As a Tour Manager and Guide for both inbound and outbound tours, I have heard many travelers lament, “That’s not how we do it.” “We” being themselves and their immediate neighbors. Sometimes their “we” generalization includes their entire country. Please know this is not exclusive to the American tourist. Through my travels I have met many an “ugly American” but also an “ugly German” an “ugly Israeli” and an “ugly Brit.”
While leading tours overseas I have had Americans ask countless time, “Why don’t they speak English here?” I have also had an American refuse to stand in a line because he didn’t want to get in line with “a bunch of foreigners.” Note to those traveling overseas; when you are in another country, you are the foreigner.
Not to be outdone, while leading tours for citizens of other countries I have encountered very similar remarks. While eating an entire bag of potato chips with a candy bar standing by, I had a German passenger comment, “Americans are so fat.” I had a British girl complain that she could see through the space between the door and the supporting structure of a stall in a public restroom. This was immediately after she told me that Americans are so uptight. And my favorite? The Israeli who, upon seeing the Grand Canyon for the first time commented, “We have better canyons in Israel. And it’s a smaller country so you don’t have to drive as far to get there.”
Please know, I only use the term “ugly” as a well known cliché. I prefer to think of these folks as uninformed at the best, and closed minded at worst. So, in an effort to open everyone’s minds to the joys of travel, I give you the Travelers Ten Commandments.
Travelers Ten Commandments
1. Thou shalt not expect to find things as thou hast left them at home, for thou hast left thy home to find things different.
2. Thou shalt not take anything too seriously, for a carefree mind is the beginning of a vacation.
3. Thou shalt not let the other tourist get on thy nerves, for thou art paying good money to have a good time.
4. Remember thy passport so that thou knowest where it is at all times, for a man without a passport is a man without a country.
5. Blessed is the person who can say “thank you” in any language, for it shall be worth more to him than any tips.
6. Blessed is the person who can make change in any language, for lo, he shall not be cheated.
7. Thou shalt not worry, he that worrieth hath no pleasure,
8. Thou shalt not judge the people of a country by one person with whom thou hast trouble.
9. Thou shalt, when in Rome, do somewhat as the Romans do; if in difficulty, thou shalt use thy good common sense and friendliness.
10. Remember thou art a guest in every land, and he that treateth his host with respect shall be treated as an honored guest.