Size Does Matter
Tourists tend to be pretty idealistic about how much they can see of a country while on a short vacation. While there are destinations that can be covered in just a few days (we’re looking at you, Luxembourg), Australia is most definitely not one of them.
Americans tend to be more understanding of this, as they’re accustomed to driving a whole day and barely leaving the state but Europeans are often thrown off by the sheer size of other countries.
The Biggest Tourist Scam
Overpriced taxis are pretty much the oldest tourist scam in the book. Taxi drivers can charge pretty much whatever they want based on the assumption that the tourists won’t know any better.
Even if the passenger insists on using the meter to determine the price, the driver can just take a long way around the city — when the tourist’s destination is right around the corner. Anyway, there’s no better way to learn a culture than taking public transportation!
Well, That’s Ambitious
Road tripping is a huge part of touring the US but it’s important to be realistic in one’s expectations of how much ground a person can cover in one trip.
The US is massive and different areas have vastly different cultures and points of interest. Therefore, it’s best to either take a very long trip to see the whole US or just focus on one cluster of states and really see everything that they have to offer.
Hotels Are for Fools
Sure, one can pay a ton of money to stay in a fancy hotel that will be just like any accommodation they can find in their home country — or they can stay in a riad and truly experience Morocco.
Given Moroccans’ stress on superb hospitality and the pricing of riads, tourists get a lot more bang for their buck with this option. Plus, it’s a great way to fully immerse yourself in the Moroccan culture.
Not All Fries Need Ketchup
A dead giveaway that a person’s a tourist, and has an extremely strange taste, is if they eat poutine with ketchup while in Canada.
Canadians take their poutine very seriously and, while they’re known for being incredibly nice, we wouldn’t want to see what would happen if a person were to insult poutine in front of a local. Our advice? Leave the ketchup for regular fries back home, where it belongs.
When in Rome…
This is a common tourist mistake in pretty much every popular vacation spot — people just stick to the famous cities and attractions, which results in them missing out on some serious gems. In order to really learn about a culture, one has to venture outside the main cities that are probably filled with other tourists anyway.
A good rule of thumb is to try to stay away from areas where everyone speaks English if one really wants to immerse themselves in the country they’re visiting.
It’s Not K-Pop Land
Tourists go to Korea expecting it to be like the K-Pop version of Disneyland, where everyone’s dressed up in character and looks ready to burst into song at any moment.
We hate to disappoint but life is not a music video and the average person doesn’t really dress like that for a day in the office. We recommend that tourists leave their extravagant costumes at home and just pack some stylish clothes for their trip to Korea.
Not So Much…
Not only is Hong Kong significantly more expensive than other Asian countries but it was actually named the world’s most expensive city for ex-pats. Of course, it all depends on which country a tourist is coming from and what they compare it to — but it’s certainly far more expensive than Thailand.
An average trip to Hong Kong is around $1,500 per person for one week. While that’s certainly not the most expensive, it’s definitely not Thailand, where a tourist could spend a week with just a few hundred dollars.
Tired Old Stereotypes
This is pretty much the equivalent of thinking that Texas is full of people wearing cowboy hats and boots, riding their horses to work each day. While Scotland has its fair share of redheads, they’re still the minority as far as hair colors go.
Kilts are only worn for tourist attractions or, sometimes, at weddings. Not every Scottish person knows how to play the bagpipes, either — just like not every American knows how to play football.
Can’t Handle the Heat
Different cultures have different definitions of what’s spicy, so it’s always best to err on the side of caution. If one is in a popular tourist destination, then the locals are probably used to having to water down their food a bit.
A good trick is to let the waiter know where you’re visiting from so the cook can assess the level of spice that you’re able to handle. Or one could be adventurous, like this guy was, and spend half their trip in the bathroom.
We’ve Arrived at the Destination
Oxford University’s official website says the following: “Oxford is not a campus university, the University and College buildings can be found throughout the city center.”
If tourists are hoping for a photo opp in front of a specific building that’ll tell their social media followers where they are, Oxford University may not be the destination for them. That being said, it’s still definitely worth a visit, even if it’s not the UK’s most Instagram-worthy location.
One Big Tourist Attraction
Assuming that Amsterdam represents the Netherlands is the same as thinking that New York City is a representation of the entire US. While a lovely city, Amsterdam is really its own entity that isn’t a perfect example of the Netherlands as a whole.
