10 Rules for Traveling the World without Being a Total Jerk

sponsored by G Adventures
story & photos by Lauren Breedlove. Follow her blog and Instagram, GirlWanderList. 

You’re in an irrationally beautiful location, feeling all sorts of amped up to explore and absorb the culture. You fought tooth and nail for the time off work; you’ve earned this. 

Just as you’re bathing in the serenity of the view that’s supplied your dreams for the past year, you’re jolted out of your reverie by a boisterously deafening conversation right before being smacked in the face with a selfie-stick as a couple of tourists scramble to get the best view using their sharp AF elbows, in complete disregard of your very existence. 

Well, that escalated quickly. What the actual F just happened? You’ve had a total tourist jerk encounter, something G Adventures is very, very familiar with.

Let’s be real, we’re all guilty of getting caught up in the moment and forgetting our manners in the midst of high emotional situations. Travel can do that. It can be awe-inspiring, emotion inducing, and passion promoting. 

G Adventures helps your tourism dollars stay in the destinations themselves; destinations that don’t tote the comfort of what you left behind in any cookie cutter accommodations you could literally find anywhere and everywhere else in the world. 

If you're trying to set yourself up for success right off the bat, travel the world with G Adventures

G Adventures helps your tourism dollars stay in the destinations themselves; destinations that don’t tote the comfort of what you left behind in any cookie cutter accommodations you could literally find anywhere and everywhere else in the world.

They offer more than 700 different travel packages that take you across the world and into the heart of local communities respectfully and sustainably. 

While you're booking your next great adventure, here’s a smattering of helpful, if not obvious tips to keep you from being THAT person: the jerky tourist. You can thank us later.

1. Know the rules

It starts straight out the gate, before you even take off to your coveted destination. Do not be appalled when you can’t bring a water bottle through security. 

Do not pitch a fit when the overhead space is full and you have to check your bag at the gate. Most importantly, do not crowd the gate at boarding before your group is called.

2. Mind the path

As a New Yorker, there might not be a singular thing more maddening than tourists standing smack dab in the middle of the sidewalk, blocking the way, when you’re on a mission to your next stop. Keep this flame of annoyance in your back pocket as a nice lil reminder when you’re the traveler. 

Don’t stroll in a bike lane. Be aware of where you put your body. Don’t block pathways. Just. Don’t. After all, you wouldn’t dare walk slow in the sidewalk fast lane at home, would you?

3. No McNothin

Leave the pickiness of your toddler days behind and dabble in the cuisine of the land you’re visiting. You’ll get the best and most authentic meals that way, and by noshing at local establishments, you’ll be putting money into the destination in a responsible way. 

This is exactly what
G Adventures is about: sustainable tourism; living like a local. Of course, to them, living like a local means more than kitschy appropriated nonsense. 

It means doing things that let your tourism dollars stay in the destinations themselves; destinations that don't tote the comfort of what you left behind in any cookie cutter accommodations you could literally find anywhere and everywhere else in the world; staying in local hotels, eating at locally owned restaurants with locally sourced ingredients. 

4. Grow TF up

No one likes middle schooler’s behavior for a reason, so do us all a favor and don’t revert back to your 12-year-old obnoxious self in the excitement of your travel ventures. 

There’s no need to pose naked with a statue, or take an unwelcome dip in a famous fountain. Don’t draw attention to yourself; be subtle. Oh, and handle your alcohol. The only thing worse than a jerk tourist is a drunk jerk tourist.

5. Leave the selfie stick behind

Don’t assault people (perhaps unknowingly) with a selfie stick. That sh*t hurts! In fact, ban yourself from selfie action in general. Just stop it with the GD selfies. 

6. Make an effort

If you’re traveling to a place where you don’t speak the native language, do not repeat what you just said louder. Use nonverbal communication, making at least an effort to speak the language, even if you do sound ridiculous. It will be much more well-received if you try.

7. Inform yo-self

Research beforehand. Learning the local currency, tipping customs, and cultural differences can prevent some major jerk tendencies. If math isn’t your forte, there’s an app for that. Not everything will be stated in US dollars and if you expect it to be, then a jerk you shall be. 

Be aware that certain things we do on the regular may be taken as rude or offensive elsewhere. 
So whether it’s donning a scarf to cover exposed skin, refraining from pointing at exquisite religious imagery, or not taking a photo where it’s prohibited, it’s all about respect.

8. Think small

Do not over-pack. Oversized baggage screams jerky tourist. We love our outfit options, of course and a small suitcase is some sort of prison for our fine fashion sense. 

However, the 108 knees you’ll likely take out with your large luggage while making your way down the train corridor will thank you if you go minimalist. Plus, the less crap you have to lug around from location to location, you’ll be thanking you too.

9. Leave home at home

…along with your expectations that you should have the comforts of home whilst traveling. There may not be air conditioning, or a regular toilet, and your alarm clock may be a rooster at 5 a.m. 

Embrace the differences, and don’t complain. Open your eyes and mind, and pop the bubble notion that everything is done better here at home. 

Of course, that also means leaving behind the expectations home is the only place you'll find everything you need. So, before you overstuff your luggage like a jerk, remember you can get the necessities wherever you're going.

Not only are you lightening the load, you're also supporting the local merchants and businesses in the places you're traveling. And who knows? You might even find your new favorite snack, accessory, or makeup product in the unlikeliest of places. BOOM! WINNING!  

10. Volume control

Don’t be needlessly noisy. This is one of the top indicators of a jerky tourist. Control your volume people.

Hell, let’s get wild and apply that as a general rule to your everyday life. Please and thank you.

Need more tips for traveling better? Take it from the pros at G Adventures and Sustainable Travel International. Check out their 15-minute, self-guided learning module that’s free when you register on their site.

Not traveling like a jerk is one thing, but learning how to travel responsibly is definitely another. Complete the module and you get a Travel Better Certificate to get member benefits as part of their Travel Better Club. Get select tips and special discounts on travel.

It literally pays to not be a jerk. 

[Feature Image Courtesy NBC New York] 

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