, hold your tongue before you speak.
Remember that when you travel, the interaction goes both ways. While you merrily snap away, the locals are taking their own mental snapshots of you. So bring your best foot forward. Project an image that they won’t forget, long after you’re back in your cubicle.