Believe it or not, there are even parts of the Netherlands in which sobriety is highly valued. Now, that’s not what most tourists expect when booking a trip to Amsterdam!
It’s Not the Same Thing
Spanish and Portuguese are similar but by no means are they the same language! People like to compare them to American English and British English, where just a few words and the accent are different but that’s simply not the case.
Portuguese and Spanish are completely different languages that have certain words in common. Basically, if a person doesn’t know the correct language of the country they’re in, it’s best to play the ignorant tourist and stick to English.
Going for the Wet Look
Unless a person is going for the wet/hair slicked-back look, they may want to keep in mind that Singapore is extremely humid. Despite the random rain that one might experience there, it’s still very hot.
The public transportation in Singapore is incredibly safe and reliable, so that may be a tourist’s best bet. Keep in mind, though, that eating or drinking on a bus or train is illegal in order to preserve the country’s cleanliness.
Become a Night Owl
While some countries have a very “go, go, go” mentality in the mornings, Australians are a bit more laid-back and like to start their days slowly. The real treat in Melbourne, specifically, is its nightlife as it’s known to be the country’s party capital.
For those looking to really experience Australia, it’s probably best to sleep in just a bit and save up energy for after the sunsets. Mornings are for tourists but the night is Australia’s real time to shine.
Rain, Rain, Go Away
When people think about Florida, they tend to think about beaches, flamingos, retirement, and Florida Man news stories. One thing that tourists always seem to forget about, though, is the consistent rain. Pack the beach clothes, pool noodles, and golf shirts — but don’t forget about proper rain gear too.
Even when it’s not raining, it’s super humid, so get ready to be soaked either way. On that note, get ready for some terrible hair. Remember that episode of Friends when Monica’s hair was super frizzy? Yeah, like that.
Gotta Pay Those Bills
While some European countries do tip, others do not, but tipping is absolutely essential in the US. Wait staff’s base salary is shockingly low so tips are really where they make their money.
Even if someone received poor service, they should still leave some form of a tip as that’s a person’s livelihood at stake. Tourists should bear in mind that not tipping in the US makes a serious statement as to what they think about their server… and it’s not a flattering one.
Ask and You Shall Receive
In the US, when asked how you are, the only socially acceptable answers are “fine” or “good,” which begs the question — why are we meant to ask in the first place?
There are many countries that don’t do those sorts of pleasantries when starting a conversation, so if one asks a person how they’re doing, they will answer… honestly. Unless a person is ready to hear all about a stranger’s personal problems, it’s probably best not to ask at all.
Not All Taxis Are Real
Jamaica is a beautiful country with wonderful people, making it a great travel destination! That being said, it’s important to be safe anytime one travels and Jamaica is no different. While taking taxis is a popular way for tourists to get around, there are fake taxis that can be dangerous if confused with real ones.
Real taxis in Jamaica have red and white license plates with the letters PP on them. It’s also recommended for tourists to book cabs through their hotel concierge.
That’s Not Red Paint…
Everyone rides bikes in the Netherlands and we do mean everyone… cycling is even how the Prime Minister there gets to work! With a population of 17 million people, the Netherlands boasts a whopping 22 million bikes.
Therefore, we strongly suggest taking a good look around before walking outside. Sure, it’s important to look right and left for cars but what tourists really need to watch out for are the bikes so they don’t end up adding to the red bike lanes.
Got it, Mate!
People from the US can compare Australia’s “mate” to the South’s “bless your heart” — meaning it can be very good, or very bad, depending on a lot of factors. In general, it’s best for tourists to avoid local slang unless they’re incredibly sure of how to use it properly.
The last thing anyone needs is to get into a fight in a foreign country because they thought they were calling someone a friend but insulted them instead.
Don’t Be a Show-off
While being a show-off is poor form in general, there are specific countries where one has to be extra careful not to flex their perceived wealth. Many locals choose to buy phone cases with rings on the back, so they can loop their finger to their phones, in order to avoid someone just grabbing it and running off.
Another safety tip is to wear jewelry turned out so that any precious gems aren’t visible. It’s also best not to handle cash in public in countries with higher crime rates.
“Don’t Go to Oslo”
While it’s possible to see the northern lights in Oslo, it’s not at all a reliable place to ensure seeing the lights. The northern lights are best seen from Bodo, Tromso, or Alta — which are all 16 to 19 hours away from Oslo.
