Visiting a country is like being a guest in someones home. You have to be respectful to your host and the home that they live in.
So why is it that people act differently when they are in a foreign country? Is it because they are amongst strangers? Nobody around to judge their behaviour? If you’re only here for a few weeks, then who cares if you act like an idiot?
I walked into a restaurant to grab a burger for lunch and came across a group of people acting loud and obnoxious. This got me thinking… who is the worst tourist?
Most websites are quick to blame whole nationalities. I’m even guilty of that, catching my self saying “fucking Aussies” all the time. There must be some truth to this though, take a look at this list I compiled from some quick research.
|Chinese||Indian||French||Russian||Mexican||2009||Perpetual Traveller Overseas|
The Chinese made all 5 lists, with the British right behind with 4 mentions. So does this mean that these two groups are universally terrible when it comes to exploring the world?
I’ve also come across regional biases as well. For example, most people in South America consider Israelis to be the worst tourist. Contrast that to Europeans, who would blame the British or Americans.
Looking for a more unbiased answer, I ran into two KLM flight attendants while on a bike tour in Mexico City.
I asked them a simple question: “Who are the most difficult passengers to deal with?”.
Without skipping a beat, one of them said, : “Russians and Greek Orthodox Jews”. The other quickly agreed.
This was a reasonable answer given they had over 35 years of combined experience as flight attendants. When I asked why, it boiled down to two things: respect and politeness.
Nationalities aside, here is what I think makes you the worlds worst tourist:
Each country has their own limit when it comes to how appropriate certain styles of clothing are. Are you showing too much skin? Are you supposed to be wearing a head covering before entering a church? Just because you can strut around in a tank top at home doesn’t mean you can do the same in another country.
Scratching “I was here 2017” into a monument is never cool. If you feel like you need to leave your mark on the world then check into Facebook or Foursquare instead.
Being with a group of friends usually amplifies the worst behaviour. Be aware that you’re not the only ones in the restaurant or airplane.
Traveling is hard work. Taking that 16 hour overnight bus to save a few dollars or sitting on a 18 hour flight puts a cramp on your showering schedule. Travelling out of a suitcase also means that you might not have the cleanest of clothes. Being on the road doesn’t give you an excuse to be lazy and not use soap and water.
Learning a few words (like please, thank you, hello, goodbye) in the local language goes a long way. Back home, would you bark out “water!” to your server at a restaurant? Of course not. That’s essentially what you’re doing when you say, in Spanish: “agua!” without the “por favor” (please) at the end.
Trying to order a pizza in a restaurant and explaining to the server that you only want olives on half of the pizza is going to frustrate both parties. What isn’t acceptable for you, might be acceptable for them. Take a concession and just deal with what you get. Be flexible. You travelled to see how others live in this world.
Just because you’re not at home, doesn’t mean you need to treat the rest of the world as a toilet. Be self aware, you are your country’s representative.