Tourists have a bad reputation, and often with reason. There are many terrible and over-populated people who ruin travel for everyone else. Here's how you can avoid being a part of it.
Losing the above right
Travel is an incredible luxury and should be treated as such. Only a small part of the world's population has the chance to experience different countries and cultures. It's a privilege.
I understand, however! You have saved and paid a lot of money to get to Mexico City / Paris / Vietnam / everywhere. But that's all you paid for. If the construction work is underway, the weather will not bother you, the monkeys will not dance, or the whales will not show up, this is just bad luck. All you can do is relax, laugh and enjoy the fact that you are there.
If you are in a country with different dress styles or standards of behavior, stick to them. For example, sunbathing with bare breasts is perfect for everyone on the beaches of Barcelona, but not in Morocco. If you visit a temple, wear the type of clothing that the locals wear. If that means keeping your shoes on and covering them up, do it at any temperature.
Again, for most people, if you keep in mind the great chance you have to travel and act as such, it's enough to stave off almost all the terrible behavior of tourists.
Think of the premises
Apart from a few hotspots for tourists, most of the places you will visit are functional cities, where people live daily. New York, London and Paris all draw a lot of money from tourism, but even more from their usual savings.
When you visit a new place, think of the locals. You enter their city and, in most cases, they will see very little direct benefit of your presence. The extra pennies in the city's coffers at the end of the year will not make up for the inconvenience caused by the avoidance of slow-moving tourists on the sidewalk every day or the management of a garbage problem.
You can show your consideration in your general attitude. Do not forget that the vast majority of people around you engage in daily life: they rush from home work to go to school or deal with their family and their commitments in their hometown .
Most New Yorkers do not attend Broadway shows, most Londoners have not visited the British Museum and Parisians are not surprised by the beauty of their city's architecture. Consider them every time you stop on the street, ask for help from passersby, think about leaving your coffee cup on a bench or hold the line in front of the subway station.
Learn the basics of language
If you go to a region where English is not your mother tongue, it is respectful to learn a few simple sentences. Here are some things I consider essential:
"Hello and how are you?"
"Do you like it and thank you."
"Do you speak English?" / "Does it bother you if we speak English?"
These allow you at least to greet and thank people and to politely ask if you can switch to English. Even though they speak very good English, most people will appreciate your efforts.
Here are some additional suggestions if you want to know more:
How to ask his way.
How to order food and drink at a restaurant.
Do not do it for Gram
Instagram was great for people seeking inspiration for the trip, but it was also a problem. People around the world are being driven crazy by those trying to take pictures in the picturesque places where they live. While one or two pictures may be suitable, some are complete photo shoots at people's doors.
I am a big fan of Instagram, but even I can see that this kind of thing reaches a breaking point. If you want to visit a place because it is beautiful and you want to see it, do it! But if you just visit because you want to take a photo for Instagram and prove that you went there, you should reconsider your decision.
Spend your money widely
My hometown is near Dublin and has therefore experienced a considerable tourist boom. Tens of thousands of people visit each year. Unfortunately, the majority of people do not see the advantage, because most of the income from tourism goes to a few traders and restaurateurs. Everyone just has an increase in traffic and overcrowding
If you are visiting a small town, try to become aware of this dynamic and spend your money more widely. Buy your souvenirs to smaller artists just a block or two from the main street. Go to the local restaurants, rather than the tourist spots, or buy the ingredients to prepare your lunch at a local store.
It's a small thing, but if you do it when traveling, you can help share the benefits of tourism with a wider group of people.
It's the same with tips. If you interact directly with the locals, give a good tip – unless you go to a place where the minimum wage is high (as in the Scandinavian countries, for example).
Do not post your wealth
Traveling widely is something that only the rich can afford. If you come from North America or Europe and travel to Asia or South America, remember that most people you meet will never have the opportunity to visit your home country . They will probably not be able to afford it, and even if they can, visa laws are much more restrictive.
Out of respect and for your own safety, do not post your fortune. Do not show a wallet full of money or openly carry a costly technical charge – few things are more crazy.
Consider the welfare of animals
Most people love animals. Sometimes it's good for animals, but unfortunately it's usually pretty awful for them.
Be very careful if you choose to engage in activities involving captive animals, especially tigers or elephants. Do a lot of research on the tour operators or sanctuaries you plan to visit. There are many legitimate rescue centers that take care of the animals, but there are also places where they are drugged and beaten. They will take photos with tourists. The best places usually cost more because they have higher overhead, so do not skimp on it.
Excursions with animals roaming freely in open spaces are normally acceptable. Whale watching and safaris are not only the best way to see animals, but they are also the most human.
Wild animals close to humans are a bit more problematic. Beware of animals such as street dogs and the remains of monkeys. Human food is not particularly good for them, and making them too dependent on humans can also cause serious problems. When in doubt, observe from afar.
It does not take much to be a good tourist. If you can spend more money in the less obvious "sights" and stay aware of your impact, you already have a head start.