24 Rookie Mistakes Tourists Often Make

1. Wear a fanny pack.
There is no better way to tell the world you are out of place than with your essentials strapped to the waist, snapping away using your shiny digital camera while snacking on granola bars you took from home because you were afraid to eat the local fruit. Try a nice leather side bag or slim back pack.

2. Put money, your passport, or anything valuable in your outside pockets.
In North America we tend to associate muggings with violent, dark alleys, but in many countries pick-pocketing is kind of a game. But it's a game they'll be better at than you, so just don't play along.

3. Talk louder so that someone who doesn’t speak your language will miraculously understand you.
Unfortunately, the person you’re speaking to isn’t hard of hearing; they just really don’t understand the words coming out of your mouth.


4. Think you’re too cool to ask for directions.
This is a mistake at home and abroad. Sure, it might make you look like a tourist, but at least you won’t waste hours of your vacation hungry, tired, and wet.

5. Expect transportation to be on time.
If you’re in sub-Saharan Africa, it’s probably going to be late. If you’re in Germany, it might just be early. Always best to prepare yourself so you don’t miss your train...or your connections.

6. Rely on your phone to work, no matter how far out of cell service you are.
While some destination hot spots have amazing cell service, many are off the grid. Write down the critical info you need (like directions, and the key phrase "where is the washroom" in a local dialect), then sit back and embrace this enforced break from your all-consuming screen. You'd be surprised how many life-changing experiences actually aren't on the web.


7. Assume you can access your bank account from a foreign ATM.
There are few things worse than being caught in a foreign country without access to cash. Strange as it may sound, your local bank doesn’t like to do business outside the country.

8. Joke about bombs.
I don’t think this is funny in any country, but in some it will land you in jail, so...just don’t.

9. Don’t sample the local cuisine out of fear of getting sick. 
Is there anything sadder than going halfway around the world to experience an adventure, only to eat the peanut butter crackers and granola bars you brought from home?


10. Try the local cuisine even though you know drinking the water and eating raw vegetables is going to make you sick. 
Do you have a death wish?! You know - you know - you should order bottled water and not eat the lettuce. Salmonella and tapeworm are real, people!

11. Take the train during rush hour with all of your luggage in order to ensure being squished or trampled.
For those of us who don’t live in big cities, we’re likely to forget that public transit will be a tad bit full at the beginning and end of the work day.

12. Don’t give yourself enough time to change planes. 
It’s easy to underestimate just how long it can take to change planes. You’d think your connection would be in the same terminal - you would be wrong. Some airports can take nearly an hour to cross, between waiting for shuttles, fighting through crowds, dragging your luggage, and finding the right gate, you might not make it!


13. Carry your camera around your neck.
Maybe this one is a little more acceptable now, because let’s face it, who isn’t an amateur photographer? But if you can get away with using your phone, why not blend in a little?

14. Dress like you’re Indiana Jones...regardless of whether you’re in Stockholm or Senegal.

It doesn’t hurt to do a little research on the culture, weather, and general vibe of your destination before stuffing your suitcase full of khakis and dri-fit T-shirts.


15. Expecting salt, pepper, and ketchup as condiments at every restaurant.
You could be disappointed, but, hey! You may really come to love local hot sauce and “salad cream”.

16. Forget about cell phone roaming charges...my sister came home once with charges close to $3800!!
Yikes! Please, please, please call your carrier before you leave the country and ask for their best roaming package because - ouch!


17. Assume the taxi meters are accurate.
Don’t get “taken for a ride” in countries where taxi metres are simply a car accessory and the real price is settled by good, old fashioned haggling.

18. Throw your trash on the ground because "everyone else does." 
It's true that many countries don't yet have the sophisticated recycling system we do in North America (although, some Europeans are ahead of us), but that's no excuse to check your own environmental ethics at the border. Be a good global neighbour and take your garbage with you!

19. Reverting to the only other non-English language you know (say, French) when you're in a [fill-in-the-blank] speaking country.
This is SO hard not to do! But, sadly, it’s just as incomprehensible as talking louder.


20. Accept the first price you’re offered when shopping in a bartering culture.
Do a little research before you travel to find out if you’re visiting a bartering culture. If you are, have fun with it! Because a scarf in that bazaar probably doesn’t actually cost $30.

21. Get the wrong visitor visa.
Or, arrive at the airport only to discover your passport is out of date - no! Don’t let this happen to you!


22. Wear the wrong shoes.
Regardless of where you are, most tourists do a fair amount of walking. Pounding the pavement in Beijing, bushwhacking through the jungles of Brazil, and strolling along the beaches of Malaysia all require radically different footwear. Go for classy and comfortable, while being practical about how long you’re going to be on your feet.

23. Assume your Apple Pay works everywhere…
Once you leave North America, you may suddenly find your Apple products are incompatible with the rest of the world's tech interface. Credit cards and cash are pretty universal though (...as long as you've obtained the right cash). 


24. Pack too much. 
You want to be prepared for every possible scenario you might run into while traveling, but trust me, you really don’t want to be tied down by heavy, unwieldy luggage when you’re trying to see the sights (or take public transit...or navigate streets that don’t have sidewalks...or not look like a tourist).

Seriously, though; tourism can actually be a driver of development in many struggling nations. Check out the 2017 International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development, and get inspired to be the right kind of tourist!



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Food for the Hungry: 24 Rookie Mistakes Tourists Often Make
24 Rookie Mistakes Tourists Often Make
Food for the Hungry
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