How To be a Better Tourist / Traveler
We all want to make the most out of our hard earned money spent on a holiday or cruise, but it doesn’t mean that you should get a 5 star treatment through out the trip (unless you are indeed traveling on a private jet, chauffeured limo, private guide, securities and 7 star hotel accommodation, but still…). Visiting another country is like visiting a stranger’s home, so as much as you want to enjoy the stay, you don’t want to do anything that could offend the host country, nor feel left out, shy or keep everything to yourself even when it is already inconvenient. Here are ways for you to become a better tourist / traveler and definitely help you make your trip more enjoyable and meaningful.
Keep an open mind
You have made arrangements with your travel agent, hotel and tour supplier up to the last letter. You have requested what meals to be served at what time and what places to go at the right moment, but anything can happen for no apparent reason. Weather can change in a matter of minutes, sites can get crowded in a moment, causing traffic and delays. The driver might suddenly stop and have to swap with another driver, all these and more can affect your trip. But always keep an open mind because as much as you want to make things perfect, these things do happen and solutions are always there and can be easily provided. Have a guide contact the restaurant that you might be late or call the tour company to confirm the driver switch and how long it will take. This way, even if the elements around your trip change, your itinerary is still the same.
Research about your destination
Whatever country you go to, try to give some time to research more about it prior to the trip. It will not only help you to know more about the exciting places to go to, but also learn about their currency and culture. There are numerous sites and tools that offer country information, so visit them at least a day or two before departing.
Respect their culture
There are some countries that have out of this world culture, because they are something outside of your standard norms from your country of origin. You might get offended with some and there might something that you do that could offend them. Take for example in Japan, you shouldn’t stick your chopsticks into your rice bowl as it imitates offering to the dead, this is a big no no so use a chopsticks rest or lay it flat on the table or bowl. Also in Japan, during rush hour where a lot of people are walking or running to and from the train or shops, one of them might hit you on the shoulder or elbow during the rush traffic and Japanese people will not apologize to such a tiny issue. This can be offensive for some of us, but this is their way of life and culture. There are some countries, especially in Europe, that lets their citizens display their affection openly and in public, which for some conservative Filipinos find it offensive. This is natural to them and it doesn’t necessarily harm you, so try to understand and accept that this is how it is with them.
Be Eco friendly
Being aware of supporting mother earth doesn’t end when you leave your country. It would be nice to show a good habit to a foreign land so in case they don’t do it, they would learn from you. If they happen to be eco friendly as well, they would very much appreciate your efforts. Some of us travel by groups, riding big buses or coasters and move along like a family, so the wastes produced can be big from your group alone. Take the initiative to bring along plastic bags as waste disposal and try to keep your bus as clean as possible. Throw your plastic water bottles in designated recycle bins, or ask the driver to drop it off to the nearest recycling center. I am sure, in the future, we would all love to return to the places we’ve been to so we should help preserve them today.
Talk to the locals
Some tourists rarely do this, either because of language barrier or they are afraid that harm might fall on their way. I am sure that there will always be one local that could speak English and there is also the probability that a “Kababayan” is there as well who knows the ins and out of the city, how things are going and what are the recent events in that place. Chat with them and definitely you will learn more about your destination more than what your tour guide could tell you.
Try riding on a public transport
Some tours are already packaged with transfers from the airport to your hotel, to the sightseeing tours and back to the airport, leaving you no interaction or opportunity to experience and see what local life is. In your free time or at least an hour in the evening after dinner, try riding a bus, train or whatever popular local transportation that city have. Check out what the locals do and enjoy a fun learning adventure even for a short time. It would make your trip definitely more memorable. Remember Vin Diesel riding a jeepney in Manila?
You are not expected to learn all of the cultural do’s and don’t’s of your country destination but a little preparation will help in a lot of ways. If you are impressed with the sights and sounds of that city, impress their citizens with these simple steps mentioned and surely they will appreciate it. Just make sure to stay safe and be travel wise.