The complete guide to not being a terrible tourist
If there’s one thing summer 2017 has taught us, it’s that “over-tourism” is a thing. Now that we know that locals are paying a heavy price when tourists hit their cities en masse, it’s time to learn how to travel without harming the cities we’re visiting. Think you’re not part of the problem? Think again. But there’s hope for us yet. Our cousins from around the world tell us what pissed them off, and what we can do to stop.
NO selfie sticks, avoid Times Sq., avoid chain restaurants (NO OLIVE GARDEN) and support local businesses/restaurants/bars, and don’t wear Abercrombie!
Don’t carry around a subway map, Do download a subway app.
Don’t take a tour bus, do take a tour boat.
Don’t stand on the corner of Bryant Park yelling “please stop pushing us! We’re not from around here!” (Which I’ve seen). Do, understand that NYC is very crowded.
Don’t be fooled, New Yorkers are very helpful and friendly!
Do take advantage of every area of the city and not just Times Square 🙂
Don’t assume people will walk around you if you stop in the middle of the sidewalk to take a picture.
Portugal and Lisbon don’t belong to Spain – make sure you know this.
Be a polite as possible and learn to say “obrigado” (Thank you).
Act like a part of royalty: Portuguese are emphatic and nice, be like one.
Don’t pollute our city.
Walking on bike lanes: In Amsterdam, biking comes first. When walking around the beautiful streets of Amsterdam – use the sidewalks! If you don’t want to get “accidentally” hit by a dutchie with an attitude, remember that bike lanes are for bikes, and for bikes alone.
Biking (poorly) around: Naturally, tourists don’t really know their way around, often stop to advise their map and tend to bike much (muuuuuuch) slower than the rest of us, making us all pretty annoyed. Want to be a good cycling tourist? keep to the right, NEVER stop abruptly in the middle of the road, signal before turning and please, don’t try to show off.
Bikes & people: While we have many bike lanes, some areas don’t have them, which means people and bikes share the road. That usually works perfectly fine but some tourists tend to go completely overboard and panic when they see a bike approaching them. So, when the situation arrives, if you are standing – remain standing and let the bike go around. If you are walking – stop, and let the the bike go ahead. Very simple, very nice.
Smoking your days away: Yes, legal weed is one of the main reasons people travel to Amsterdam. But the city has so much more to offer except dark, smelly and crowded Coffee shops, which represent nothing of the true Amsterdam look, vibe or any of the various cool scenes. Sure, having a couple of joints is fun but please, don’t waste your whole visit stuck in dingy coffee shops. That would be a real shame.
Not Exploring: Amsterdam is small. You can really discover A LOT in a weekend or 3 days and get a truly diverse experience. However, many tourists think the city is only De Wallen (historic centre & red lights) and Leidseplein, and don’t dare getting their nose past the last canal. You have no idea how much you miss by sticking to the centre. There is wonders to discover! it’s not all about fries and mayo…
Ride a ‘beer-bike’: This is the biggest NO and personally my biggest annoyance (please google ‘beer bike Amsterdam‘ so you know what I mean). You will never ever see local people ride such a monster. In Amsterdam we like to ride our bikes everywhere, and we like to go fast. There is a specific rule of order in Amsterdam traffic, these beer bikes now disrupt this whole rule of order as they are too big, too slow, too loud and block our beautifully designed bike lanes. So just don’t.
Let yourself convince by a promoter to eat in one of many ‘Argentinian steakhouses’ in the Korte Leidsedwarsstraat or Lange Leidsedwarsstraat: It will not be your best meal and you will be surrounded by only tourists who got trapped just like you. There are a so many great restaurants in the city, just check my map for some suggestions!
Buy from street dealers: I know it’s very exciting that you can legally smoke everywhere, but please just go into a proper coffeeshop to buy whatever you want. Do not buy from street dealers even though they might offer you a cheaper price. Chances are high they will steal your purse at the spot.
You should definitely enjoy a can or bottle of beer in a park or besides the water (because consuming alcohol in public is allowed). But what you shouldn’t do, is throwing away the cans or bottles in the trash bin. In Denmark you can bring the cans and bottles back to the store, to recycle them, and to receive a small monetary reward for it. As you might not need that 1 kr, there are a lot of people collecting the bottles and earning their dinner with it. So you can actually put your empty cans and bottles next to the trash bin, in specially designed holders, so that other people can recycle them!
What you also should do, is rent a bicycle. But what you shouldn’t do is to disobey the rules (because you will get fined for them!): drive through the red light, drive without lights, drive with a person on the backseat. You should also not forget to show your hand when you are making a turn, and to hold up your hand when you are about to stop.
Don’t mention the fact that Denmark hosted the Eurovision song contest. Most Danes hated it, because there was a lot of money spend on a huge venue, which was only used once.
Don’t stop suddenly in the middle of the busy pavement and have a family discussion. Don’t stand on the left side of the escalators. Don’t stand and have a conversation front of the tube map at the station. Don’t put recycle in a compose. Please say ‘thank you’.
Do not wade into fountains. Do not get into a bar and insist in paying a coffee by credit card. Do not order a cheeseburger in an Italian restaurant (otherwise you will be treat like an ingrate). Stop asking about Berlusconi (I assure you we are trying hard to forget him). Do not plan your trip minute by minute. Get lost and enjoy the city in an anxiety-free mood.
Put the cameras and phones away, experience that moment fully for once. There surely millions of shitty photos of that statue / that street light etc.
Spend more money at the random small shops, don’t go to H&M or Forever 21, take advantage of the amazing local talent and curation.
Try local food, don’t perpetuate the garbage food chains that you all love and know so well. Try places with small menus (they can be cheap as well) or street food at markets.
Be respectful and conscientious just as this were your city, clean up your trash. This of course is an everyone problem but when you are a guest just respect.
Get an app, study just a bit the language/culture and gestures of where you are traveling.
Complain about prices: Yes, you are in Sweden. You somehow took this decision and if you didn’t know that it would be expensive then you should read more news, watch more film and change some of your friendships. The prices has so far never dropped because tourists complaints, and never will be. So you just have to get jiggy with it. There are hidden places where you can find cheap drinks, food etc. Just check out my guide and you’ll find some of the best shitty-amazing places.
Only do touristy stuff: Yes, I know it’s fun to see monuments, visit museums, go through old town etc. But make sure you don’t miss the other part, the real country and city you’re in. Go where locals go. Eat what locals eat. Drink where locals drink. And the final boss you should face is to actually be invited to someone’s home. That’s the best way to see a new culture, country and city.
Walking slowly: It’s nice to stroll around aimlessly down the street in a new city. But please do it with attention to people on their way to a everyday shitty work on a normal shitty day in their normal shitty outfits. They don’t want to stroll. They want to walk fast and efficient to get home, sit down and think about what’s the meaning of all this. They don’t want to walk slowly behind you feeling like they’re slowly dying. So keep strolling but don’t take up the whole road.
Not adapting to the language AT ALL: Most of you that read this knows English. But a lot of people actually don’t. Which makes this post pretty useless. Anyway, if you’re in a country where they speak a language you don’t know, can you at least try to speak it and the way they do it? It can’t be that hard. Don’t say “Motchas Gracious”, try and just say “Mutchas Grasias” or something.
Being nervous in the public transport: It’s not your town and yes you’re not used to it. But stop fucking panicking. if you get off at the wrong station then perhaps it’s just funny and you can see something you didn’t intend to on your way to your correct location on your smart phone map.