Posted by: AmbleAlong | December 19, 2011

Insider Travel Tip: Be A Good Tourist

Collectively we, as Americans, get a bad rap for being loud and obnoxious travelers.  As sad as it is, you don’t have to travel very far – perhaps just to a neighboring city or state in the U.S. – to know exactly why we got this label.  We talk fast, want immediate gratification, and if someone doesn’t understand us we speak louder.  Though we might be willing to chalk it up to a rude “out of towner” here, without a doubt it is much harder to lose this label when traveling abroad!

Before I travel somewhere new, I always try to do my homework as to the big things (language they speak, money they use) and also some little things (regional cuisine, specialty items) that I might stumble upon during my trip.

At any rate, it seems to work well to make a cheat sheet for at least the most basic of phrases:  Good morning! Good evening! Where is the train station? Where is the bathroom? (you get the idea) all fit in this category.  Purchase a phrase guide book, check out materials from your library, or type into a translation program a few simple phrases that can get you by… Even if you don’t use the correct inflection, shop owners and restauranteurs in another country will appreciate that you tried.  The beauty of this is that you extended an olive branch by trying, instead of just talking English very loudly, and now they will help you with whatever you need – usually in English!

The money conversion issue can truly become its own post.  For the sake of planning ahead, however, I always get a little currency through my local bank for each of the countries I will be traveling around in.  There are times when a better rate could have been found at the airport, but keep in mind that none of the exchange places would be in business if they didn’t make a profit!  My experience has also been that it is better to exchange a smaller amount a few different times rather than exchange too much at once.  ALL exchanges buy back low.  (This is as true at the AMEX locations as it is at banks or the airports, so only change out to the travel currency what you will need and little extra.)

So many travelers from this country get discouraged because things are not like they are at “home”.  Well isn’t that the point of traveling?  I encourage you to embrace the regional foods and try something new.  You might really be surprised to find that you like truffles or that a cameo brooch was the missing piece of jewelry in your collection!



  1. I think we forget how to treat people nicely, say please and thank you. A way to get better treatment when traveling abroad, is to learn as much as you can before you go and then learn the line “do you speak english” in their language. I have received better treatment when I did that.

    Nice post and I look forward to more!

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