Sunday, September 8, 2013

Top Five Tips for Being a Good Traveler

This post originally appeared as a guest post for Melyssa on The Nectar Collective
She's an American expat living in Japan and if you don't already follow her blog, you must!

I have a small confession.   Sometimes I'm not the best traveler. (This is where you pretend to be shocked.)  Maybe I'm tired or grumpy or sick or it's Tuesday.  I start complaining about everything.
My husband Matthew calls it my "Princess Bubble."    

Suddenly everyone is on a mission to invade my space and tick me off.  They're walking too slow in front of me.  They're walking too fast up behind me.  They're talking too loud.  They're mumbling and I can't understand them.  They're blowing smoke in my face.  They ran out of Pinot Grigio Blush. (Now that one is just unforgivable.)  Being the master of nonverbal communication that I am, I don't hide my discomfort very well.
(Let's just say I'm really good at pouting.  I make an effort.)  

But when you're traveling, a positive attitude is a must.
It can make all the difference between a dream trip and a fiasco.

So, here are my Top Five Tips for Being a Good Traveler.  

1.  Do your Travel Homework.  The more you know before you go, the better.   Read and research as much as possible before you hit the road.  Study a map of the city you are visiting.  Familiarize yourself with the transportation system.  Have a plan of the places you want to see and restaurants you want to try.  Logistics are your responsibility so don't be a lazy traveler and depend on others to figure things out for you.   Besides, this is the best part.  All of that knowledge will come alive once you've experienced your destination.

2.  Go with the Flow.  Once you've done all of your homework and hit the road, it's time to relax and enjoy.   Not everything will go according to your well researched plan and that's okay.  Construction at the hotel, plane delays, lost luggage, massive crowds or closed attractions because of a special event.  There is so much that you can't control, so you have to be prepared to adjust.  Sometimes those little bumps turn into the highlight of the trip.  Although sometimes they just completely suck.  (But they always make great stories.)

3.  Research and Respect the Culture.   This is the biggest complaint about bad tourists.  They are clueless and don't respect the culture of the place they are visiting.  Exploring culture and customs is the best way to learn about a new locale.   Consider social mores and religious practices when planning your travel attire.  Be prepared to cover up when visiting a religious site.  There are typically a lot of customs around food and dining.  You certainly don't want to offend anyone so do a little research in this area before you go.

4.  Learn the basics of communication
.   Learn how to say Hello, Goodbye, Please and Thank You in the local language of your destination.  Such a little thing can go along way.  Don't be afraid to ask how to say something correctly.  Just the fact that you're making an effort is endearing to most people.

5.  Be Polite and Positive.  This is the most important tip for being a good traveler.  Just be nice.  So simple, but so important.  Even when you aren't getting the same in return, try to stay positive.  If you feel like the Princess Bubble is about to deploy, stop for a rest, some coffee or gelato.   Time for a little attitude adjustment.  Take a deep breath and regroup.   This is your vacation so make the most of every moment. 
I realize that often being a good traveler is easier said than done.  The fact that my poor travel attitude has a special name tells you how often I struggle.  But, when I remember these five tips, I always manage to have a great time.  

Happy Travels!!

What are your top tips for being a good traveler?

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  1. LOL well, I do tend to agree that's not the most flattering photo I've seen of you! But, thank you for linking up and for your very sensible tips that have still brought a smile to my face

  2. I don't think I could have thought of better tips myself! You really covered all the bases. Learning the basics of the language, courtesy, and familiarizing yourself with maps/transportation go a long way towards making your stay in a new place more enjoyable.
    We all have our grumpy, impatient times, trust me!

  3. Fab tips! So glad I found you on #FabFirstFriday, and look forward to following your posts!

  4. Really great tips! Definitely will have to keep these in mind and I totally agree about learning the basics. You should never go into a foreign country without knowing how to say hello or thank you!

  5. It's an adventure, with adventure comes the unexpected. So be flexible! That's my one tip! ;-) You are a woman after my own heart. I get books for and about everywhere I go...Rod just knows that's another expense to plan on. I love to learn about my surroundings!! Love your tips!

  6. These are excellent tips and I agree with all of them I'd also add 'Talk to the locals' as well. It's amazing what you discover if your engage with the local people you encounter such as taxi drivers, cleaners and waiters.

  7. Well said. this is the perfect way to not lose you mind while you are out and about!!

  8. These are all so true.

    And it made me think. I've always prided myself on being a great traveller. Whatever happened on my travels, I'd definitely go with the flow. But these tips definitely apply to being an expat too - I wish I had just realized sooner!

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