How to be a good tourist


Possibly the worst tourist of all time was Alexander the Great – almost every place he visited he ended up conquering and taking over, which in many cultures is considered bad manners.

But we’ve all done it in one way or another. We’ve all travelled somewhere new and inadvertently done the wrong thing, or said the wrong thing, or maybe one time you actually did accidentally conquer an entire country?

Let’s just all agree to try and be better from now on. To learn how to be a good tourist you should know that The Hangover should not be used as a reference for anything. Here are some other Dos and Don’t’s you should follow.

When on holiday, The Hangover should not be used as a reference for anything


Airports are stressful places full of people rushing around trying to catch planes, collect luggage and buy scotch duty free. Patience is key.

DO: stay clam no matter what, even when the old lady in front of you has spent the past 10 minutes trying to unbutton her jacket.
DON’T: dance through the metal detector doing Gangnam Style.


Unless you’re 12 years old and therefore inexplicably excited at the sight of a plane, everyone hates flying. Airplanes are cramped, smelly and annoying. Yes, the lady in front reclines her seat all the way. Yes, you have to get up for the guy who needs to pee. Yes, the overhead luggage is full before you arrive. This is what flying is like for everyone, and if your flight isn’t like this then congratulations on your life: you’re flying first-class!

DO: enjoy the inflight service.
DON’T: get wasted and carry on like Lindsay Lohan.

Hire cars

Ingnore the fact that the hire care probably has snot on the steering wheel, something gross on the seat and the remains of a dead hooker in the boot, and let the fun begin! Once you reach your destination, a hire car gives you the freedom to head off and get hopelessly lost anytime you feel like it.

DO: pay the extra to reduce your liability for any damage. In some countries, road rules are more like road suggestions.
DON’T: wedge the hire car in the narrow gap between two concrete pillars in a cramped underground car park. (Personally, I struggle with this one.)


For when you visit those couple of places in the world where no one speaks American, or as it’s known in England, “the Queen’s American”.

DO: learn a few words of the local language, even if it’s just, “Sorry, I don’t speak such-and-such language.”
DON’T: presume this means cab drivers won’t still rip you off.


One day you’ll look back at all the wonderful photos you took on your holiday and think to yourself, “Wow, was that really my haircut!?”

DO: carry a camera everywhere and take lots of beautiful photos.
DON’T: peek through people’s front windows to get them.


tourist memeMaybe you laugh at people who need somewhere to sleep at night because you prefer to rough it, out under the stars or in a cave somewhere. If that’s you, you can skip this bit.

DO: treat yourself to some snacks from the minibar.
DON’T: get wasted and recreate scenes from The Hangover.

And if you’re staying in a picturesque nature lodge somewhere out in remote wilderness

DO: fill out the feedback form at the end of your stay telling them how beautiful it was.
DON’T: just write “Need’s more televisions!” (Even if it’s true.)


Good manners transcend language… except for “please” and “thank you,” of course. Obviously they very much rely on language. “Hello” also. Actually, forget what I said about language. Don’t get annoyed because not everybody speaks English.

DO: keep complaints to yourself.
DON’T: loudly tell everyone you wish you were anywhere but here. Trust me, everyone else wishes you were anywhere but here, too.

Boys trips

Notice how it’s called a “Boys” trip. It’s appropriate because this is a chance for males to revert to their pre-pubescent selves and laugh at all the things they found funny when they were 12. Meanwhile “Men” are working on oil tankers, building timber furniture and going to war. But no, you enjoy your boys trip.

DO: joke loudly about bodily functions.
DON’T: expect everyone else in the restaurant to find it funny.


Your last act as a tourist: handing out the presents you brought back for friends and family – the real reason they’re so happy to see you again.

DO: bring back awesome gifts from where you’ve been that you can’t find anywhere else.
DON’T: expect anyone to be impressed by a commemorative spoon or novelty t-shirt. Oh, and those shirts that say “My friend went to (insert destination) and all I got was this crappy t-shirt” are not, nor were they ever, funny!


Tim lives in Adelaide, South Australia. He likes to write.

Tim is a contributor on