A cliché is generally defined as something that has been overused and that betrays a lack of original thought. Most cliché travel destinations fall under that category because they are quite simply worth it. Think of the most common travel and tourist clichés that you know:
- Heading out to the beach.
- Going to Jamaica.
- Going camping.
- Flying down to the Maasai Mara.
These are typical tourist activities and destinations that people do and frequent each year. They do that because these things and these places are fun and offer them value for money.
However, just because you are going to visit a cliché tourist destination doesn’t mean that you have to behave like a “cliché tourist”.
How to Avoid Being a Cliché Tourist
While there are very many ways to avoid being a cliché tourist, the most outstanding way is to completely deviate from the meaning of the word itself. In short, try to avoid most, if not all, the common tourist attractions and activities that everyone including your neighbour and their dog will be doing when they visit that particular destination.
In short, find ways to create your own experiences as opposed to moving with the crowd. Be original and avoid the overused path!
- Learn to be like the locals.
- Learn the common phrases used by the locals when they communicate.
- Find a local friend or guide and ask them to take you to places only the locals known and enjoy.
- Leave your backpack at the hotel and just mingle with the people.
- Dress like the locals.
8 Common Tourist Cliché to Avoid
In an effort to be as original as possible the next time you fly out to your favourite destination, here are some common clichés that make you stand out as a tourist and how to avoid them:
1. Try Not to Wear Your “I Love (Insert Current Destination Name Here)” T-Shirt Everyday
There are very few things that are a dead giveaway like wearing your “I Love Kenya”, “I Love South Africa” or “I Love Africa” t-shirt everywhere you go. That is the embodiment of the cliché tourist.
There are less betraying ornaments you can put on if you must wear some kind of souvenir. You could go for a wrist band with the destinations flag on it or you could simply buy a souvenir that you keep concealed in your travel back until you get back home and then display it on your mantle proudly.
2. Avoid Asking Strangers to Take Pictures of You
While it’s absolutely understandable that you will want photographic evidence and memories of the destination you visited, asking strangers on the street to take pictures of your using your iPhone or your DSLR camera is a bad idea and probably one of the most unsafe tourist clichés. For two main reasons:
- People often don’t like being interrupted.
- You could very well be handing your phone or camera over to a thief.
Not everyone you meet on the street is a good person and since you are new there it’s often best to practice just a bit of friendly caution when interacting with strangers. Be nice and warm but slightly guarded.
3. Speaking YOUR Language Slowly Doesn’t Mean that the Locals Will Understand You
Almost everyone is guilty of doing this at one time or another. Just because you speak English and it’s the official international language for most nations of the world doesn’t give you the right to expect everyone you meet to understand it. When you meet someone who doesn’t understand or speak English, simply saying the words slowly will not change the fact that they can’t understand you.
Before you head out to a foreign land, try to learn a few key phrases in the local dialect. You know, words that can help you communicate the most basic of needs such as saying hello or asking for directions.
4. Stop Judging People by Their Passports
Only associating with your own kind will limit the scope of your travel experience. Everyone has something to bring to the table. Everyone has different experiences and interesting stories to share. Try to be as open and friendly towards all your fellow travellers no matter the strength of their passport.
5. You Have to Save for Decades to Travel the World
You DO NOT have to save for decades to travel the world. This is a misconception that has become a cliché excuse for most people who want to travel but do not. You don’t need to quit your job either. Travelling is a matter of determination and desire. If you want to go somewhere and are determined to do so, you can without necessarily having to be a millionaire. There are very many ways to travel and experience the world in a much more affordable manner. You could even start today.
6. Yoga + Developing Countries Does Not = “Finding Yourself”
Thanks to movies such as “Eat, Pray, Love”, most people now believe that “finding themselves” involves travelling to a developing country, doing a bit of Yoga and maybe even joining a religion other than Christianity. While it’s absolutely illuminating and thrilling to do things that you wouldn’t typically do in places that you would typically go, finding yourself entails a lot more than just putting on your Yoga pants and eating with your hands.
You could find yourself in your own home. It’s all about introspection and discovering what really drives you. You don’t need to visit Thailand to do so.
7. Don’t Run with The Usual Tourist Crowds
There is safety in numbers. However, these very numbers can also lead to the mundane. When you walk around with the usual crowd of tourists, there is a good chance that you will only end up seeing the same old places, eating at the same old restaurants and shopping at the same old souvenir shops. This is true even when you have a local guide. Your guide will assume that it’s what you “tourists” like.
Try going out alone. Walk around the city by yourself and open yourself up to the full experience. As long as you have your phone with you and the number of a trusted taxi driver who can pick you up should you get lost, you will be just fine and all the better for it.
8. Try Not to Smile at Every Stranger
It’s okay to be friendly, warm and approachable. Smile…but only a little. Smiling at everyone you meet will freak them out. Just be a normal human being. Be yourself.
Do you know of any tourist clichés that should be avoided? Share them with us in the comment section below.