Tourists often get a bad reputation. Shouting in English at an Italian shop owner tends to bring this about. Then again, it could be the stopping in the middle of the street with no idea life is trying to get by behind you.
After living in Florence this summer, a city infested with tourists doing just that, I started to consider a number of ways tourists like myself can improve themselves and their reputations while in the process be better received by locals.
1. Consider your Dress: It can be disheartening as a tourist, discovering a new city, only to receive scowls from locals. Is it something I said? No, it might be what you are wearing. Unfortunately, tourists are often ridiculed or targeted due to how they look, leading to retaliation on the part of the tourist. Do some research about your destination’s code of dress. You just may be treated better and in turn, not lose your temper over poor service based on how you dress.
2. Lower That Voice: Shouting at the waiter that doesn’t speak your language accomplishes very little besides getting all eyes on your table. Despite having a loud voice naturally, I have learned to keep it down when I travel. If you lower your voice, not only do your draw less attention to yourself, but you may also get more than you are shouting to bargain for.
3. Keep Walking or Step Aside: You are lost. You stop in the middle of a narrow sidewalk with your map. Look behind you for a whole village is looking to pass. Locals will appreciate your presence in the city a great deal more if you kindly step out of the way to be lost. Being conscious of where you are walking shows a respect for the lives that live your destination day in and day out.
4. Enough With The Pushy Plane People Already: When the seat belt sign goes dark, most travelers make a mad dash for the aisle. Some seated behind you may decide they need to get off the plane before you do, pushing their way to the front. Getting off the plane becomes a boxing match of elbows and luggage in faces. Wait your turn and de-boarding will go much quicker. How you arrive often leaves the crucial first impression with locals and sets the tone for your travels.
5. Know your hellos, goodbyes and thank yous: A simple hello, thank you and goodbye does wonders toward being a better-behaved tourist. Even if the receiver of your hello doesn’t seem to possess the cheery local disposition you are expecting, you will leave the bigger man or woman for practicing simple courtesy. If you are traveling to a place that doesn’t speak your native tongue, learn how to say hello, goodbye and thank you. A local’s respect for you will skyrocket.
Flickr: Ed Yourdon