How To Not Be An Irritating Tourist

Piggybacking off of this post, I wanted to write about how to not be an irritating tourist. How to, in general, stay out of the hair of those that actually live in the city you're visiting, how to blend in more easily and how to be a little bit less conspicuous.

Rule #1: Be generally inconspicuous.

Don't raise your voice. It's not necessary to shout at your group if you're all being attentive or have a plan in place for when everyone inevitably gets separated. If you're in a group with children, let them know ahead of time that it's not acceptable to run wild and cause general chaos wherever they go - be that in museums, on public transit, or wherever.

2. Don't assume you're better than the locals simply because you're from the United States.

Believe it or not, the place you're visiting - especially if it's overseas - is going to have an overall different culture. The food will be different, the pace of life will be different, the people will have different customs and expectations, and music, art and pop culture trends will be different. They are no better or worse than those of the United States - by virtue of your place of birth, you, as well, are no better or worse than the locals in the city you are visiting. Keep that in mind, and it will make your experience an overall better one for you and for those who actually live in that locale.

3. Don't expect other people to speak your native language.

Following on point #2, you would be surprised how many people that travel to foreign countries actually expect the locals there to speak their language. As an American, you sometimes get lucky in countries like Germany, where many people speak at least broken English. That is not the case, however, in many other metropolitan areas - in Paris, for example, I often had difficulty finding someone who spoke English, and in Shanghai, forget about it. Learn some simple phrases before you go, get really good at pantomime, and be infinitely patient and kind. It will get you far.

4. Don't try to give other tourists directions.

It's like the blind leading the blind. Just don't. "I'm so sorry, I'm not from here!" will suffice.

5. Have plenty of the local currency on you.

Not enough to get mugged, but more than enough to buy a day's worth of meals and a train ticket back to wherever you're staying. If you're planning to shop for souvenirs, take local currency for that too. It always kills me to hear people ask - especially in foreign countries (like legitimately foreign, not Canada) - "Do you take US dollars?" No, you jackass, we're in France, they don't take American dollars. Lord have mercy.

6. Know before you go.

Most of the issues outlined above can be avoided by simply doing some research before your trip. Where are you going, when, and on what days? How will you get to those places? What will you need - i.e. will you need a train ticket, a metro fare card? How do you say some basic phrases in the local language? How much money will you need? Do you have a map? Some basic forethought will make your trip less stressful, and you'll be less likely to irritate the locals with your cluelessness. ;)

Do you love to travel? When was a good tourist experience for you, and when was a bad one? How could some of these tips have helped you in those situations?


  1. Great tips! It's so important to be conscious of your behavior when your visiting another place. Thank you for the great reminders. Have a great Friday!

  2. Number two! Number two! I've actually traveled with people who have thought that they are better than the locals. It's so sad. And aides the bad reputation of American tourists.

    1. We have a bad rep everywhere. In France I just started telling people I was from Canada. 0.0

  3. Love this! I was once watching an episode of the amazing race and these two women were getting mad because they were in a country where people didnt speak english as their first language. I was like, really?! haha

    1. People are so silly. As a side note, they were filming The Amazing Race when we were in Zimbabwe this year! I've wanted to go on that show for ages.

  4. I love travelling and seeing the world. I definitely agree with all the tips. I always try and research before I go - it's so important! For example, we are planning to go to the Batu Caves in Malaysia towards the end of the year and through research we now know we need to wear long pants. Considering Malaysia is humid I would not have known this had I not researched! Great post :)

    Jess | It's That Time For

    1. I'm a researchaholic! I try to schedule out and plan as much as possible, definitely makes it less overwhelming when you're on the ground! Thanks!


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