5 Top Things a Backpacker should Say to a Tourist

Khmer monks at the grounds of the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Many are filling the earth with their footprints, wherever it may be. Inspirations also are mounting from seeing how people, from all walks of life and from distant places have gone out of their homes, carry their backpacks and travel on the road to their dream destinations. As a backpacker, I was thinking if I can share my own tips to those who also backpack and to tourists who took a respite from their busy lives and leave footprints worthy of inspiring stories.

Here is a quick rundown of my travel tips to tourists who travels the road I happened to travel.

Travel light with a day-pack good for 4 days. This is in Bukidnon, Philippines.

  1. Travel light

As I have seen among many tourists who travel, they have the tendency to pack almost to utter exaggeration. If your travels will mean 7 days off the house, bring in enough to keep you fashionably on the go, sans the unnecessary clutter. Remember, the more painful in travelling is to carry kilos of cloths you end up not wearing anyway. Depending on your clothing needs and lifestyle, just wear on the minimum for a trip. No paparazzi will be out there to take your every outfit while on the road, in fact, nobody really cares what you are wearing when you travels.

“Get lost on the road and you will find humanity!” – Dr. Wends (Hong Kong)

2. Get lost in the streets, the crowd knows where it leads

The most time-consuming pitfall of tourists when they do sightseeing is by constantly referring to the map at hand. I say, leave the map and get lost in the streets. Every stranger, local or tourists like you, whom you meet on the road knows the places and directions better than your own interpretation of the map. When on foreign destinations, maps complicate the more when it is written with local codes and street names. Better off, walk cautiously and wear the best smile. If you are lost, then you are learning the best in your travel: being able to find your way through the courtesy of strangers and the kindness of the locals. Who knows, your jaunt ends up with a cup of espresso somewhere in a historic cafe no one even noticed since it’s not on the map!

Hong Kong’s great vista from Victoria Peak.

3. Take more “photos of” and not “photos with”

Tourists are tourists when you see them on the destinations of the world for one thing and one thing only: They are the ones who love to take their own photographs in virtually every angle there is. Learn the ‘art of when to take your photos with the scene’ when you do sightseeing and the ‘art of taking photography to a higher level’ when you took photos of the scene and the destinations. The difference is just your presence. When you took a photo of a local reading in the stairs somewhere near a palatial mansion, you will remember your time well spent. A good option for this: you can sell it. Caveat: No travel magazine or even Lonely Planet will ever buy a photo of you. Travel photography is very different from your version of Facebook photography.

Buy it in Siem Reap Night Market, Cambodia

4. Buy, buy, and buy more

When you are out in your favourite destination, avoid the malls unless you live the dolce vita life. Go to where authentic products are sold, it benefits the community. When you are in the outskirts of any country and wanting to have a small something for friends and families, they will appreciate it more when you buy them something genuinely local and artsy than a cheap tshirt. Our travels will always be replete with great cheers when we see a small sourvenir we can also put on display in the house, it opens up to your travel experiences too. In afterthought though, I have yet to see someone wearing I LOVE (destination) and is willing to share the insights he gain from his travels. Most often, those who wears it haven’t even traveled.

No matter how you hated it, just blend in! Pagadian City

5. Blend in

Most tourists I know, even to some extent, backpackers too do not want to blend in when they travel but rather, wanted to stand out. Standing out literally and figuratively while on the road is potentially disastrous. You will just open yourself to vacation nightmares, from petty theft to worse kidnapping-for-ransom. As much as you can, while on the road, leave your riches and worries behind. Blend in! The perks of blending in is your chances to live the true, authentic culture plus, locals will just very well shower you with stories of local histories to write on your journal. Blending in also will allow you to understand how people live daily, outside your own definition of how living is. It is indeed rewarding.

Categories: Backpacker's Tip | Tags: , , , | 16 Comments

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16 thoughts on “5 Top Things a Backpacker should Say to a Tourist

  1. Cool tips Doc Wends! I just have a bit of a problem with #1. I only bring enough clothes, but I could not leave my camera backpack…hehe

  2. Great tips! Thanks for sharing:)

  3. I have to agree with this
    “Travel photography is very different from your version of Facebook photography.”


  4. nice tips doc!

  5. my thoughts exactly but i can never write it the way Doc Wends can πŸ™‚ cheers!

  6. Albin

    nice po…
    “Get lost in the streets, the crowd knows where it leads”

  7. Blend in, We do it often, πŸ™‚ kaya nagpakakamalan kaming local minsan if we didn’t speak.

  8. Nice tips. I have to admit, I am guilty of taking photos with but I’m trying …. LOL…

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