French Given Etiquette Manual To Combat Rudeness

paris eiffel tower
Gary Cycles, Flickr

French tourism authorities desperate to overhaul the country’s reputation are handing out a manual aimed at teaching locals how to be polite to foreigners. France is the number one tourist destination in the world with nearly 30 million people visiting the capital in the past year; however, many foreigners leave Paris feeling snubbed by the locals.

The unhelpful tone and attitude used by shopkeepers or the unwillingness to speak English to tourists has earned the French a reputation for rudeness causing tourism bureaus to fear they will start losing visitors to friendlier cities in Europe.

The six-page booklet “Do You Speak Touriste?” teaches locals how to greet foreigners in a number of different languages and explains some of the cultural peculiarities of various nationalities. This includes referring to Brits by their first names, welcoming Italians with a firm handshake and greeting the Chinese (who are described as “fervent shoppers”) with a smile and a “Ni Hao.“Around 30,000 copies of the etiquette guide have been handed out to wait staff, taxi drivers, hotel managers, retail sales staff and other Parisians who regularly come into contact with tourists.

This is not the first attempt to encourage the French to be more polite to visitors – just last year the Parisian transport authority launched an ad campaign to end rudeness, and back in 2008, a group of locals set up a meet and greet service designed to showcase the friendlier side of the local folk. Five years on, the effort to combat rudeness continues… old habits, it seems, die hard.

Where are all the travel guide apps for Android?

travel guide apps for AndroidNearly two years ago, I bought my first smartphone: the T-Mobile Android MyTouch*. I’m only occasionally jealous of my iPhone-carrying friends, as I find few travel guide apps for Android. Even after a move to Istanbul, I still use and rely upon it daily; Android‘s interface is fast and easy-to-use, and seamless use of Google applications like Gmail and Google Maps is part of the reason I bought it in the first place. Living in a foreign country means English-language books and magazines are expensive and hard-to-find, and like many travelers, I don’t want to carry bulky books around when I’m on the road. This leaves a perfect opportunity for mobile developers to provide real travel guide content and not just travel-booking apps, especially apps produced by reliable media sources with professional editorial. These days, every guidebook and travel magazine publisher is coming out with apps for the iPhone and now iPad, supplying users with content and directions on the go, but there are hardly any for Android.

So what’s available for mobile travelers from the top travel book and print sources? Better hope you’re running Apple OS…Guidebooks:

  • Fodor’s: Happy 75th Birthday Mr. Fodor, but we wish you had more than just five city guides for purchase (in London, New York, Paris, Rome, and San Francisco) and only for Apple.
  • Frommer’s: iPhone guides are available for ten major cities in the US, Europe and Asia, but nada for Android.
  • Lonely Planet: iPhone users are spoiled for choice: dozens of city guides, language phrasebooks, audio walking tours, and eBooks optimized for the iPad. Android users in 32 countries including the US are in luck: there’s a free Trippy app to organize itinerary items, as well as 25 “augmented reality” Compass city guides and 14 phrasebooks. NOTE: This article originally mentioned that the Compass guides were unavailable in the Android Market store, but they should work for most US users. I happen to be in a country where paid apps are not available and not shown in the Market.
  • LUXE City Guides: 20 cheeky city guides work for a variety of mobile phones, including iPhone and Blackberry, but none are compatible with my Android. Bonus: the apps come with free regular updates and maps that the paper guides don’t have.
  • Rick Steves: If you are headed to Europe, you can get audio guides for many big attractions and historic walks for iPhone, plus maps for the iPad. You can also download the audio files free for your computer, and props to Rick for mentioning that Android apps are at least in development.
  • Rough Guides: Here’s a new one: the Rough Guides app works for many phones but NOT the iPhone OR Android! It’s not as slick as some of the other guides (it’s a Java app) and you will use data to use it on the road, but it provides lots of info for many cities in Europe. You can also find a Rough Guides photo app on iTunes to view pictures from around the world with Google Maps and captions from Rough Guides.
  • Time Out: City travelers and residents might want to look at the apps from Time Out for 5 European cities and Buenos Aires, with Manchester and New York on the way. More cities are available for free on iTunes, search for Time Out on iTunes to see what’s available. iPhone only.
  • Wallpaper* City Guides: 10 of the design mag’s 80 city guides are for sale for iPhone for Europe, Tokyo, New York and Los Angeles.

