Tread Lightly When You Travel: My Reputation Goes With You

7 Aug
Traditional South Korean drummers

A traditional South Korean Band playing at a Red Cross Conference in

It seems counter-intuitive, but the art of being a good traveler is disappearing nearly as fast as globalization increases.  Having extensively traveled abroad in recent years, I can safely say that I no long wonder why tourists often rank amongst the most disliked people in the world. But it isn’t just the tourists; it’s the students, the businessmen, the soldiers, and the politicians. There is something about going abroad that causes many people to leave behind all the manners and rules of civilized behavior they would normally adopt at home.  And we get it, it’s nice to just abandon all your reservations and let loose once in a while. But people forget that they aren’t just representing themselves abroad; they are representing their entire nation and culture.  Even if nothing they do ever comes back to their families, the locals will remember “that idiot from ***** country”.  And when the locals have to watch over and over while the travelers repeat the same ignorant, reckless behavior, it becomes a stereotype applied to all traveler’s from that background.

“Oh, stop being such a sourpuss!,” the excuses run. “We’re just having fun.” “We’re paying good money to be here.” “Who cares what they think?”  Well, serious travelers care, for one.  I personally am sick and tired of being brushed with the “stupid, rude, careless, obnoxious, disrespectful, American tourist” stamp. Over and over, I enter a new country only to find that the travelers before me were wildly and irresponsibly drunk, disrespectful of the locals, dirty, destructive, rude, ignorant, and loud in their disparagement of the country, its natives, and their entire way of life. Time after time, I have watched as tourists from around the world (and particularly America) come into a country, treat it like their personal playground/garbage pit, and then walk away, leaving me to combat the impression they leave behind.  It actually hinders me from doing my job, which is to communicate, interact with, and learn about other cultures.

So in the future, when you’re headed abroad, here are a few tips on how to be a better traveler.

The most important lesson: Remember You’re A Guest In Their Country, And Act Like It.

The goal here isn’t to keep travelers from having a great time and enjoying themselves. Nor does it mean to suggest that you can’t go out and be wild. Just, remember that “What Happens in Vegas, Stays in Vegas.” While it may not go home with you, the memories and photos will still be floating around the country you visited.  It stays, and it will impact the people who follow you. You are a guest in their country; treat it with honor.   Be aware that you are the intruder and it is your responsibility to adapt to them, not the other way around.  Be polite, respectful, and cause as little inconvenience to them as possible; it can go a long way to restoring the traveler’s reputation abroad. And you might just have a better time of it when the locals are actually glad to see you arrive.

3 Responses to “Tread Lightly When You Travel: My Reputation Goes With You”

  1. Homepage August 14, 2013 at 9:57 pm #

    Thank you for sharing your nice site.

  2. deceptivelyblonde September 9, 2013 at 6:51 pm #

    Reblogged this on RamblingStudents and commented:

    Great tips for students abroad. Having fun is great; but don’t forget your basic rules of behavior!

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  1. RamblingStudents | Tread Lightly When You Travel: My Reputation Goes With You - September 9, 2013

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