Lets face it… we all goof up when we go abroad. And of course there is no guidebook to behaving perfectly when you travel across the sees or far and wide. Here, we proudly present to you, a small and effective guide on how to be perfect tourists and not the loud American caricatures of tourists which some countries portray us to be. After all, we are known for our hospitality when people of other countries visit our nation. But we all have heard unfortunate stories of the person who wore a ‘I’m with Stupid’ shirt to a museum of tolerance or that family who insists on visiting every McDonalds while vacationing in Europe. Let’s all learn from the mistakes of others and make sure that we are the best-behaved citizens when visiting foreign shores.
Acting and Dressing Like Tourists
One golden rule of travelling is that you need to blend in and conform with the people around you. It would be odd to stick out when you are not in your home country. And stick out you will with your Hawaiian shirt, socks with sandals combination, fanny packs and whatnot! You are not meant to be an expert in the country’s tradition but the locals would appreciate if you take the pain to dress up like them and show interest towards their culture.
Carrying wads of cash and then taking it out to pay for things and services will get you nowhere. It will, however, make you a favorite of pickpockets and thugs. This applies to scenarios when you need to withdraw cash from ATMs which may be frequented by tourists as the criminals may lie in wait for you to withdraw a lot of local currency and then jump you. Try to locate ATMs used by locals, withdraw small amounts of cash and keep an eye out for suspicious people. While you’re at it, you may also want to keep your flashy jewelry, wristwatch and electronics safe too.
Actively seeking out and ordering American food
Try not being that person who orders for a deep-dish pizza in Italy, why not just enjoy the authentic stuff! It is an absolute injustice that we often travel thousands of miles from home but ignore the local cuisine in favor of the familiar. Missing out on local food is missing out on a huge piece of the country’s culture. So don’t use the Internet to search for an American fast food chain nearby and instead roam about the city or town to sample the best street foods and local delicacies!
Not making an effort to learn a few foreign phrases
Even though English is spoken all over the world, don’t get lazy enough to not make an effort to pick up a few common phrases which may help you get brownie points with the locals. Don’t always presume that everyone speaks English or will understand your accent and everything you say. Avoid a ‘lost in translation’ situation and see the surprise on the faces of the locals when you suddenly break out in Italian or German or even Hindi. Start with your Hellos, Thank Yous and Goodbyes.
Carrying Home Souvenirs that are not supposed to be taken
Beware when buying antiques from a foreign country and as few countries such as Egypt, Turkey and Mexico prohibit it under strict laws. If you are suspected of carrying a souvenir which is suspected of being a national treasure, chances are you will be arrested. If you are carrying a reproduction of a famous antique, get a bill/receipt from the seller, stating the same.
Not doing research on a country’s customs and traditions
Study a country’s traditions, just so that you don’t come across as arrogant and uncultured in a foreign country. Worse yet, you might offend someone unknowingly. Focus on the foreign country’s customs with regards to tipping or leaving behind money (on the table or in hand), giving gifts, greeting, body language, food and handshakes.
Relying heavily on plastic cash
If you’re planning on not carrying any cash and want to pay for a everything with your credit card; please avoid this. The use of plastic cash is more prevalent in the US than it is in other countries and may not be accepted everywhere. It would be wise to carry a few international cards with you but be prepared to exchange and use the local currency more often.
Packing items, which you are not supposed to
We can’t help stressing on this enough. While abroad, the immigration laws are quite strict and you could be jailed for carrying weapons, switchblades, live animals and even fruits and vegetables! Clean out your suitcase before you pack for your trip abroad, make sure to pack it yourself so you’ll know what you’ve put into your bag and never ever carry or wait on for anybody else’s bag. If it’s not yours, ditch it as you may not be sure of it’s contents.
Forgetting that they represent their country when abroad
Like people on this planet, American tourists come in two varieties; good and bad. The bad kinds are the ones who have led to the creation of the stereotypical image of a loud, obnoxious and privileged American traveller. It would be great if you do not prove this stereotype correct when you travel alone, or with your famines. Be patient, courteous and appreciative in general when you visit to foreign countries. After all, you are an ambassador of our great nation when you travel.