OR MANNERS MAKETH MAN.
Alert: This was started when I got back from Mexico end of last year. This was when the world was sane and just, and these points I made about decent behaviour while travelling over the world, looked practical and fair. Sadly now they look antiquated and weird. Hopefully one day they will be looked at with fondness as this old bird strikes out about manners and etiquette expected and taught when I was young. Anyhoo, please add any thoughts you have of anything I might have forgotten and I will add to this post. x
I have been waiting to write this post for ages. It’s so important and for some reason neglected. I was really going to have it for a footnote on the Russian part of my journey but now I see it has to be more expansive.
Tourists quite often have bad reputations crashing and bashing their ways around other peoples countries, often showing no courtesy and care. It’s as if they have forgotten their manners and respect for other people in the countries they are visiting. This also applies to how fellow travellers treat one another. If you behave well and are jolly and polite there is no reason other people shouldn’t react in kind.
Do as you would be done by.
Be polite and show respect, it’s a basic requirement of life in general but especially when you are on someone else’s turf. Nice manners cost nothing and will make your hosts warm to you. Be elegant and wonderful when you travel.
Smile, smile, smile.
Some nationalities have reputations that precede them and have to work hard to get the host nationals to like them. I found this in Russia along the Trans Siberian route both in the cities and on the train itself. However they hadn’t expected my smile. I can smile at a disdainful face until they crack and smile back almost bewildered at what just happened. This technique has been a huge asset throughout my travels. From the frosty ladies who looked after my train compartments to the grim people at the cloakrooms of galleries and museums. Not one beat me in my smile offensive and although they might have thought me a little crazy I like to feel I’m flying the flag for Britain. After you ‘break’ them they laugh and join you in your silly acting in place of knowing the language, just bound by humanity and language barriers having been broken.
Check out what things are acceptable in the country you are visiting. As a rule of thumb don’t go around town wearing next to nothing. It’s only sensible to reason that it will be frowned upon and you should carry something to cover your head and shoulders in some places too. You will insult them as well as make yourself unpopular and be a fool. Being LOUD is super aggravating in any environment but in some places it is upsetting for the locals who adhere to, for example, being silent and meditating and praying in places of worship. Look up the norms of a country before you visit, this includes tipping. Ironically over-tipping can be as bad as under-tipping in some countries. Don’t carry on conversations on your phone on the street, public transport or restaurants it’s bad form in any country, nobody wants to hear about your life unless it’s in an actual human face to face interaction.
Fellow Travellers Behaviour.
I’m sure everyone has a tale to tell about some moron(s) ruining travelling for other people. Whether it be a group on a bus basically bullying the rest of the passengers by being noisy or nasty, or a drunken twat on a plane being obnoxious and spoiling a flight for everyone else. It can be noise at a hotel or pushing in front of a monument for an eternal selfie (selfies are aptly named for selfish pricks) Again it’s just common sense to be respectful.
For us old birds we were taught manners and it comes naturally or it should do. Sadly self entitled noughties (blah blah blah moan moan moan) are a different matter. I once had a girl walking backwards taking the vile selfie-on-the-move walk over my towel and tread on my hand so self absorbed in her own world of how fabulous she was. She barely seemed to care as she muttered an insincere ‘sorry’ before walking back over it again continuing her quest for that perfect pout to post on social media.
Pushing and shoving to get in front at a monument is rude and dangerous. I heard a horror story of a woman pushed over the edge of a terrace in Machu Picchu and broke most of the bones in her body. This was due to being shoved from behind by someone complete arsehole who wanted to have a photo taken at one of the many famous vistas there.
We all love a drink on our hols but this can be the number one reason that manners can fly out the window. In a lot of countries alcohol is barely tolerated let alone the terrible behaviour that can ensue after over-imbibing the nectar of the gods.
Be intelligent about your drinking, it’s not cool to be out and pissed let alone putting yourself in danger by being robbed, if you’re in a state, or worse assaulted. Have a drink at your hotel if it’s in the evening and only after you have finished your sightseeing and or trek. A cold beer in the day, when you’re done and ready to go back for your siesta at the hotel, is more than fine and dandy though!