Print media:

  • Conde Nast Traveler: It makes sense for magazines to embrace the iPad, and CNT has free Apple apps specifically for Italy, cruises, and their annual Gold List of hotels and resorts. Blackberry users can download an etiquette guide, but Android users are snubbed.
  • National Geographic: As befitting any explorer, Nat Geo has a world atlas, national parks maps, and games featuring their amazing photography, all for iPhone. A special interactive edition of National Geographic Traveler is for sale on the iPad; you can also read it on your computer. Androids can download a quiz game and various wallpapers; and all mobile users can access a mobile-friendly version of their website at natgeomobile.com.
  • Outside: Adventure travelers can purchase and read full issues on the iPad, but no subscription option yet.
  • Travel + Leisure: The other big travel glossy also has an iPad app for special issues. Four issues have been released so far with one available now on iTunes (romantic getaways) but future editions will follow to be read on the app. Just in time for spring break and summer, they’ve also released a Travel + Leisure Family app with advice and articles specifically geared towards travel and families. The apps are both free but you’ll need an iPad – these are designed for tablets, not phones. You can also read full issues of T+L and their foodie cousin Food & Wine on Barnes & Noble’s NOOK Color ereader; you can save per issue if you subscribe to the e-reader version.
  • USA Today Travel: Most major newspapers have mobile readers for all types of phones, but USA Today is the only one with their own travel-specific app. AutoPilot combines an array of cool travel booking capabilities and information with articles and blog post from the newspaper. Only iPhone users can enjoy free.

Two of our favorite magazines, Budget Travel and Afar, have no mobile apps yet but great online communities to tap into their extensive knowledge.

All in all, other than Lonely Planet’s Compass guides, a pretty weak showing for Android travelers. While iPhone has been around longer as a mobile platform that Android, they’ve lost the market share of users to the little green robot. As Android is available on a variety of phone manufacturers and providers, expect that number to continue to grow, along with the variety and depth of content for mobile and tablet users. Will the developers ever catch up or will travelers have to choose?

*Android has not endorsed this or paid me anything to write about them. But to show I’m not biased – Apple, feel free to send me a sample phone and I’ll test out the apps!

Photo courtesy Flickr user closari. Special thanks to Sean O’Neill, who blogs on Budget Travel and the new BBC Travel blog.

SkyMall Monday: Lighted Nail Clipper/Magnifier

I’m going to be honest with you, many of you disgust me. Seriously, you are gross, impolite, awful people. Not all of you. Just those of you who think it’s perfectly acceptable clip your toenails in public. You know who you are. I’ve seen you on the subway. I’ve heard your clippers in bathroom stalls. Hell, I’ve seen you on airplanes! How do you sleep at night? Nail clipping is a private affair. It should be done in your own bathroom or seated immediately next to a trash receptacle. Any other locations are wrong on both a moral and ethical level. At the SkyMall Monday headquarters (which is shared with Ms. SkyMall Monday and our SkyMall Monday canines), nail clipping is done behind closed doors lest someone lose an eye to shrapnel. Not only do I dislike rudeness, I don’t want to date a one-eyed woman. And certainly not one whose ocular misfortune was caused by her keratin carelessness. Thankfully, SkyMall understands that nail clipping is an activity that must be done whilst one is squirreled away in a bathroom with wan lighting. To keep your cuticles cute, you’ll need proper equipment while you’re in exile. That’s why you need the Lighted Nail Clipper/Magnifier.Let’s start off with a list of places where you should NOT be clipping your nails:

  • On any form of public transportation
  • In your place of business
  • On a couch next to any other human being
  • On a couch when you are alone
  • Near a couch
  • In any room with wall-to-wall carpeting or a thick area rug
  • On a bed
  • Church/synagogue/mosque/any place of worship
  • Movie theater
  • Broadway theater
  • Interpretive dance theater
  • Buses
  • Planes
  • Trains
  • Hot air balloons
  • During any form of surgery
  • 99.9% of places on Earth

With that cleared up, we can move on. If you are going to clip your nails, you want to do so safely. You need proper lighting and adequate views of the nails in question. Biting is never an option. Precision is key. If you think touching the sides while playing Operation is scary, imagine fucking up one of your phalanges. If you think I’m exaggerating, you’re probably gnawing on your toenail as you read this. You’re an animal. Read the product description while I dry heave because of you:

Easily and safely trim your nails with this lighted nail clipper. Quality stainless steel spring loaded cutters for long use and includes batteries for LED light.

Batteries are included. For that alone, it gets the SkyMall Monday Seal of Approval. Throw in the fact that it’s “perfect for seniors and visually impaired” and allows for “smooth, fast, precise trimming,” and you’ll almost look forward to being banished to the bathroom while you trim your nails. Just be careful. I get worried when anything is spring loaded. That sounds like a recipe for eye damage. And you know how I feel about eye damage.

