Travel Rant: On the Importance of Gratitude



I’m currently settled into the lovely city of Vientiane, Laos for the Christmas holidays. I love it here – everything from the colonial architecture, the garishly colored temples, the wonderful food and the lovely, friendly Laos people. It has been a bit of an adjustment coming from Japan where you rarely see a foreigner and people move very quickly to this place that is absolutely brimming with Western tourists and where everyone takes their time. Many of the tuk tuk drivers have hammocks installed in the back of their vehicles and in the hot afternoon sun, can be seen napping away the afternoon.

After the 25th we’ll be heading out to more rural areas of the country, in an attempt to get away from the huge number of tourists. It’s not that I don’t like running into other travelers or hearing a familiar language, but because it’s so cheap, Vientiane is also packed with the kind of people who are here only because it allows them to live on less that $20 a day, and it’s warm. If I hear one more nineteen year old backpacker try to argue down the cost of her $.80 beer, I’m going to scream. There are also lots of really good people traveling here, people who may not have a lot of money but who still strike a balance between being frugal and being respectful. But then there are the others …

A few nights ago we were sitting outside at a beautiful beer and food garden enjoying some cold BeerLaos. It seemed to be a family operation – a young boy and his mother serving people, an older man working the kitchen. They were friendly and welcoming and their menu was plentiful and cheap. We were chatting with a nice man from Germany who was telling us about his plans to go to Thailand for New Years. In walked three German girls.

Some people carry an energy with them that is immediately negative. They couldn’t have been much older than 20, pretty girls but with very sour expressions on their faces. After looking over the menu they called over the young server and in English ordered their beer and dinner – plates of rice and pasta.

“Is it going to be good? Is there a lot? We’re hungry you know!” The boy didn’t speak a lot of English and just smiled and nodded his head. They didn’t say please, they didn’t say thank you, they just did all that they could do to set the scene for their inevitable disappointment. Sure enough, when the first order arrived (fried rice) the girls started speaking and gesturing frantically to one another in German and then called the boy over. Pointing at her plate, “is this all?! This isn’t enough food. This is not a normal portion. I want more!”

I could see her plate and it was a very respectable portion of rice with vegetables, prawns and chicken. It looked hot, fresh and well prepared. And it cost less than $1.50.

The boy, looking a bit distressed now, went to take her plate back to the kitchen. Instead of thanking him, one of the girls said, “Hurry up! We’re hungry! This better not take much longer!”

Within about five minutes the boy brought back the rice – now a larger portion – and two orders of pasta, one for each of the two remaining girls. As soon as the plates were put down, one of the girls who had ordered pasta began, “This isn’t enough. I’m so hungry! I need more food. This isn’t a normal portion! Look I’ve only got three prawns in my pasta!”

At this point, the entire beer garden is looking at them like, “are you seriously complaining to a Laos boy about not having enough food you ungrateful, privileged ass?” One of the German guys sitting at a nearby table actually tried to interject and argue with the girls, but they ignored him saying, “Mind your own business, this has nothing to do with you.”

Eventually the poor waiter, scurried away (again – hurry up! we’re hungry!) and brought back portions of pasta that would make the Pillsbury Doughboy feel overwhelmed.

When the time came for the bill, I knew that they would find a problem with it. Sure enough, the man in the kitchen had added an extra 30,000 kip to their bill (about $3) because he’d given them all double portions. The boy had understood that they weren’t happy and wanted more and the kitchen made more, but it didn’t make any sense to these restaurant owners to give away more food for free – they thought that obviously the girls expected to pay extra for their enormous plates of food.

So the girls argued, they whined and the restaurant owner relented and discounted the 30,000 kip from their bill, which was well under $10 for all three of them to have beer and food. They paid, sulkily, and they left without saying thank you. And I couldn’t help but feel embarrassed to be in any way grouped in with this kind of person. I wanted to immediately reassure the staff that they’d done nothing wrong and to not think all tourists act that way. I also wished that they’d called the police or just kicked the girls out. The fact that they got away with their behavior makes me pretty sure that they’ll do it again.

There is definitely an appropriate time and place for haggling, but it is important to know when that is. In Laos, you can argue down the price of an unmetered cab or tuk tuk and you can do the same at market stalls. If you go into a restaurant with a printed menu – their prices clearly listed – you are choosing to accept their terms of sale. It is completely unethical to go in and then try to get more food without paying for it.

This is an extreme example of behavior I’ve seen over and over again here. The other night it was a table of young Australian guys complaining that the cold beer wasn’t cold enough and asking to be taken to the fridge so they could touch the beer bottle to ensure it met their standards. Seriously?! If this is your biggest problem, you don’t have problems.

It is an absolute privilege to travel and to be welcomed into these countries. Even in Vientiane, which is a fairly large and modern city, you can live very well for less than $10 a day – our money goes a long way over here and the people deserve more than to be treated like servants as we suck their resources dry.

