4 ways to be a more mindful traveler (and end the ugly American stereotype!)

29 Sep

As much as I love to travel, I can’t stand tourists. Yes I know, when I travel I’m also a tourist. But after spending several summer months in one of the biggest cities in Europe, it’s easy to spot the experienced vs. first-time international travelers.

Traveling certainly can be stressful and unpredictable, but that is no excuse to not act like a respectful human being. Here are four ways to be a more mindful traveler on your next trip abroad.

Respect cultural differences
When traveling internationally, it can be tough not to focus solely on the differences between one’s home country and the destination. Americans in particular find it hard to accept that many countries make you pay to use the restroom, ice and tap water are often nonexistent and bartering for goods is commonplace. But it’s important to remember different doesn’t mean wrong. Every country has unique customs, standards and paces of life. Accept them without complaint and your trip abroad will be much more enjoyable. Remember, you wanted to experience something new. Which is why you embarked on an adventure in the first place!

Quiet down
Now I don’t think Americans are particularly louder than other cultures, but they certainly do talk a lot more. After spending several months in Europe, I noticed that American tourists tend to talk incessantly while sightseeing, on the train, standing in line, shopping – no matter the situation, they love to talk amongst themselves and to strangers. This is probably where the “loud American” stereotype originates. So the next time you’re talking while sightseeing, consider pausing for some quiet reflection. Constant chatter can be distracting to other tourists.

Wear appropriate clothing
This tip applies mostly to tourists planning to visit more conservative countries. Prior to my first trip to Istanbul, Turkey, I took care to research appropriate attire for my visit. Which led me to leave my tiny shorts, cropped tops and sexy sundresses at home. Although Istanbul is a modern European city, the country is predominantly muslim, which means modesty is appreciated. By dressing more conservatively, I avoided unwanted attention and was able to visit religious sites without having to borrow coverups.

Remember you’re a guest
As a guest in someone else’s country it’s important to make a good impression. Remember, you’re representing your home country abroad, so be polite, patient and mindful of your actions.

What are some of your tourist pet peeves?



P.S. I can’t wait to share my Istanbul city guide with you! Stay tuned…

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