Things not to do while traveling: Be a good traveler!

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There are many things not to do while traveling. A good traveler should already know how to behave: Unfortunately, nowadays many people seems to have forgotten the basic rules of education and respect. Don’t worry, we’re not here to judge (maybe, just a bit) but to help you!

We have traveled quite a lot, we’ve seen many great destinations and met a lot of cool people. But we have also seen bad things. Once, a guy was (aggressively and rudely) bargaining the price of a drug in a pharmacy, in Phnom Penh. We were like, really? WTF you have in mind, if you do something like that? We felt really embarrassed, almost guilty for his behavior.

So, here is our list, full of tips for you. Follow them, and you’ll be a great traveler!

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koh phangan beaches
World is awesome, respect it!

10 things things not to do while traveling

Medical Insurance

Don’t travel without a travel/medical insurance, never. We never know what could happen, and being without one is really irresponsible. Too often, we all see people asking for crowdfunding because they are in trouble in Asia or South America. If you’re involved in an accident (time for a spell!), the hospitalization fares are incredibly high in many countries. It’s better to be safe than sorry!

Local traditions

We know you’re not this kind of traveler, but we can’t stress this enough: Don’t disrespect local traditions. In Thailand, for example, you shouldn’t have tattoos of Buddha. At least, you should cover them. In Asia, it’s considered offensive to point your feet towards someone else, as well as touching his/her head. If you’re visiting temples and pagodas, you shouldn’t wear shorts, bikinis and miniskirts. We saw many awful scenes in Angkor Wat: Girls walking around with shorts and miniskirts, while the guardians were too tired and sorrowful to stop them. One of them said us “They don’t care. Doesn’t matter how many times we tell people that they can’t be dressed like that, but they just don’t care”. Sad!

Don’t do this at home

things not to do while traveling
No helmet, just for posing!

Don’t do things that you wouldn’t do at home. That means that if you’re traveling or you’re on holiday, you should behave as you would in your country. Being a tourist doesn’t allow you to run half naked all around in some exotic city, or to do silly things – like riding motorbikes without helmet on a island. It’s not cool.

McDonald’s? Hell no!

One of the most important things not to do while traveling, is about food. Don’t eat at McDonald’s (and other fast foods)! C’mon, you’ve really traveled 10.000 km to eat a damn, standardized hamburger? Instead, try the local cuisine, you will find always something good. Food is a pillar of every culture in the world, so you shouldn’t miss the chance to be part of it. Go visit the markets, lose yourself in the local smells and flavors. Sweetness, spiciness, sourness: You’ll find all of this in many surprising dishes.

Taxi drivers

Don’t take taxis without taximeter, or at least without having agreed on a price with the driver. Otherwise, you will waste a lot of money. In the big cities, like Bangkok or Ho Chi Minh City, 90% of taxi drivers tried to scam us, together with tuk tuk drivers. If you’re a first time traveler, you can easily get in trouble. They often ask a crazy price from you at first, like 5-10 times the real price. Remember: Set the taximeter or bargain, always.

Smile!

Don’t be rude, never. A smile often solves many situations by itself. Be patient and open minded, the world is a great place to visit with a smile 🙂

Do you speak English?

If you want to be a good traveler, here is probably one of the most basic things not to do while traveling. Don’t get upset if people don’t speak English. A number of people in Asia, South America or even Europe, don’t speak English. Mainly, because they didn’t have a chance to go to a good school. Many of them will try to help you in any case, so be always grateful and don’t get angry if they don’t understand you. Instead, try to learn some words in the local language, at least the greetings and a way to say “thank you”!

Photos

portrait farmer myanmar
People are happy to be photographed, just ask in advance

Don’t forget your camera at home, with spare batteries and 3/4 SD cards. Traveling and photography is amazing, but remember: Always ask before point your camera on someone’s face. Again, 90% of the people are happy to be photographed, but we must remember the basic rules of education.

To bargain or not to bargain?

Our answer is yes, but not too much. Before leaving for our 6 months trip to Asia, many people warned us. They were like “You’ll be a walking wallet for the locals!”. Well, it happened sometimes, but very rarely. Prices for Europeans or Americans may be higher then for the locals, but it’s understandable. We also get annoyed if the difference is too much, but we have to say that it’s almost always a few cents. So, if you go to the market, and if you feel like scammed, try to bargain.

There are places where you’re supposed to bargain, otherwise you’ll pay an insane price. On the other hand, there are some other places where the prices are fixed and you shouldn’t bother yourself – and the shopkeeper – trying to get a discount. We must understand that we’re often “wealthier” than the population of a poor country, so we should be happy to help out, eating out and buying groceries. Even if the price is 10% higher!

Don’t give money to kids

Last but not least, don’t give money to begging children. Yes, it’s difficult. And yes, you might think we’re monsters. But let’s analyze the situation: The (poor) parents send their kids in the streets, hoping them to get some money from the tourists, instead of sending them to school. If they come back home with their pockets full of coins, their parents will do the same thing the day after. Over and over again. So, if you give your money to the street kids, you’re actually condemn them to that life. They need to go to school, in order to help to create a better future, for them and for the next generations. If you want to donate money, there are many great associations and schools out there. Do the right thing, in the right way!

Did we forget something? If you want us to add your point to the list, just leave a comment below! Share the post with other fellow travelers 🙂

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