Travelling means we get to experience other cultures and meet new people. But, that also means you’ll get to see all the annoying things other travellers do…
Hell is other people, so goes the saying. And when travelling, you’ll meet all sorts of people from many walks of life and diverse cultures. Most of these people will likely be great, but some of them will probably be really annoying.
Most of us want to be good guests and to leave a good impression. And, we hope you are one of those considerate travellers who does respect the law, tidies up after yourself and is generally well behaved (we’re sure you are).
If you want to avoid being one of those annoying travellers next time you’re off to exotic climes, bear in mind some of these annoying things that travellers do.
Disrespecting the locals
Surely number one on any annoying traveller list, disrespecting locals is an absolute no-no. Countries and cultures have their own sensibilities, so what might be OK at home might earn you disapproving looks elsewhere.
Mocking local traditions, flaunting dress codes, climbing on historical monuments, being unruly or aggressive and generally being a tw*t are all sure fire ways to piss off the locals.
Understanding some of the cultural norms in your host country is going to be very helpful. If in doubt, be polite, smile and if you do think you’ve offended people, do your best apologetic bow and head shake – and then try not to do it again.
Flagrant disregard for the law
I mean, this is a no-brainer. Law breaking is a broad term, of course, with jaywalking in Singapore being illegal, but smoking weed in the street in Amsterdam perfectly acceptable.
With that in mind, stories of people doing lines of cocaine in Amsterdam McDonalds is probably going to annoy the locals (true story). If you wouldn’t do it at home, don’t do it on holiday.
With the rise of the influencer and the instagrammer, comes a whole new breed of annoying traveller. Keeping people back in a prime spot, setting up a photo-shoot on people’s doorsteps or damaging historical monuments for your perfect shot is a sure fire way to piss off not just the locals, but other tourists.
We get it. You have lots of loyal followers eager to see your new images (you sure they’re not fake accounts though right?), but please bear other people in mind.
This might go beyond being one of the most annoying things travellers do, being more like one of the most stupid things… Taking bricks or stones from Machu Picchu or Angkor Wat is just plain silly. Do you really need that? Even taking sand from a beach in some places can land you in trouble, including a pair of tourists in Sardinia who were arrested for doing just that.
The phrase ‘take only pictures, leave only footprints’ is one you should etch in your mind. Buy your souvenirs from the local vendors like everyone else!
Graffiti and vandalism
Again, this is an obvious one, but carving your name into the walls of the Colosseum in Rome isn’t just stupid, it’ll also land you a huge fine! $23,000 to be precise – which is the amount one vandal was fined.
Another example is a couple in the US who defaced a 400 million year old rock formation that is sacred to the local Native Americans.
Graffiti is one of those things that you’ll see everywhere. But whatever makes you think its a good idea to deface a famous monument, I don’t know. But be assured, everyone else will just see it as annoying and disrespectful.
Holding those purse strings tight
Here at Gone Travelling we are definitely big advocates of being budget savvy when travelling. But with tourism being many people’s livelihood, being too tight with the cash can be particularly annoying traveller behaviour.
Yes, you don’t want to get ripped off either, but sometimes haggling over what is essentially pennies can be a bit extreme. I’ve seen people have blazing rows with taxi drivers over what probably amounts to around 20p. Just give the guy the extra 10 rupees and be on your way…!
Day trippers can also be seen by locals as annoying travellers as they often don’t contribute the economy with hotels or meals. You don’t need to shell out on expensive tours, or dine at the finest restaurant, but enjoying a meal or drink or buying a locally made souvenir will help support the local economy.
This shouldn’t just apply to when you’re travelling, but at home too. Take your litter home with you! Even if you see the locals dropping their rubbish in the street (there are a lot of countries where you’ll see that), you know better than that, right? Bin it. Or, better still, recycle it.
One great way to meet new people, or even enjoy the evening after a hard day sightseeing is with a cool drink. In fact, few things in life beat a refreshing sun-downer on holiday.
Being drunk and unruly is one of the main ways that travellers annoy the locals. Vomiting in the street, peeing in doorways or generally being boisterous, violent or confrontational are guaranteed ways to show yourself up… Wherever you are!
Enjoy a drink and good company. Have fun. Just remember, not everyone appreciates rugby songs sung at full volume at 3 am (followed by the sounds of vomiting).
Whatever your beliefs, remember that religions are often the cultural bedrock for many countries. You’ll usually be expected to remove your shoes before entering a temple, and most also expect conservative dress for both men and women. If in doubt, avoid exposed midriffs, legs etc… You can usually pick up something to cover you at the entrance to some of the world’s major temples.
Some countries also don’t appreciate photography in temples, so either don’t do it, or be discreet. None of that Instagram ‘influencer’ behaviour! If it says no photos, respect it.
Being loud and obnoxious
Loudly belittling the country as being ‘dirty and backward’ are surefire ways to annoy your hosts. Does anyone really do this? Yes, they do!
Even if you think the locals don’t speak your language, chatting away to your new found travel friend about how all these people are out to scam you out of your money and rob you is just rude. It will also make your new travel companion quite uncomfortable because they’d probably rather just get on with their trip.
Talking politics, race or religion
Travelling does mean we get to explore different cultures and their attitudes to the world. But… Be careful when it comes to discussing local politics or cultural sensitivities. especially on a casual basis.
In some parts of the world, chatting about the recent civil war, or the problems with a local religious minority can be anything from plain uncomfortable to incitement. If you know somebody well enough to discuss the local issues, sure. But don’t start asking some guy on the train in Turkey about his stance on the Armenian genocide, or a guy in the bar in Belgrade what he did during the Bosnian war.
Getting in the way
I lived in London for about 7 years, and that city certainly gets a lot of tourists. And you know what is so annoying about tourists in London (and indeed everywhere)? Large groups stopping right at the top of escalators or stairs, blocking entrances, leaving bags blocking the pavement, standing on the wrong side of the escalators in the tube, stopping to take photos in busy thoroughfares…
Basically, getting in the way is one of the most annoying tourist behaviours. Let the locals through, pay attention to where you loiter and generally do your best to not be a total nuisance to those trying to go about their daily business.
The bottom line: how not to be an annoying traveller
Put very simply, the best way not to be an annoying traveller is to be polite and respectful to your hosts and avoid causing damage to the environment (or leaving rubbish behind). Bonus points for learning some of the language and picking up some cultural know-how.
We’d love to hear any suggestions to add to this list, or even hear some of your obnoxious traveller stories, so let us know in the comments below.
Enjoyed this post? Read more about how to enjoy your travels right here on Gone Travelling…
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