It’s also important to note that whether or not one can see the northern lights will depend on the weather, so it’s best not to hinge the entire trip on that one experience.
Stand Out From the Crowd
If the sole purpose of one’s trip is to have the experience of visiting a particular destination, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. However, if a person really wants to see an entire city, it’s usually not worth it to wait in line all day for a specific restaurant.
Usually, those places are overhyped anyway and there are other locations that are just as special. Perhaps check out the places that the locals go to? They’re certainly not waiting in line all day, every day for their meal!
As Fake as Reality TV
Many locations have people selling fake tickets to shows they have no connection to, but Times Square in Manhattan has some of the worst of them.
Tourists should bear in mind that literally anyone can just stand there, sell stubs of paper, and claim that they’re legitimate tickets. Our advice is to always buy from the source, it may be a bit pricier, but at least it’ll get you into the show.
The Locals Know Best
It’s always best to listen to the locals, as a general rule of thumb. They clearly know what they’re talking about, after all. People are often surprised by how strong the sun is in New Zealand, especially if they’re coming from countries that are more commonly thought of as being warm.
However, the ozone layer in New Zealand is particularly thin and the UV levels are high, making people in the country more susceptible to sunburns.
No PDA Here
Indians take a lot of pride in their integrity and part of that is refraining from “obscene acts” — a.k.a. public displays of affection (PDA). While people can hold hands with their friends of the same gender, it’s considered offensive to hug or kiss one’s romantic partner in public.
In fact, PDA could earn a couple up to three months in prison, a fine, or both. Well, that’s one way to learn about a culture… through the prison system.
Who Does That Anyway?
We’re not really sure why anyone would go walking around touching people’s heads in any country but, apparently, it’s an even bigger no-no in Thailand.
It’s worth noting that a person shouldn’t prop their feet up while in public in Thailand, even at the beach, as it’s considered disrespectful. While sitting in a temple, one should sit with their feet to the side or tucked under their body so that their feet won’t face a Buddha statue.
Which Bridge Is Which?
Imagine that awkward moment when someone celebrates finally reaching London Bridge on their travels only to find out that it’s actually Tower Bridge. Apparently, that happens a lot as those are two of the most commonly confused tourist landmarks in the world.
While both bridges are certainly worth a visit, it’s probably best to know which one is which before posting a captioned photo on social media, revealing one’s lack of bridge-naming game.
It Was Really Good Pasta
This is actually a pretty adorable mistake and we’re really glad that those guys didn’t correct their mistake. If it makes the waiter feel good about the food he served, then why not?
We have to admit that we’ve had food good enough that it made us want to kiss the cook, regardless of gender, so we can absolutely relate! Good food is good food and deserves all the love for it.
Don’t Gift Bad Luck
This is extremely useful information for those who may want to get a ‘thank you’ gift for their host or hostess. Interestingly, many European countries have the opposite tradition, with an odd number of flowers being reserved for funerals. The idea is that one flower is “missing” its pair.
In Romania, the thought process is — an even number represents the fact that the person has closed the circle of their life and fulfilled what they needed to.
“Can’t Touch This”
Different cultures have widely varying needs in terms of personal space and it appears that Swedes need a lot of space to themselves. In fact, tourists shouldn’t get offended if a Swede takes a few steps back from them.
Of course, this doesn’t go for any and all conversations, it depends on how well the people know each other and what the context is. Excessive hand gestures aren’t too common in Sweden, either. However, eye contact is an important invitation to start a conversation.
It’s Not Like the Movies
Despite what Hollywood may tell us, there are actually a lot of rules in the Netherlands. Yes, the country is a lot freer than other parts of the world but there’s still law and order.
We imagine that a lot of tourists believe what they see about the Netherlands in the media and make the mistake of enjoying the country’s freedoms in the wrong places. It’s important to note that Amsterdam’s main attraction isn’t legal but rather decriminalized — there’s a difference.
Come Hungry or Don’t Come
Food is an extremely big deal in Middle Eastern cultures and if a tourist leaves the Middle East the same weight as when they came in, something has gone horribly wrong.
Pretty much everything in the Middle East is signified by food — either celebrating through eating a meal or refraining from eating during solemn times. A general rule of thumb when visiting the Middle East is either come hungry or don’t come at all!