Now that you have the proper tools, there’s no excuse for clipping your nails anywhere near me or any other human being. Do the right thing, people. Clip in private. Clip with precision. Clip with dignity.

Check out all of the previous SkyMall Monday posts HERE.

10 annoying things you might not realize you’re doing on the airplane

There is a pleasant contingent of people out there who honestly try to be nice as well as cordial to strangers. If that sounds like you, have a look through this list. You may be offending when you fly and not even realize it. If, on the other hand, you read this list and are totally faux-pas free, you’re probably doing all right. Let us know how you fare below — and if you do really poorly, why not take a look back at The 10 Commandments of Airplane Etiquette? It’s a good place to start.

10 annoying things you might not realize you’re doing on the airplane

1. Reclining your seat during a meal.

You are moving someone’s food. While they are trying to eat it. That’s mean.

2. Leaving your window shade open.
If you’re like me, and out like a light (fast asleep) as soon as the aircraft leaves the gate, be sure that if you’re in the window seat, you’ve pulled down your shade. People need that added darkness to see their screens and/or to sleep. If you’re out cold when the movie starts, and your window is still open and letting the daylight blaze in, you have failed in your window seat duties.3. Eating messily, especially if it’s your own food.

I know it’s not grade school, and you can bring your own snacks even if you didn’t bring enough to share, but you may be making a terrible faux pas anyway. If you’re not eating during the meal service, it’s very likely that you forgot napkins, and are making a mess either of your row or on your tray table. As anyone who’s ever flown in economy knows, those tray tables don’t always get cleaned (well) between every flight. The stickiness stays. Seriously, choose your airplane snacks wisely, and bring wet wipes for you and the tray table.

4. Putting trash in the seat pouch.
That little magazine pouch in front of you is not for trash. Even if your mother told you it was, it’s not. Hold your trash calmly or leave it on your table until a flight attendant comes by for garbage. When you use the pouch for garbage, it is the equivalent of making a mess and hiding it.

5. Attempting major grooming in the restroom.

Not only does it take a good long time to shave, pluck your eyebrows, brush your teeth or whatever you’re doing, but it inevitably makes a mess. That’s not your fault — the plane is moving — but making the decision to do it while nice people wait in line IS. Then, they get into the restroom, which you may or may not have made an effort to clean up after your activities. Please try to remember that though it’s true, someone else will eventually clean it, it’s not like a hotel room. People you don’t know have to use that same space.

6. Bare feet.
Come on, really? Nobody wants to see your nersty toes.

7. Standing in the aisle to rummage through luggage in the overhead during boarding.

I know it “only takes a couple seconds,” and you “just have to get your phone” or whatever, but it’s not okay. Everyone needs to get onto the plane. If you have to rummage through something, pull it into your row and do it out of the way.

8. Talking too much.
You’ve just got to assume that nobody cares. If that seems cold to you, you’re looking for warmth in the wrong place. Keep in mind that your seat mate is a captive audience, and forcing them to listen to you may be borderline criminal, depending on their disposition.

9. Audio imposing.
Do you ever wonder if everyone around you can hear your iPod via your earbuds? Then ask a friend, because you don’t want to be “that person.” Additionally, turn the sound off on whatever games, computers and other devices you’re using.

10. Wearing a scent.
Even if you think you smell awesome, the person next to you is not likely to appreciate your bubblegum-scented body lotion, sexy cologne or even Chanel No. 5. Take a good shower and leave it at that. If you don’t have time to shower, and you happen to be a stinky person, everyone will smell it regardless of any additional scents. Don’t use them.

Just Febreeze yourself. (kidding)

Photo of the Day (5.4.10)

It’s hard not to be drawn in by such a colorful image; but my favorite part of this photo is the story behind it. Photographer Mike Goldstein took the shot while visiting the old temples outside of Bagan, Myanmar. Upon arrival, this young lady started taking him on a tour of the village – showing off the looms, cotton products, etc. Mike explains what happened at the end of the tour on his blog (which is worth checking out by itself):
“At the end of it she asked us for some money and we refused out of principle: she hadn’t asked us if we wanted a tour, she just started towing us around. In retrospect I can’t believe we didn’t just give her a dollar or something, it would have been a lot for her, but it goes to show how money can warp your mind in a place like this. I think we sometimes treat beggars like they’re pets to be trained, and we forget that – hey – how about sharing something we have enough of?”

When traveling, this is a common situation to be put in – so how do you handle it? Share your thoughts in the comments, and if you have a photo you’ve nabbed on an impromptu tour, we want to see it!

Submit to our Flickr pool and it could be the next Photo of the Day.