We all make mistakes – but when you are heading abroad, little mistakes could mean the difference between being a prepared tourist, or a pompous jackass.
It isn’t too hard to look like a well traveled jetsetter, and it only takes a couple of common sense measures.
After the jump, you’ll find a list of things (I think) you should avoid if you plan to go abroad. Some of the items are quite logical, others may be things you’d normally overlook.
Feel free to add your own “don’t do’s” in the comments at the end of the article.
Leave the stupid T-Shirt at home
Your “Female body Inspector” T-Shirt may be a riot back home with the guys and girls, but when you are heading abroad, you may want to leave it behind.
A trip abroad doesn’t mean you need to dress up in your best tux, but remember that you are representing your country. A little respect and good behavior goes a long way. Plus most stupid t-shirts make you look like an immature jerk.
Loud and obnoxious
Speaking loud and slow is not a sure way to make people understand you. And no – this isn’t just something from the movies. I have witnessed plenty of people doing it.
Picture someone speaking Chinese (assuming you don’t speak any Chinese) – if they talk louder and slower, does it help you understand what they are saying?
Do keep in mind that foreigners may not always be able to keep up with your tempo or accent, so slow things down a little.
Don’t be the unprepared one
Before you leave, spend some time getting to know your destination. Investigate simple things like airport to hotel transportation, and the local voltage (that Travelocity gnome was onto something). Other things to keep in mind; will your phone work, can you get any required medications abroad and will your credit card be accepted.
Brush up on your geography
When you travel the world, you’ll come across people who are doing the same thing – so try and brush up on your basic geography.
I know it’s been ages since you had to learn the world capitals at school, but if you come across someone from Copenhagen, you’ll look like an ass if you tell them you’ve always wanted to see their home country of The Netherlands. And trust me, I’ve met people like this a lot, you’ll be amazed how quickly people forget basic geography as they grow older.
Learn the language (a bit)
Even if your only phrase is “do you speak English?”, speaking some of the foreign language will always show you put some effort into visiting their country.
English may be one of the most popular languages in the world, but to many people so is their language. Even with just a couple of hours practice a week, you’ll learn some of the basics of other languages.
Eating at US restaurants
Resist the temptation to ignore foreign foods by sticking to US restaurants when abroad. The only exception is when your favorite fast food chain offers something particularly local (like the Maharaja Mac in India). Try that once.
If you don’t want to eat all that icky looking foreign food, stay home next time. Part of heading abroad is adapting to their culture, which includes food.
Wearing a fanny pack
Seriously, just don’t do it. Very few people can pull it off without looking like a complete fool. If you need to carry that much crap with you, get a backpack or cargo shorts with big pockets. Nothing screams “rob me” like a loud tourist with a fanny pack.
You may think you look cool with your new Looey Vuitton luggage, or a nice Shannel handbag, but remember that anyone who knows a thing or two about luggage or handbags will spot you from a mile away.
Do you really want to be walking through the airport with people staring at you because they think you can’t afford the real thing? Just don’t do it – if you really want a piece of exclusive luggage, save some money, but don’t fall for the temptation of a counterfeit product.
The same goes for counterfeit watches, perfume or electronics. When you get back home and show off your new Roleks watch, do you really think your friends will think it is real? Another risk is the risk of being caught at the border – US customs and immigration will seize counterfeit products.