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How to Stop Acting Like a Tourist when Visiting a Foreign Country
Don't Ask Me I'm a Tourist ~
You’ve decided on visiting a foreign country for a well earned break, now you have to decide if you want to act like a tourist or make a few adjustments to stop acting like a typical tourist.
Yes you are by definition visiting a foreign land so therefore a tourist but a few key tips will make you safer, blend more into the local scene and ultimately make your vacation a more memorable experience.
Whether it is your first or twenty-first holiday abroad, you will be experiencing a new culture, new customs, possibly new language and currency, new foods and dishes and so on . . . the list is long.
Being open to new experiences when on a foreign holiday will make you feel less of an outsider and more comfortable.
Travel is a passion of mine and I have travelled abroad with friends, family, my partner and I have ventured on foreign trips alone.
As a single girl travelling alone, you need to have some street smarts in particular so here are my tips and suggestions on ways to be less like a tourist that have definitely worked for me
The Baptistry of The Cathedral of Pisa - Spot the Tourist
Learn the Basic Phrases
A Few Travel Quotes
“There are no foreign lands. It is the traveler only who is foreign”
Robert Louis Stevenson
“If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion and avoid the people, you might better stay at home”
“We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open”.
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover”.
Learn Some Key Phrases ~
This is vital when visiting a country with a different native tongue. Some key basic phrases such as hello, hi, please, thank you, thanks, good morning, good day, goodnight, the bill please . . . you get the picture?
Buy a good pocket phrasebook that has language translations both ways and phonetic spelling makes pronunciation easier to learn. Look for the phrasebooks that have the words all categorized in groups such as basic phrases, eating out, foods, ordering food and drinks and directions to name a few.
Start learning the phrases before you go so you know basics when you arrive. I remember the first phrase that I learnt in Turkish was Please can you speak more slowly.
That was twenty years ago and even though I have not used it in years, I still remember it. Boy did it come in handy in Turkey.
The locals will appreciate the fact you are making an effort, even if you do get it wrong. They will be only too happy to put you right anyway. Keep the phrasebook out of sight as much as possible it screams I have no idea what anyone is saying.
Having said that, there are times when it is unavoidable so use it. When sitting down to eat, if presented with a totally foreign menu, take out your phrasebook to try to find out ingredients of dishes.
Learning local dishes or foods you like is a good idea to do before you depart to foreign shores.
I did this for Italy and found it a great help as not much English is spoken in Southern Italy so I went prepared for it. There’s nothing worse than expecting the locals to speak your language in their own country, you need to make some effort. If visiting Ireland brushing up on Irish Slang – The Gift of The Gab is a good idea particularly for visits to Dublin and major cities as it does sound like another language sometimes.
Go culturally aware and informed
Customs & Traditions ~
Before you go do some research on the customs and traditions of the country and region. Every country has them and they will be very varied.
Some countries for example observe daily siesta where businesses close around mid-day and may not open until 4pm or even 5pm. If you are planning on going on a daytrip this can be a wasted journey. I have been caught out and was amazed how fast a bustling town became a ghost town.
For visiting religious places of worship, a major consideration is dressing appropriately and respectfully. Again different cultures will not accept what other’s may so check them before travelling.
As a general rule no bare shoulders or above the knee shorts and skirts. In some places women will have to cover their hair with a headscarf.
- Reviews of Hotels, Flights and Vacation Rentals - TripAdvisor
TripAdvisor - Unbiased hotel reviews, photos and travel advice for hotels and vacations - Compare prices with just one click.
Remember you are not at home and the majority of foreign destinations will have unsafe areas, pickpockets, bag snatchers and conmen. They will be in all major tourist areas, usually busy places so don’t stick out and make yourself a target by flashing the cash.
Carry money in different areas such as front pockets of jeans, in shoes and in body belts. Know the areas not to stay in before booking accommodation, for example.
Many dangerous areas in cities are located near major train stations and possibly not the best location choice to stay in. Do some research on accommodation and areas on websites such as tripadvisor which I find an excellent resource.
Being forewarned is forearmed as the saying goes, being aware and not sticking out as a target will make for a more enjoyable trip abroad and keep you safe.
Even if you don’t know where you are or where you are going you can still look as if you do and if you need to ask someone directions for example, pick your Good Samaritan wisely.
Accept that which is different and embrace it. Travelling foreign is all about acceptance. You chose to go to this destination be it The Canary Islands, Lecce in Italy or maybe it is one of my favourite Islands, Santorini Greece.
We all have characteristics that may be associated with our nationalities. Some countries will find them less appealing or necessary. For example, maybe you have a tendency to speak loudly, make bodily noises (burping or farting) or come from a pub culture which may not go down well on foreign soils.
Many countries will frown on drinking excessively and in public, rowdy behaviour and inappropriate language. There are quirky things like touching a native on the head and pointing your foot towards them is not advisable in parts of Southeast Asia and Thailand.
