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Now before I begin my rant below, I should preface my grumbling with the following statement – I love travelers – I’m honoured and proud to call myself one. Anybody who gets up off the couch, pulls on a backpack and heads out into the wider world is ok in my book.
That said, there are a few habits than more and more travelers seem to be demonstrating that really grind my gears. I don’t know maybe I’m just getting old and grumpy. But nevertheless here are my top five, or should I say bottom five, annoying habits in travelers...
Laughing at broken English
Oh, so you find the way that local speaks English funny do you? Well before you start doing hilarious impression of them ask yourself the following – can you speak more than two words of their language? In the immortal words of the inspirational author H. Jackson Brown Jr:
“Never make fun of someone who speaks broken English. It means they know another language.”
Disrespecting local customs
This habit, above any other, is the worst sin any traveler can commit in my book. There’s never any justification for treating the local inhabitants with anything other than the utmost respect. You are after all a visitor in their land. And never, and I mean never do what this man did in Myanmar, not only was it rude but he almost went to jail for a long time.
Respect the customs and social norms of the destination you find yourself in. That means treat elders with deference, respect religious sites, always ask permission to take photos, wear appropriate clothing and drink in moderation. Ask yourself, would I do this at home? If the answer is a big fat no, then the chances are high you shouldn’t do it while traveling.
Spend too much time staring at their phone
Hostels are great places for travelers to meet other travelers, share stories, tips, maybe even a little holiday romance. Well, they used to be. Now when you walk into a dorm room all you see are faces lit up by smartphones.
People, put the phone down, you can check Facebook later. Say hello to the person in the bunk below you, talk to each other. You never know they could be your soulmate!
The same goes when you get to a tourist attraction. Put your phone down and soak up the sight with those two beautiful eyes you have. There’s a reason Angkor Wat, the Taj Mahal and The Great Wall of China are famous. They are unbelievable architectural wonders. So instead of wasting four hours taking the perfect selfie why not spend the time wondering at the architecture.
The reason you went traveling was to broaden your horizons, not to simple add a few extra followers to your Instagram account.
Spending too much time on your phone while traveling will also ruin your sleep, leaving you exhausted the following day – at least that’s what the team at the Sleep Advisor say, and they seem to be spot on when it comes to anything slumber-related.
Complain too much about being ripped off
The world is an inherently unfair place. The sheer randomness of birth means some people are lucky to grow up rich, others poor.
Many travelers from wealthy countries often have to do very little work at home before being able to travel in style in countries with weaker currencies.
Ten euros will barely buy you a meal in Dublin, London or Paris but could last a frugal traveler days in India, Nepal or Vietnam. Remember this fact the next time you feel like kicking up a fuss when you’re charged a slightly inflated ‘tourist price’ at the market or when boarding a bus.
How much does that extra 50 cent really mean to you? Think hard now, because it likely means a whole lot more to a person earning less than $5 a day. That extra 50 cent could mean a better meal for a undernourished family.
Always remember the mere fact you’re able to travel is a luxury most will never experience. Get some perspective.
Rely too heavily on their guidebooks
Some travelers are more sheep than person. They blindly follow every word written in their guidebook as if it were the walkthrough guide to their favourite computer game.
I will never forget watching a young backpacker (probably travelling on The Bank of Mum and Dad), having a stand up argument in the street in Hanoi over the price of his laundry. To prove his point he was pointing a page in his Lonely Planet shouting, ‘it says the price right here!’. Presumably ignoring the fact that his guidebook was likely written at least two years previous. Prices rise people!
Guidebooks are great for getting a general idea of a town, a rough guide if you will – so too are apps like Trip Advisor – but the joy of travel is in exploration. A great trip is about getting lost and having the type of truly random experiences that you can’t find in any mass published guidebook.
Well, there you have it – rant over. Travelers I love you all but sometimes I want to give some of you a clip round the ear. Always remember being able to travel is a luxury, one that the majority of the world will never get to experience – treasure it with all your heart.
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