Since I’m already counting the days to my trip to Italy, I’m dressing my costume as a tourist. The funny things is that I have been working as a tour guide for almost four years. Yes, I have a life of my own and I travel, besides that. And of course, there are certain things that you can’t get rid of when on holidays. It’s in your blood. I’m not going to Italy and study beforehand, and do guiding tours to my friends. I’m going with an empty mind, more relaxed as a person on holidays shall be, but the tour guide bug will follow me. I like helping to organize daily travelling: what to see and what to do, and throughout the years I’ve been more aware of my behaviour as a traveller too. So, I’m seeing things through another perspective. Overtourism is such an issue nowadays that we need to be more conscious of your own behaviour, as tourists, when on holidays. I have thought at least of 5 rules that I will try to follow.
- When you are in a different country, just be as if you are in your house
Moving yourself, away from your home and daily routine, gives us a deep feeling of freedom and transformation. It can be dangerous at some point, when you think that you can behave differently, specially if you are in a sunnier country with cheaper beer. No one knows you. But you will be certainly remembered not for the good reasons.
In that way, keep that in mind. When you are at home, you certainly would like things organized and fixed. You don’t throw litter to the floor and you like to have everything in order. Of course, I’m not saying that you should have an OCD when travelling but at least you need to think that when you are in a different country you need to respect the places you are visiting and the people who live there. Check if there are any specific rules, like how to dress when getting inside a church, or a religious place. Find just simple ways to respect the local culture.
2. Say hello, feel integrated!
In Portugal, it’s OK when you speak to us in English, we don’t mind since we like to communicate, even with sign language, if necessary. But in certain countries, they feel as if it is rude if you don’t try to speak just a few words of the local language. I don’t mean to learn the language, but at least to manage with some basics like ”hello”,” goodbye”, ”one coffee, please”.
To give you an example, French are considered not to be very smiley to tourists, but since I had made an effort when I was in Paris is practising my poor French, I discovered a completely different French people: smiley and welcomed.
3. Control your social media addiction
I know, I know… you are right in front of the lean tower of Pisa, and you would like to take that cliché photo to share to the world. I know, I know, you can’t help, but taking that other cliché photo right in front of those colourful tiles. But how about, reducing your time through the camera, to take more time by looking at things through your eyes? You will keep your travelling memories to yourself and appreciate them, even more.
4. Buy in local commerce
Another thing you can’t help is to buy souvenirs when travelling. Look for items made in the country you are visiting, and try to avoid those cheap souvenir shops in which the products are made somewhere else. This way, you are helping the local economy to grow. And another phenomena that happens when travelling is to buy more than you actually need. So, try to control your money on souvenirs, keeping in mind if you really need to buy and save it for the best ice-cream in town. Keep your money for the travel experience and not for shopping too many goods.
5. Choose responsible walking tours
Having a tour in the city, with a very informative guide is the best way to get to know the place you are visiting. I have booked myself some to my Italian trip and I follow the simple criteria of choosing small groups and / or private tours. This way, you will get to know better the places, you feel free to ask questions to your local guide and it’s more like walking with a knowledgeable friend. It’s far much better than being inside of a large group, not hearing what the guide says, because you are among noisy people who are just doing a tour as a social meeting, not caring much to the info that the guide is screaming about.
Of course, if you happen to be in the beautiful city of Lisbon, just book a tour with Fora da Rota Tours, my personal business, and I show you the best experience ever in the city with really special walking tours! The greatest way to discover Lisbon!