By not being informed will only draw more attention to you being a tourist and put you on the back foot straight away.
For something different
2 great articles by Bill De Guilio
- The Beautiful Amalfi Coast - La Splendida Costiera Amalfitana
Your guide to visiting the beautiful Amalfi coast. Travel along this twisting, mountain hugging road all the way from Sorrento to Positano, Amalfi, and on to the city of music, Ravello.
- Top 10 Things to do in Sorrento, Italy
Looking for things to do while visiting Sorrento? This guide will give you ten great things to see and do to make your stay a memorable one. Check out my list of the best of the best and enjoy your visit to this beautiful region of Italy.
Learn About The Place ~
Read up on the place and surrounding areas you may want to visit. There is a wealth of information a click away online, in libraries, bookshops and reviews are very useful as you will pick up many tips that will be invaluable.
You want to make the best of the time you have so checking out what the place has to offer is important. Friends and family may have been to your destination so quiz them for info, be like a sponge and soak it all up.
The more you know the more confident and prepared you will be and less reliant on playing the tourist card. Why appear like a culturally clueless tourist when you don’t have to?
When looking for accommodation (unless you have it already decided upon) my tip would be to pick something small, family run or a type of accommodation that is typical to the area.
You may be missing out on a unique experience if you opt for a large chain of hotels.
Show respect by dressing appropriately
Do you enjoy getting into the culture, people, food and customs when going on holidays?
Dress Sense ~
Apart from visiting religious places like mosques, churches and Buddhist temples you still need to dress appropriately and not so you will attract unwanted attention, particularly women.
Leave the hot pants, boobtube, low cut tank top and see through blouse at home. Apart from looking tacky and being a safety issue, it is also a sign of showing cultural disrespect.
Sunbathing topless is another sure fire way to bring you problems in many countries.
Just because you strip off in one foreign country does not mean you will be able to in another, you may end up being arrested instead.
Invited to someone's home is not to be missed
Eat what the locals eat
Go Where The Locals Go ~
The best food experiences I have had are when I have eaten where the locals eat or the ultimate is being invited into someone’s home for a meal.
Travel for me is about stepping outside of your comfort zone and embracing all that is new and different, including the local cuisine.
There is nothing worse than going on a foreign holiday and just eating burger and fries or omelette and fries if that is what you eat at home.
You may find certain dishes unappealing and two that stick out for me were pig fat in Portugal and brain soup in Turkey. I just could not take to them but at least I tried them!
Street food is what I love tasting wandering around a market. It is cheap, simple and always bursting with flavour.
Food plays a big part of cultures throughout the world and partaking in their dishes is seen as a huge compliment.
My partner, for example is not a fish eater but bless him when we go abroad he will always pick a local fish speciality in the hope of finding a fish he does enjoy!
We make it a rule to find out the local eateries which may not look the prettiest but you can be sure the authentic dishes will be delicious and much cheaper.
You never know what will happen and we have ended up in the kitchen watching our food being prepared from scratch.
Foreign holidays are the time to explore
Ways to Being a Switched On Tourist ~
Before travelling make copies of your passport ID page, visa information, travel information, accommodation contact details, flight details, travellers cheques, travel insurance, passwords, phone and laptop or tablet information. It may sound extreme but having it backed up just in case of an emergency is being prepared.
Leave very valuable jewellery at home.
This is something I do now without fail, particularly when travelling to a foreign country alone. It is asking for trouble if you have diamond chandeliers hanging from your earlobes or a rock the size of Gibraltar on your finger.
Know The Currency
If you are using a different currency, get familiar with the exchange rate and work to the nearest dollar, pound or euro for example.
Know the different denominations in paper and coins. When going to pay for a meal or when making a purchase, you will be prepared for any short changing which tourists are often targets for.
Unfortunately this happens everywhere and I remember being totally ripped off in Rome on our first visit.
Always check the fare before getting into a taxi.
It shows you are a bit clued in and not a typical foreign visitor and you are less likely to be taken advantage of. Taxis at train stations can be notorious for taking advantage of foreign visitors, especially as you are tired and just want to get to your accommodation.
Having a little basic language, knowing the currency and roughly what the fare should be will make you not act like a tourist and make you more confident.
Go Off Grid - Surprises Await
Final Thoughts ~
One of the most rewarding things to do when going on a foreign holiday is to go off the beaten track and take a chance. Go off the grid, so to speak and you just might unearth something very special, meet some locals, enjoy a non tourist environment and see a place you would never have experienced otherwise. Yes you may be a tourist but integrate and absorb as much as you can and you may just have the trip of a lifetime.
A Foreign Affair
Author Info ~
Information on the author, her bio and full body of works available @Suzie HQ
Credit to homesteadbound ~
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