If you have seen the crowds around the key sights in Venice, Paris, or Barcelona during the high season, you may understand why a certain degree of resistance against mass tourism is developing in some specific European cities. Not only do the residents feel that their neighborhoods have been conquered by visitors, but these uninvited visitors also behave badly. Here are a few simple tips for getting along with locals in popular tourist destinations.
Treehugger has published an article with six tips for travelers who don’t want to be hated by locals:
– Stay as long as possible in your destination, and get to know your neighborhood and local neighbors.
– Favor local businesses when choosing accommodations. International hotel chains provide high-quality services, but staying in a small local place brings you closer to local life.
– Find destinations that are not discovered by mass tourism.
– Don’t point your camera to everyone and everything.
– Learn a few expressions in local language. This is a sure winner.
– Rethink what is important: why you want to travel? Is getting as far as possible really important, or is it just that you want to wind down, or spend some time in the great outdoors?
The third advice (“get off the beaten track”) from Treehugger is a difficult one, because I believe you have to be an experienced traveler in order to successfully venture into destinations where few tourists go. Yes, local people may be curious and friendly towards foreigners in these places, but the infrastructure for travelers may be poor and communication very difficult (assuming you can’t speak the language). So, earlier experience from different cultures, food, customs, and languages are a great advantage in destinations that don’t get a lot of tourist traffic.
Choosing the season is a tip that I learned on trips that I have made during the winter to countries where the high season is the summer. Visiting a popular destination during the low season is like another world. My good experiences are from southern European countries where locals are relaxed and friendly when they can live in their cities they are used to. It is easy to chat with locals – and they often initiate a friendly interaction – when you visit the popular places like a normal person (not looking or acting like a stereotype of a tourist) during the low season.