Gratitude Reminders for Travelers

  1. Say please and thank you, preferably in the local language.
  2. Learn some basic words in the local language. At minimum hello, thank you and please.
  3. Understand when it is and isn’t appropriate to haggle. Read up on the place you are visiting, ask people who’ve been there, talk to other travelers. Sometimes bartering is a core part of the transaction and it is important to do it, even if it feels awkward. But sometimes it’s completely out of line. Learn the difference.
  4. Don’t ever tell someone in an impoverished country that you – a privileged Western traveler – are hungry and expect a hand out. If you can’t afford to pay for your food, beer or accommodations, then you can’t afford to travel and you should go home.
  5. Make sure you understand the terms of a transaction up front – this will protect both you and the provider of the service. Once you’ve agreed to something, consider it a contract and don’t try to get more off the price later on.
  6. Tip where appropriate. In larger cities like Vientiane, tipping is generally expected in service oriented restaurants although it’s still very much discretionary. If you’ve had a nice meal and good service, consider rewarding your waiter/waitress with a tip. If you can afford to drink beer and eat restaurant food, you can probably afford a small tip.
  7. Understand that you are visiting a foreign country because you want a different experience. If you go into a pizza place in Laos expecting it to be exactly like what you’re used to back home, you’ll probably be disappointed. Be realistic, be gracious and try local foods. Laos food is absolutely delicious and is extremely affordable. The Internet is another variable factor – please understand that it’s unlikely to be as fast in Laos as it might be in New York and that complaining about it won’t get you much more than a confused smile.
  8. When language is a barrier, smile at people. Show them that you’re a nice person and that you’re going to try and make the best of the situation.
  9. Give something back. Many countries have local charitable organizations that are happy to have Westerners come in for an afternoon to help out. If you can give your time, or a small amount of money to support those who might be struggling locally, then do it.
  10. Don’t be a knob. This means: don’t get drunk and throw up on the street or in a bar;  respect the curfews of your guesthouse or hotel; don’t yell, scream, laugh or sing loudly after midnight in areas where people are trying to sleep; and put your rubbish in the bin (even when locals don’t).

But most of all, take a minute to appreciate where you are and the immense position of privilege you hold in that you are able to explore this amazing world. Let that manifest in gratitude for every glorious, strange moment.

Image: Source unknown but found on Samimi-Extremie


61 Responses

  1. inka

    December 18, 2010 7:52 am

    Amy, I seem to be the first to comment and it’s a privilege. Thanks very much for this absolutely overdue post. Some one had to speak out and remind guest in foreign countries to show respect and gratitude. I’ll spread this article everywhere!!!
    inka recently posted..Didyma- an oracle close to homeMy ComLuv Profile

    • Greg

      January 5, 2011 8:45 pm

      I absolutely agree Amy. Your rant is right on the money. And I am pleased to see that this advice comes from a fellow Canadian. Personally, I always try to use good manners and connect with locals … on their own terms. When you do, you find that this is one of the joys of travelling. Thank you for sharing.

  2. turkey's for life

    December 18, 2010 8:02 am

    I’m glad you’ve done this post. It’d be good if some of the people who behave in this way actually read it – especially the poster at the top! We see this behaviour every summer in Turkey and it’s really embarrassing. Like you said, you can only hope the local people don’t assume all foreign visitors are the same. There are lots of situations in Turkey where you haggle but there are others where you just don’t – many visitors seem to think it’s a free for all.
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    • A Tramp Abroad

      December 18, 2010 8:22 am

      That’s the real challenge – getting the right people to read it. Maybe I’ll print of the list of 10 things and carry copies around to hand out to the ones who need it. I’m sure that would make me very popular here. :)

  3. jamie

    December 18, 2010 8:04 am

    great post. come across a few of these in my time. one guy who wouldnt stop complaining that he had no power outlet in his dorm room to charge his electric toothbrush and he couldnt understand where his 5 dollars had gone. another girl who would barter the equivalent of 10 cents for food. are you serious?
    i think you summed it up with number 10: dont be a knob.
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  4. ruth kozak

    December 18, 2010 8:11 am

    Some excellent advice here. There are far too many people who misbehave and are rude when in foreign countries expecting things to be like ‘at home’. You have to wonder what their manners are like ‘at home’ too!

    • A Tramp Abroad

      December 18, 2010 8:24 am

      Thanks Ruth and I absolutely agree. I can only hope that someone, somewhere puts these people in their place. Believing in karma makes me feel a little better…

  5. Andrea

    December 18, 2010 8:58 am

    Oh, Amy, how awful! I would have felt so angry at those girls if I was sitting there. What is wrong with people? This is an excellent post and I hope your tips circulate to those who need to read them. Sadly, people like that don’t often look for ways to improve themselves. I’m taking a quick break from practicing basic Spanish at the moment…I would be horrified to go into a country and not be able to at least say, “Hello, how are you?” in the local language and please and thank you and how to ask if they speak my language in their language. Most people are so helpful and accommodating to visitors, more welcoming than most English-speaking countries are to their guests…how can you treat a local like that when you’re travelling? Makes me so angry!
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  6. Cate

    December 18, 2010 12:05 pm

    Excellent post this needed to be said and I agree with you on all points, I hope people get the message.

