The largest expert travel community:
  • 738,335 Total members
  • 7,345 Users online now
  • 1,678,099 Threads
  • 30,231,435 Posts

How to Be a Less Hateable Tourist

How to Be a Less Hateable Tourist
Ariana Arghandewal

Their monetary value aside, tourists are pretty much despised in most places in the world. Sure, you can travel to a remote village in Afghanistan and get treated like a long-lost relative, but visit any destination frequented by tourists and chances are the locals aren’t too excited about your presence.

It’s understandable. Tourists sometimes behave badly, destroy the environment and important historical sights. Of course, they’re not all like that but it’s enough to leave a negative impression on some locals. With this in mind, here are a few ways to be a less hate-able tourist:


Stop Expecting People to Accommodate You

No one is expecting you to master Mandarin, but knowing a few basic words in order to communicate with locals is not such a crazy thought. This goes back to being respectful: If you’re visiting someone else’s country, know a little bit about their customs and language. It will help you connect with locals and show them that you’re trying and not expecting them to accommodate you.

That also goes for cultural norms. The last thing you want is to inadvertently make an obscene gesture or ask an inappropriate question when your intention is just to be friendly. Learn about local customs and avoid any behavior that could be interpreted as disrespectful or rude. It takes just a few minutes of research and could save you a lot of heartache.

Don’t Trash Talk the Locals

“I can’t believe these people don’t speak English!” You decided to visit their country, so expecting them to speak your language is absurd. Especially since there are tourists from all over the world visiting many of the same cities – are the locals really expected to learn all those languages? On the other hand, the locals may actually understand you, so don’t trash talk them. You never know who can understand you and take offense.

Give Back

I get it, we’re all just trying to see new places and enjoy our time off from work. But on your next trip, consider giving back to the community you’re visiting. If you’re in Greece, head over to one of the refugee camps and offer a helping hand.

They’re always looking for instructors and warehouse volunteers and it’s actually a great way to meet locals and fellow travelers alike. See if the local homeless shelter needs volunteers to help out in the kitchen, or maybe there’s a beach clean-up crew you can join for an afternoon. These experiences aren’t just fulfilling, they build a lot of good will between tourists and local communities.


Ultimately, being a good tourist is about being respectful, open, and making an honest attempt to connect with people. It’s the arrogant tourists who isolate themselves and treat locals with contempt that get labeled as “bad.” Be kind, understanding, and you’ll get the same treatment in return.


Do you have any tips for how to be a less hate-able tourist? Please share below.


[Image: Max Pixel]

View Comments (12)


  1. jonsg

    December 15, 2018 at 3:28 am

    Short, sweet and very, very true.

    Following these guidelines will open doors, hearts and minds.I can vouch for that from experience.

  2. turner32

    December 15, 2018 at 3:54 am

    What an obnoxious article.

  3. fotographer

    December 15, 2018 at 6:43 am

    if you going on a vacation with limited time.. where is the time to “give back” and by the way that phrase is getting old
    enjoy the country you are visiting.. understand that sometimes things take longer than you are used to (meals, lines, transport)
    remember this is not your own country

  4. TheRealBrendo

    December 15, 2018 at 5:44 pm

    If you are going to volunteer you need to make sure you aren’t going to end up doing harm. In some cases the good intentions of tourists can end up leading to worse outcomes such as orphanage tourism –

  5. ilcannone

    December 16, 2018 at 2:09 am

    “If you’re in Greece, head over to one of the refugee camps and offer a helping hand.”

    No. Refugee camps are NOT tourist grounds. There’s enough of that claptrap in Cambodian or African orphanages, we do NOT need any more clowns doing this for their own self satisfaction, which we all know it is, under the guise of “giving back”.

  6. AsiaTraveler

    December 16, 2018 at 2:41 pm

    I’m not a huge fan of the “give back” line. There may be appropriate opportunities to do so, but honestly many times “volunteer” opportunities turn into an industry unto themselves that can actually negatively impact the local culture or allocation of resources. It’s not a terrible idea but it requires a lot of questions and information that the average tourist may not have. I lean more on the side of, go, enjoy your trip, but spend your money wisely at local businesses and others that will positively impact that local economy.

  7. pointchaser

    December 16, 2018 at 5:28 pm

    @turner32 you should pitch that to my edit. 😉
    @fotographer that’s solid advice. And I get that some people are short on time. I personally found the times I’ve volunteered while on vacation to be the most enjoyable and meaningful. It can provide you with a unique perspective not many tourists get to experience.

  8. akl_traveller

    December 17, 2018 at 11:11 pm

    1. Learn some words in their language. It’s their country not yours.
    2. Use them

    99% of rudeness avoided with “hello”, “excuse me”, “thanks”, and “please” in whatever language they speak

  9. kshow

    December 19, 2018 at 4:53 am

    Turner 32 you are probably an ugly American if you think Ariana’s article is “obnoxious “. I always tell people who travel with me what the rules and expectations are. If you expect everything to be like home, save your money and stay home!!!

  10. JackE

    December 20, 2018 at 3:28 pm

    Give back? What do you think tourist dollars are?

  11. ksandness

    December 26, 2018 at 7:59 am

    Don’t brag about your own country. The fellow Americans who come back from overseas complaining that the locals are “anti-American” are usually the ones who love to talk about how everything is better back home. If not, it’s usually a misunderstanding of the local norms of friendliness and courtesy. Some cultures have different ideas of when it is appropriate to smile, for instance.

    If you are traveling to a country with a non-Roman writing system, print out the online maps of the hotels you have reserved, using the local language versions (Japanese, Arabic, Thai or whatever). Also include the local phone number of the hotel. Both of these can be of immense help to local cab drivers or local residents who are willing to help confused tourists.

    Learn how to say a few vital phrases in the local language, especially “Do you speak English” and “Where’s the toilet”? There is really no substitute for the latter phrase, and if the person you are talking to does not speak English, he or she will probably be able to find someone who can.

    Read a good guidebook before you go. The Insight Guides are low on specific tourist information but excellent on culture and history. I can’t believe the number of people on Flyer Talk who expect a bunch of strangers on the internet to plan their entire trip for them.

  12. simpleflyer

    December 27, 2018 at 4:07 pm

    It is apparent that I have a different standard for what constitutes ‘hateful’ than does the author.

    I steal from a vendor – that’s hateful. It’s certainly hateful if I beat him senseless for whatsoever reason (is there such a thing as a reason to beat someone?) Anyway, this idea that somehow, it is disrespectful to ask what I might like to have; that this amounts to a DEMAND that I be accommodated, that my request be served, is nuts.

    2. “Don’t trash talk the locals”. As opposed to trash talking all those hateful tourists out there (the ones not like you and me?)

    3. “Give back.” Not everything I have to give, may end up being net of such expense and/or headache to the refugee camp management as I end up imposing on them.(Volunteers who aren’t coordinated – and coordination takes someone’s time and energy – are rarely useful.)

    4. A few language phrases. This is a fairly standard (and good) piece of advice, except that aside from ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ there is little point my learning to ask ‘where is the x’ as I wouldn’t understand the directions in English, let alone the local language.

You must be logged in on the FORUM to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply


More in Advice

Case Closed? Miss Manners Says It’s OK to Bring Kids in Business Class

Jennifer BillockFebruary 12, 2019

Don’t Let the Bed Bugs Bite: A Travel Guide

Jennifer BillockFebruary 9, 2019

How I Got Scammed Exchanging Money in Bali

Anya KartashovaFebruary 6, 2019

Copyright © 2014 Top News Theme. Theme by MVP Themes, powered by Wordpress.