Always Say ”Hello”
In many cultures, it’s perfectly acceptable to greet a roomful of people all at once, from afar. However, there are other cultures in which each person expects an individual greeting and one should go around the room in order to say “hello” to everyone.
Furthermore, greetings are exchanged before any form of transaction or conversation in Senegal. This includes if there’s only one person in the room the individual needs to speak to, they still need to greet everyone.
”Life Is a Highway”
A very common misconception about Germany is that there’s absolutely no speed limit on the autobahn. Tourists are often disappointed when they arrive, excited to live their childhood dreams of being racecar drivers, only to find out that there are restrictions.
Some parts of the autobahn indeed don’t have a speed limit, but freeways in Germany aren’t a free-for-all. A driver who sees a round sign with three black lines on a white background is free to do as they please, but do drive safely.
”One Country, Two Systems”
There are a lot of differences between Hong Kong and Mainland China, as tourists quickly learn. Hong Kong’s citizens speak Traditional Chinese, Cantonese, and English. On Mainland China, one can hear Mandarin and Simplified Chinese.
Hong Kongers tend to be more culturally influenced by Western countries and are arguably more in tune with international trends. Meshing Hong Kong and Mainland China in our minds is an even bigger faux pas than pretending that New York and California are exactly the same.
The Flags Serve a Purpose
It’s always frustrating when people are a little too confident, to the point where they’re blatantly ignoring rules that are put into place for a reason. That being said, it’s particularly embarrassing when it’s a tourist, causing the locals to go out and rescue them because they’re representing an entire country.
Let’s all put our egos aside and simply follow the guidelines in place, at least out of respect, if for nothing else.
Who Hikes in Flip-Flops?
Clearly, some tourists are dramatically underestimating the intensity of these hikes. Either that or they’ve literally never been hiking before. Although, there’s really no excuse if there are literally signs warning tourists of this very issue.
The worst part is when people have to go and rescue them, essentially making them pay for someone else’s lack of listening to the volunteers trying to help them. We doubt that’s the impression any tourist wants to leave on a country!
We’re Not in Kansas Anymore
Although Canada and the US may seem to be the same, to someone who’s never been to either one (or watched the news), they’re actually completely separate countries. So, why would anyone expect US currency to be accepted in Canada?
On another note, we have to admit that it’s pretty clever for gift shops to sell a basic supermarket staple at five times the price. How have we, as tourists, never thought to just go to the grocery store?!
It’s Just a Suggestion
In many cultures, plopping some food down onto a table without saying a word would imply that it’s complimentary. That being said, there are also cultures in which unordered food at the table is simply a suggestion. A suggestion that the diners will be charged for.
Therefore, it’s always best to clarify with the wait staff before eating the food in question. Unless one is willing to pay the price, of course, in which case — dig in!
Don’t Be ‘That’ Tourist
Many touristy locations tend to rip off travelers who come to their countries, it’s simply a hazard of being a foreigner. The assumption is that tourists don’t know the general prices of things, so they end up paying way more than they need to.
This is easily resolved with some basic research before traveling, to familiarize oneself with the prices in the country of question. It’s like that old Geico commercial — “15 minutes could save you 15% or more…”
V Is For…
While many hand gestures may feel universal, they often are not. Usually, the repercussions will be simply that no one understands what a person is trying to say, which isn’t too bad. Occasionally, though, a tourist can accidentally be truly offensive.
Interestingly, even in countries with the same language (such as the US and UK), the same hand gesture can have wildly different meanings. That, folks, is why we must always do our research before traveling.
It’s Bigger Than It Looks
Never underestimate the sheer size of good ol’ Canada. The general recommendation is to spend a couple of months traveling Canada in order to really see everything the country has to offer.
Of course, there will always be those ambitious tourists who try to cram everything into a quick trip. Much like any time we try to cram large things in, rather than giving them the TLC they deserve, tourists will be left disappointed.
Don’t Mess With Them
Repeat after us — Never, EVER, mess with the Queen’s men. There are videos all across social media in which disrespectful tourists learned the hard way that the Royal Guard isn’t playing around.
Either way, why bother those people who are just trying to do their jobs? Imagine if some tourist tried to come to your place of work and mock you? Let’s all try to do better and represent our countries with dignity by not starting fights we’ll surely lose.