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How to avoid being a terrible tourist

Women's Weekly logo Women's Weekly 16/01/2017

© Provided by Bauer Media Group (NZ) LP We all hate the idea of being that tourist. The one who shouts loudly in their own language rather than learn the lingo, who acts obnoxiously in places of worship, or tries to impose their values onto another culture.

We’ve all seen them. And we all secretly pray that we’re not one of them. But what are the sure fire ways you can be a responsible, and respectful traveller? Here are our top ten sense checks when in foreign climes.

Learn the lingo

It’s hard, but try to learn the basics if you’re going to be in a country for a few days. Hello, goodbye, thank you and please are all good starts - even if that’s where the buck stops.

Wear clothing that’s acceptable

We might have it easy in the liberal west, but that’s not to say that everywhere is the same. Take note of how the locals dress and adjust accordingly. If women tend not to flash the flesh, be mindful so as not to insult residents.

Learn about local customs

Before you travel, do your research on local customs. Even in Europe there are quirks and social rules that don’t apply here in New Zealand – and it’s nice to know why a French person might suddenly take offence if you blow your nose in public.

Remember that you are the guest

Probably the most important point – you are visiting this country, therefore you should adapt to their customs – not they to you. Don’t expect things to be like back home.

Selfie etiquette

In this selfie obsessed world we live in, it’s easy to get carried away. But some sites of religious or spiritual importance are so not the place to be posing for a selfie. Engage brain, then act.

© Provided by Bauer Media Group (NZ) LP Avoid dodgy souvenirs

When travelling, it can be tempting to pick up things that are so random and rare you just can’t wait to show your friends. But the last thing you want to be doing is supporting illegal or harmful practices in doing so. From coral to ivory, steer clear of things you know shouldn’t be on sale, so in turn you lessen demand.

Watch your waste

In many countries, waste management is a massive issue. From reusing your water bottles to being mindful of how much rubbish you are producing – try not to contribute to garbage output.

Be a tidy Kiwi

We’re known for keeping our streets and beaches clean and sparkling, so why not encourage this in the place you visit too? Even if it’s just picking up trash from outside your apartment, it’s showing some responsibility to the place that’s housing you.

Choose sustainable accommodation

Some hotel chains and lodges are far more environmentally friendly than others. From encouraging you to forgo a daily towel wash to save energy, to using sustainably sourced products, do your research before you travel – you might as well give money to those who are trying to do good.

Avoid exploitative animal encounters

We all want to pose for that photo with a tiger or on top of an elephant – but a lot of these practices exploit wild animals in a way which is very unfair. There are ways of doing this ethically. Simple look up sanctuaries and registered NGOs to make sure you are going with a company that looks after animals properly.

All in all, the best travel advice we’ve ever read is to try and be an example, and represent your country in the way you’d want it to be viewed by others. Be king, polite and respectful, and enjoy your trip.

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