There’s plenty of destination specific advice out there. But I want to offer you some advice on how to be a good traveler, no matter where you go.
How to Be a Good Traveler
Whether you’re flying halfway across the globe or taking a weekend trip, let these rules guide you on how to be the best traveler you can be.
Be Nice (to Everyone)
Whether you’re in a rush, plagued by delays, or just having a bad day, it can be tempting to take out your stress on the nearest person. You might feel justified in screaming at a gate agent when you get bumped off a plane, but try to remember that they are actually a person too, not just a soulless representation of a corporation. Try your best to be nice to everyone you encounter, from the waiter to the bellhop.
Leave the Animals Alone
Animals are a great part of travel, but please observe them without disturbing them, especially if you’re visiting them in their natural habitat. (This means, don’t annoy the wildlife just to get the perfect selfie.) This rule applies even at the zoo: don’t bang on glass or dangle things into animals’ cages for your own entertainment.
Pack Your Patience
The people in front of you are walking slowly, the airport security line is long and full of slow movers, or you’re stuck in traffic. Take a breath. Try to remember that you’re lucky enough to get to travel, and that you’ll hopefully get wherever you’re going (or whatever you need accomplished) eventually. Angry sighs, pushing, or yelling won’t help things.
Know what’s appropriate to wear where you’re going, whether that means dressing more modestly than you normally would, or upping your outfit game from your usual workout wear. Tailoring your wardrobe to suit the destination shows respect.
One of the best parts of travel is getting to meet people who are different from you. Don’t leap to judgement when you get the chance to interact with people who have different values, viewpoints, or a way of life than you. Think of this as a learning experience rather than a chance to debate.
Know the Etiquette
Is it expected or offensive to leave a tip? How should you behave in certain social situations? Do some quick research on etiquette related questions before you depart on your trip. You’ll feel more comfortable, and so will everyone else around you.
Don’t Make People an Unwitting Attraction
Photos of “interesting” looking locals are abundant on social media. Blogs dedicated entirely to snapshots shaming passengers or “the people of Walmart” are everywhere. But you wouldn’t want a secretive photo of you taken unknowingly to be plastered on the internet, would you? Be polite and ask people for their permission before you take a photo of them.
Learn Basic Phrases
If you’re traveling somewhere where you don’t speak the language, learn a few basic phrases (such as “hello” and “thank you”) in the local tongue. This is much more polite than going up to someone and starting a conversation in a language that they may or may not speak.
More from SmarterTravel:
- 5 Companies That Will Help You Be a Better Traveler
- What Not to Do While Traveling with Friends
- What Not to Do in New York City
Editor’s note: This story was originally published in 2016. It has been updated to reflect the most current information.