After travelling for a while I have made several observations about different tourists in the places we’ve been to. Some are good, others can be quite annoying. Don’t you think it will be easier if we give way to each other every now and then? Everyone wants to have the best time during their holiday but we don’t think or act the same way when we are overseas. There are no written rules on how to behave when people travel, so here’s a few travel courtesy tips that may come in handy when you hit the road:
Lend a Hand and Take Photos for Other Tourists
If, like us, you travel without a tripod, it is expected to have very few photos together during your trip. Jon and I have managed to get at least one photo of us in most of the places we’ve been but when we did the Tongariro Alpine Crossing in New Zealand, we met a Filipino tourist named Richard who generously helped take quite a number of photos for us. We did the same for him, in return. There was also an American couple with us then, and they had some issues with their camera so people from our group offered to share some photographs with them via email. Well, isn’t that a nice set-up?
Taking photos for other tourists is as easy as 1-2-3. So when someone asks for one, be willing to help out. However, when it is really inconvenient to help another tourist, just decline politely or ask someone you are with to assist instead.
Don’t Hog Good Photo Spots and Try Not to Get in the Way of Other People’s Photos
There will often be a set of tourists that gather around that best photo spot and all you have to do is wait. This happened quite a lot when we were in touristy parts of Europe. Sometimes, I just want to say something about it but then, I have to retreat since I am just another spectator myself. Everyone wants a piece of the limelight but time is of the essence for all of us so we should work something out. When Jon and I travel we make sure to quickly get photos when we know there is a crowd waiting right behind us. I truly appreciate it when people give way, but I guess some people are not like this. Maybe they are just not aware that they are doing this. I certainly hope that this will change.
Make It Quick: Do Transactions Quickly
On a cold winter’s night, the last thing you want to do is wait in line for your turn. When we were in the queue for the Eiffel tower tickets, we noticed this couple that took so long in the counter to sort out their tickets. There was a long queue building up but they simply didn’t mind. When Jon and I had our turn with the tickets, it took us around a quarter of the time the earlier couple took. We had recently watched the Seinfeld episode with the Soup Nazi, and so we thought that system could be probably work for ticket purchases. Approach ticket counter, say number of tickets requested, hand over payment then get tickets and change. No fuss, just pure business. It may just work.
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Give Way to Alighting Passengers in Public Transport
After living in Singapore for three years, giving way in public transport became like a given. I just don’t think about it anymore. I just do. Of course, not every country has this system. In the Philippines, it’s survival of the fittest when it comes to getting a ride home. I recall one of my dear friend’s advice when we took a bus in Manila, “Be Competitive.” People alight and people attempt to come in, well, we know what happens next: Chaos. So this goes not just for tourists, I suppose, if people give way to alighting passengers and wait for their turn things may just go smoother.
Don’t Cut the Queue
The last thing you want to face after sleeping overnight at the airport is someone cutting the queue. It was a long day, Jon and I were in the baggage drop-off counter for our flight to Athens and this woman tried to sneak her way in front of us. If we hadn’t told the airline crew about her, she could have eased her way in. Let us all be responsible citizens and wait for our turn.
Another airport scene where people cut the queue is right at the boarding gate. The call is given by the airline, you are one with many passengers lined up for the gate and then suddenly the people seated next to the gate doors stand up, ignore the queue and pass everyone ahead including yourself. Unfair, don’t you think? Everyone gets a seat on the plane, so this has got to stop!
Acknowledge Other People and Say Hello
One good thing about travelling is meeting other people. Saying hello to a person you cross paths with on a trek, having a quick chat with people you just met at a hostel, or asking recommendations from a local can make a difference in one’s experience. Keep an open mind to meeting people and strike a casual conversation when welcomed. Some small talks may just lead to good friendships.
Clean Up After Yourself
The world is not a big trash can (rubbish bin). Some people just don’t care about where they leave or throw their trash. On a boat trip to the 4 islands from Krabi, there was this Chinese woman who got sea sick, threw up in a plastic bag and just dumped it onto the open sea. That is just disgusting. People should realize that just because they don’t own the place and they will leave the next day, that doesn’t mean they can leave nasty stuff behind.
I’m not talking about wearing harem pants when in Southeast Asia. I’m talking about respecting other cultures.
When I was in Male, Maldives I noticed how men took a second look or stared when I passed the street. It must have been the way I was dressed. We stayed there for a night after our holiday in Asdu Sun Island, and all I had were summer clothes. Most of the local women in the city were covered up so I was not exactly wearing appropriate clothing for women. I should have really done something about it.
I’ve learned my lesson so when we were in temple in Bangkok, I brought a cardigan and a pair of tights in case I need to cover up but I guess these temples are often visited by tourists from holiday so they had robes for women to wear if they wore shorts or dresses. That made it a little more convenient. Still, it’s best to know the local customs beforehand and dress appropriately when you visit a place in order to avoid any misunderstanding.
Watch Your Language: Speak a Language that Everyone Understands
Travelling means meeting people from different parts of the world, which means different languages. English is commonly understood by most people so better stick to it when you’re with a group of travellers who don’t speak your language. It’s alright to use your language sometimes but it can come out rude or cause some misunderstanding if you keep people out of the loop from conversations.
Follow Road Rules
Jaywalking is very much neglected nowadays. Since everyone crosses the road on their own terms, it can be easy to disregard following this simple rule and go with the way of the rest of the crowd. Still, rules are rules and it’s better to be cautious when you travel. Apart from a possible fine, not everyone will give way to pedestrians.
Driving in a different country is also an issue. When we were in Rotorua, we decided to rent a car since it was just way easier to fit everything on our schedule that way. However, I had to drive on the left side of the road (with right hand drive car). I was used to other side, and I haven’t driven a car in a while. We got to our destination safely but I admit I need more practice before driving (again) in a foreign country. Renting a car or motorcycle in most countries can be quite easy. If you are a tourist, just make sure to follow the rules, and drive safely.
What do you think about these travel courtesy tips? Do you have other ideas to share on travel courtesy? Let us know.