For many countries, tourism is a vital part of their economy, so it’s fantastic that so many of us want to travel and see the world. I personally believe that travelling is one of the best things anyone can do to broaden their horizons and to appreciate different cultures and ways of life. There is nothing wrong with being a tourist, and you can be any type of tourist you want. You simply need to respect each country you visit’s cultures, traditions and people, while at the same time respecting your fellow travellers. After all, we’re all trying to achieve the same thing, to see more of our wonderful planet.
Over our years of travelling, we’ve unfortunately witnessed plenty of poor behaviour from other travellers. Sometimes their actions are sort of funny to watch or only mildly annoying. But often they are quite outrageous.
I’m certainly not going to say we’re perfect and I’m sure on few occasions we’ve acted like annoying tourists ourselves. At the end of the day, nobody is perfect. But as tourists/travellers, we should always try to be on our best behaviour while travelling overseas (and at home too!).
When you’re in someone else’s country, you should consider yourself a guest there and act like one. You wouldn’t go into someone else’s house and act badly, would you? When you’re abroad you represent your own country. When a few of us act badly, it can give our entire country a bad rap. For example, not all Australians wear Bintang singlets in Bali, drink too much beer and cause havoc!
So next time you’re travelling overseas, consider our short list of tips below, and let’s all try and be better travellers!
1- Dress appropriately
Dress differ all over the world. Yes, in our Western culture we don’t cover up as much. Walking around in a bikini might be acceptable in Australia, but this is not the case everywhere. When visiting a more conservative country, we should respect their dress code, especially in places of worship like a temple or a mosque. If there is a sign out front asking you to cover up, it applies to both visitors and regulars.
2- Don’t hog a place taking a photo
When visiting a new destination, most of us will want to take some photos. That’s totally fine; I’m a photo fanatic and take plenty myself. But if you see a line of people waiting to take the exact same shot, try not to hog the spot. Take your photos as quickly as possible and move on so that everyone can have their turn.
3- Don’t walk across other peoples’ pictures
No-one wants a stranger in their photos. If you need to pass by someone taking a photo, just wait a few seconds or walk around behind them! Yes, sometimes you might not realise they’re doing it, but if you do, don’t be rude.
Once I waited patiently for a group of tourists to take what seemed like an entire memory card of selfies in front of a lighthouse. I waited and waited. Then when they finally finished and I stepped up to take my shot, the same people walked right in front of my camera. Needless to say, I was furious. I mean how rude after I had patiently waited for them to finish.
4- Don’t speak loudly in places of worship
Some of us are louder than others. It’s fine when we’re at home, but when visiting a church or a temple, keep your voice down so as not to disturb others. And I should add, don’t mock the statues and laugh loudly. RESPECT!
5- Don’t be rude to the locals
There is nothing that annoys me more than seeing tourists being rude and demanding to locals. When travelling overseas, it’s likely the locals won’t speak your language or if they do, they may not speak it well. It’s up to you to learn some of the local’s language. Don’t get mad if they don’t understand you, aren’t as quick as people in your country, or do things differently than you’d expect.
6- Be polite
Just as you were taught as a kid, please and thank you go a long way. Always be polite, it’s not hard!
7- Don’t litter
It always breaks my heart to see places that are full of rubbish, especially if it’s a beautiful beach or another stunning part of the world. Littering is not acceptable and the whole world should be more responsible about it. If you don’t litter at home, why do it elsewhere? If you do litter at home, well shame on you!
Yes, some countries already have a problem with their locals littering. But that doesn’t mean you get a free pass to contribute to the problem! If you come from a country where littering is the norm, don’t use that as an excuse to mess up a clean country!
8- Use your selfie stick sparely
I won’t lie, I hate selfie sticks. People have just become obsessed with selfies and it makes me sad. It’s not about enjoying a place anymore, it’s about taking a selfie to gloat to your friends on Instagram. That part is bad enough, but the worst part about selfie sticks is the people who use them when they’re not even taking selfies. For example, if they shove it in front of other people taking pictures in order to get closer to the action, or if they shove it in the face of animals or even people just to get a shot.
When we visited a monastery in Myanmar, we saw people literally shoving their selfie sticks in the poor monks’ faces to get a better shot! Our tour guide explained that tourists had become so disrespectful to the monks that there had been talks of completely closing the monastery to tourists. It’s sad that everyone gets punished for a few idiots.
9- Don’t jump the queues
Queues are there for a reason. As annoying as they can be, please wait your turn like everyone else.
10- Don’t leave your towel to secure a seat
If you’ve ever stayed at a beach resort, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about. Some people think it’s ok to get up at first light and place their towel on a beach chair to claim it as theirs for the day. Then they head back to bed, returning at 2 pm and expecting no-one else to have sat on that chair all day. Well, guess what, it’s not ok!
11- Don’t make everyone wait for you on a group tour
If you go on a group tour, remember that other people have paid for the same tour as you and most likely will want to do everything on the tour’s itinerary. When your guide tells you to return to the bus after forty-five minutes to head to your next destination, be respectful to your fellow group members and return on time. If you want to make your own itinerary, use a private tour.
12- Don’t vandalise
This is utterly outrageous, and I can’t even believe that this happens. Carving your initials into a thousand-year-old historical monument just to prove that you were there. Really? Who cares? It doesn’t make you any more special.
13- Do your research
Last and not least, do your research about the country you are visiting before you go. Nowadays you can find just about everything you need to know on the internet. Read about the country’s culture and its do’s and don’t’s. If you’re not happy with any of the cultural norms that you’ll have to adhere to, then simply don’t go.
I hope this list is just a laugh for most of you and that you already know how to behave as a tourist. If you’d like to add anything to the list or want to mention a time when you’ve been annoyed by other tourists’ actions when travelling, please comment below.