Just a few things to remember so you can be your best self away from homeland.
I am not a huge expert in traveling, I still haven’t properly explored Asia (Ummm..Can’t wait though…) I haven’t been on a safari tour in Africa. Australia, I want to see you so bad, but you got them spiders! Joking aside, vagabonding from place to place to find yourself and to expand your mind and heart is becoming not only trendy but also more affordable, thus more common. For example, living in Europe, I am able to buy a ticket to fly to London or to Spain for laughable 20 euros (usually not during summer though). People starting to feel more comfortable getting out of their comfort zones and leaving their homes to #explore and #wanderlust, you know what I mean. However, some forget that getting your passport, buying your ticket and packing your suitcase with on-trend outfits are not the only things that entail comfort zone abandonment. There are few pet peeves of mine in other tourists and travel enthusiasts that sometimes drive me crazy, especially because some of these things are such common sense. Here are some things you can be aware of to prevent looking like a dick overseas.
#1 Do your damn research, it’s so easy.
Treat the country you are visiting the way you’d want people to treat your home. Be respectful of the cultural rules. You can always look up all the information you need on this thing called Google. Even if you are traveling on a whim, chances are you will not disconnect yourself completely from the world of social media, which means you will have internet on your phone. Take 10 minutes to find out what are the major cultural differences between your country and the country you are about to visit. Those differences could relate to dress code, public display of affection restrictions, hand gestures and so on… There is so much information out there to help you learn how to best engage with the locals and will help you feel more comfortable and confident knowing the expectations. Knowledge is power and in some cases, it can save you from getting a bloody nose if you are waving a peace sign the wrong way in the wrong place…
#2 Don’t Litter. Your mama taught you better!
Honestly, this is a huge pet peeve of mine. I can’t believe how many people don’t learn this as children, or just choose to forget. This is so freaking easy. If you can’t find a trash bin near then just keep whatever trash you have with you in a backpack, purse, pocket, or bring a plastic back with you on the trip that you can use for trash. You can get rid of your wrappers and plastic coke bottles once you get back to the hotel or at a restaurant you are eating at later.
#3 Don’t be a dick in restaurants.
When going to restaurants around the world you will surely notice things run differently to what you are used to back at home. So when you are in a restaurant in Italy or France for example, you will experience a very unhurried and relaxed dining ritual. Don’t freak out when things take longer than usual. In Italy, for example, you don’t get a check at your table unless you ask, but in most cases, you have to go to the bar or another area that has a register. Waiters also don’t bother you with refills and questions if you are finding your meal enjoyable. Here you order, the restaurant staff is confident you will say something if you are not happy. Same with getting more drinks/bread/condiments, if you desire more of anything just catch the server when they’re passing by in a polite manner and address your needs.
#4 Go with the flow. Blend in.
The beauty of traveling is to learn strange things. To see new ways and styles of living. To try foods you’d never find cooked the same way at home. To see the history of cultures that affected all of us, be it through music, art, literature, or gastronomy. DON’T stand out, blend in into the environment and try to see the world in a fresh and an exciting way.
#5 Don’t take pictures in sacred places like you are at Coachella!
I understand that getting that selfie of a monument that everyone wants to visit but can’t is a very tempting thing in today’s social media reality. However, there is a huge difference between taking a duck-face selfie with the Eiffel tower or pretending you are pushing the tower of Pisa, and taking a selfie at a Jewish Holocaust monument while doing a yoga headstand. Respect your surroundings. I mean, I don’t know what would possess someone to pose with happy smiles while visiting places that represent the darkest moments in human history. Same goes for people who love to bare it all and pose their naked asses on mountains that the locals cherish as religiously important sights. Take a photo to remember, and to someday tell your kids about how important it is to know your history, and to keep those who died in horrific acts of violence in our memory with the respect and admiration they deserve. Bottom line, don’t be insensitive.
In conclusion, have an open mind, have a heart, and have common sense. Go to places with the desire to learn, observe and admire. Do your best at being respectful, tactful, and most of all grateful for the experiences you will gain exploring other cultures.
Travel on and don’t be a dick!
What did I miss, what are some other important tips you have for those who want to be respectful travelers? Share below in a comment section.