There are all sorts of travel tips online. Almost every single travel blogger has done at least one general post sharing their tips. Yesterday Brandy of It’s One World, Travel! and I were chatting, and I decided to do a different kind of travel tips post. Hope they’re helpful to you.
Absolute #1, most important tip of all time!
Are you ready? Maybe I should save this one for last so you’ll read the whole post and not muck with my bounce rate. Oh, what the hell: Don’t. Be. A. Dick.
Seriously! Yes, they exist all over the world and in all walks of life, but they’re even more irritating when they travel. There are a few nationalities that make hoteliers and others in the travel industry cringe. One of them is my country of origin. When I hear people complaining about travelers they have met, I can usually predict the offender’s nationality before they’ve said too much. So, please stop it.
Yes, I wanted to yell and scream at the taxi drivers in Bangkok just like many other visitors. I got sick of drivers refusing to obey the law and turn the damn meter on instead of trying to charge me $8-10 USD MORE than the metered fare. C’mon dudes! There’s a difference between overcharging the “wealthy white foreigner” and flat out thievery. These guys blur that line something horrid.
But did I yell at them, swear, and tell them I’ll make sure to let everyone know to never come to Bangkok? Nope. Instead, I shut the door and hailed another taxi (or 10), remained calm, and did what every technology-loving person does—I saved my rant for my blog and Facebook and Twitter.
“Look at the map”
When I was working in Ecuador as a very unseasoned traveler way back when, I would occasionally get perplexed or frustrated with what I felt was silly inefficiency or ridiculous bureaucracy. The common response from office mates was “Look at the map.”
In other words, you aren’t in your home country anymore. Yeah, it’s different. That’s part of the fun! Maybe you think you know a better way. So what! Learn to be amused by it, and you’ll have a much better experience.
And when you’re scratching your head as to why it takes 4 different people to sell you that note pad you just bought, consider those are at least 3 people who wouldn’t have a job otherwise. It isn’t always about efficiency.
Not talking about phones here.
I cringe every time I hear a touron (thank Matt of LandLopers for that term) yelling at a local when there is a communication problem.
If I want you to understand a language you don’t understand, do you think it will help if I turn the volume up another five levels? Of course not! So yelling louder to the poor person struggling to understand your language only makes you seem like a big A-hole. And, frankly, it’s a well-earned judgment.
Try enunciating more carefully. Try a bit of circumlocution. Act it out. Find something you can point to. There are plenty of ways to work around language barriers respectfully, and some of them make for great stories later on, like my friend who had to pantomime her need for hemorrhoid cream.
Now that’s one I want to see on video!
Oh, those lovely buggers. They’re irritating enough on a short holiday, but try dealing with them day after day after sodded day during long-term travel. Some are great and will leave you alone if you politely smile and say no thanks. Others will grab onto you, follow you, and yell horrible things about your mother as you walk away. It’s part of the travel experience, unfortunately. Especially if you’re in prominent tourist areas or places that have a lot of poverty.
Yelling at them, as I saw a man do while in Peru, makes you a dick. Sometimes so are the touts, but that whole two wrongs thing applies.
Please don’t give them money! I know it’s hard, especially when a doe-eyed youngster with a huge smile comes up and calls you Auntie or Uncle and tells you how hungry they are. Don’t buy their trinkets, either. You are truly doing them a disadvantage. If you simply have to do SOMETHING, try buying them some food or paying them to do a small errand for you instead.
Trip Advisor has become a big thing. I know some people who rely on it like it’s the Bible for travel. While the reviews can be helpful, you often have to pick through a lot of them to find the useful information. For instance, I’ve seen people reduce a score because a place “needs updating” or “could use a paint job.” Are you kidding me?
“Staff didn’t speak a lot of English.” Sure, it’s uber helpful when they do, but I’m not going to give a place poor marks because of that.
What really matters? If you had bed bugs, by all means put that in the review. There was no hot water as advertised, you mentioned it to staff, and they didn’t give a crap? Ok, that’s fair. Ditto if they advertise services and won’t deliver on them.
But be realistic, too. If you’re securing a room at a 1-star hotel, don’t expect 5-star resort amenities, surroundings, or services. Always attempt to resolve the situation. Ask for a manager, etc. If that doesn’t work, or they make you jump through a bunch of hoops, blast away!
I gotta say, though, my favorite latest review included this comment: “Bring your own toothbrush. They won’t give you one.”
This is de rigueur for some cultures.They aren’t trying to screw you when they begin with a crazy price. You’re expected to haggle.
And, sure, some ARE trying to screw you (see earlier comment regarding Bangkok taxi drivers). Can’t blame a guy for trying, though. When someone asks me “Well, how much do you want to pay?” my answer is “Nothing.” What’s fair is fair, right? Cut their number in at least half and start from there.
But don’t be a jerk and haggle over 25 cents. Honestly!
Last but not least
Respect the local culture.
Let’s say you’re a female in Morocco, and you notice all the women are covered head to toe except for maybe their face. Do you really think you’re navel-baring spaghetti-strap tank and Daisy Dukes ensemble is the best choice?
And fellas, I love a hot torso. I appreciate you wish to share your big pecs and chiseled abs with the world. I’m more than happy to openly admire your Adonis physique. If mine weren’t covered by a layer of . . . extra insulation, I’d have the same temptation.
But if you don’t see the locals walking around shirtless, and you aren’t on a beach, cover that hunkiness up. If you really need someone gawking, you know who to message.
A good rule of thumb for anyone: If the locals aren’t doing it, you probably shouldn’t either.
What travel tips do you wish more people would follow?