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Trash-talk, photo shoots and bargaining: The most annoying things tourists do, according to locals

One of the top ways to annoy locals is blocking the sidewalk while taking a picture.
One of the top ways to annoy locals is blocking the sidewalk while taking a picture. Copyright Canva
Copyright Canva
By Angela Symons
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These are the biggest no-nos for tourists looking to blend in with the locals.

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With anti-tourism protests heating up in popular destinations across Europe, many visitors are increasingly at pains to fly under the radar. 

But short of ditching your safari hat and sock-sandal combo, how can you blend in with the locals?

There are tonnes of tourist no-nos that could rub residents and fellow travellers up the wrong way. Here are some of the gravest offences, according to users of Reddit’s r/travel forum.

Don’t use destinations as your modelling backdrop

From Japan’s Mount Fuji Lawson to a lake in Austria which inspired the ‘Frozen’ movie, picturesque tourist hotspots have gone to great lengths to curb the crowds that come to take photos - even erecting screens to block the view.

When it’s a free for all, though, there’s little to stop the wannabe-influencers taking over.

Answering the call for the “Biggest tourist no-no's [sic] you've encountered while travelling”, one Reddit user says: “People who get to a scenic viewpoint or landmark… then proceed to do a full on model shoot with dozens of poses and retakes for Instagram. Most of the time I don't even want a selfie, just the viewpoint without a teenage girl in it.”

Another respondent also scolds travellers for “taking cheerful selfies in inappropriate places (saw this happening in Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park for instance)”.

Similarly, respect should be shown for locals and religion, including by not “posing and imitating Buddha in temples in Thailand - so offensive and tacky” - and not taking pictures of locals without permission.

Also, Reddit says, consider your clothing choices in conservative countries.

“I cringe when I see ‘influencers’ posing in front of the pyramids wearing a tiny crop top and shorts. Have a bit of respect for the local customs and culture,” says another user.

Don’t assume people can’t speak your language

It can be tempting to slip into your mother tongue to make ‘private’ comments when travelling - but do so with caution.

“If you're a tourist, don't trash-talk about other people (tourists and locals alike) thinking that no one can understand your language,” advises one Reddit user.

Proving their point, another traveller received a less-than-polite response when confronting a woman committing offence #1 at Rome’s Trevi Fountain.

“I give her the stare down and tell her she had spent a couple minutes taking several pictures, she had to be mindful of other tourists,” they write. “She storms off and lets out ‘Putos Americanos’ (f**king Americans in Spanish) to which I reply ‘Puta tu madre y toda tu descendencia’, I am Colombian-American.” 

In a similar vein, avoid “loudly pondering why something is done in a particular way merely because it is done differently where the tourist is from”. 

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Try not to take up the entire pavement if you're walking in a group.
Try not to take up the entire pavement if you're walking in a group.Canva

Don’t clog up the pavement

Residents of big cities also decry tourists “walking very slowly while taking up the entire sidewalk, making locals who actually have to get somewhere walk into oncoming traffic just to get by.”

The same applies to visitors stopping in the middle of the path to check a map or guide or to take photos

You should also be mindful of local rules and customs when walking. For example, in some cities like Amsterdam and Berlin, tourists straying onto cycle paths is a daily annoyance. In rule-abiding Germany, jay-walking is a serious no-no - even on an empty street - one Reddit user warns.

Don’t bargain too hard

While it’s common and acceptable to haggle in many countries, visitors should be mindful when doing so.

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“I always find it deeply repulsive to see a tourist from the first world trying to absolutely bargain down a poor seller in the third world,” says one Reddit user. “By all means bargain, and try to pay a fair-ish price. But don't worry about a trivial sum of money.”

“I'm not going to spend any time trying to save a dollar or two in a country where the average monthly wage is less than what I make in a day,” agrees another user.

Don’t venture out unprepared

Recent deaths of hikers during Greece’s heatwave laid bare the tragic consequences of underestimating the weather. Outside of Europe, this is a far more common occurrence.

“Europeans: please stop wandering into our deserts and dying from severe lack of preparation and research,” pleads one Reddit user from the United States. 

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“It’s a massive bummer, because we love that you’re fascinated by the American Southwest and we want you to have a safe time. The information is readily available, so please educate yourselves before coming here.”

Similarly, an Australian warns visitors to “please stop wandering into our deserts and dying of thirst and please stop putting yourselves into the mouths of crocodiles. Those prehistoric monsters don't mess around.”

Treating dangerous animals with respect is a common theme, with another respondent criticising “people in National Parks treating animals like they're theme park attractions. It's wild seeing how many people get out of their cars to take pictures of bears.”

Respecting nature goes beyond your own safety, one Reddit user reminds us: “If you’re in Hawaii (or really anywhere with coral reefs for that matter) for the love of god, don’t touch the coral! (Also seek out reef safe sunscreen if possible).”

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