    I’ve witnessed behaviour very similar and it always makes me feel ashamed to be a tourist, just because you’re on holiday doesn’t mean you should forget basic human manners and courtesy and if that’s how you behave normally well you should be ashamed!
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  7. Jade

    December 18, 2010 2:08 pm

    You would think someone traveling overseas these days would be knowledgable enough to research some of the local customs and traditions. We made sure to know the tipping guidelines for every city we were in since they varied greatly from country to country. Also- really?! They couldn’t pay 10 bucks!! Back in the states that meal would easily have cost them 50- considering they also had beer! Sorry you had to go through that- I always wince a little when I feel a situation like that might happen near me!
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  8. Jackie

    December 18, 2010 4:26 pm

    That is apalling behaviour. You should print off that list and hand it out to local businesses to post, or possibly just paper Laos with it. It’s bad enough when someone makes a major cultural faux pas out of ignorance, and unthinkable that someone would actually be that offensive by choice.
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  9. Jozef Maxted

    December 18, 2010 5:29 pm

    This is a horrible story, and its sad occasions like this that give young people a bad name. Myself and two friends are going on a rtw trip in Feb and we are 18 & 19, but I can tell you now we would never dream of treating locals like this. Firstly we underatnd how priviledged and lucky we are to be going on a trip like this anyway, and secondly what those german girls did basically comes down to theft!

    This poor familly work harder everyday just to pay the bills and buy food than those German girls ever will in their entire life. Its sickening. Anyway, I’m a great believer in what goes around, comes around so hopefully in the near future these girls will get their deserved comeuppance.
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  10. Cathy Sweeney

    December 19, 2010 12:44 am

    Such a great post, Amy. I wish I could say that this was a rare example of poor behavior while traveling. But I’ve seen similar levels of rudeness myself. If people are just unaware of a local custom or make human mistakes without meaning harm, it’s one thing. But it’s quite another to go about behaving so intentionally rude.

    Thanks for using this situation as an opportunity to remind us all of the importance of gratitude.
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  11. The NVR Guys

    December 19, 2010 4:26 am

    Great post Amy. As travelers, it is incumbent upon us to be ambassadors for our own countries.

    Borders aside, it is our jobs as people – sharing experiences with other people – to be good. Isn’t it crazy how simple it is. Be a good person.
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  12. Gray

    December 19, 2010 3:22 pm

    Terrific post. You had me at the opening image, but the story just got my blood boiling. I’m surprised the other customers didn’t pick these 3 girls up and physically toss them out of the restaurant on their miserable asses.
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  13. Renee

    December 19, 2010 3:31 pm


    Usually when you find people who are that self absorbed, they have missed the entire point of traveling to places that’s foreign to them. They’re so used to their own charmed lives, that they can’t appreciate those who live a much different reality. They have no idea that they are cheating themselves of the opportunity to practice simple human decency and consideration and they never consider the possibility that they are merely guests in someone else’s house. Sadly, it’s a rarity to get them to see the error of their ways. Excellent post!
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  14. John in France

    December 19, 2010 8:36 pm

    Fantastic article! Well done! In my business with French tourism I get this often as well – “the waiter was so rude, I know he speaks some English, but he only spoke in French” – “but did you speak any of your school boy French to him?”. But at the end of the day, you get out of life what you put in to it – I feel sorry for the three German girls, and the Australian lads too!
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  15. Jeremy B

    December 20, 2010 6:45 am

    Let me start off by saying thanks for the tips. It’s nice that when you travel to think of other people and be kind and considerate. As for the morons, I read something recently from a humor column that said that a person who isn’t nice to a waiter isn’t a nice person in life and that fact is always true. What a spoiled, selfish bunch of immature kids! It’s people like them that give travelers a bad name! I only hope that karma came back to bite them later on.

    How sad but what a great illustration of how privileged we are and what opportunities we have to give back to others in our travels. Even if it’s not with deeds or money, we can do in with kindness and respect.
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  16. Robin

    December 20, 2010 10:01 pm

    It’s a fact that a significant proportion of those who label themselves travelers or free spirits or nomads or whatever you call it are in fact just brats with cash. Well done for highlighting the fact and another excellent post…

  17. Laurel @Expat in Germany

    December 21, 2010 8:39 pm

    Thank you for sharing this and for the reminder of the importance of gratitude. I hate to hear these type of stories, especially in a place like Laos, where the people are gentle, polite and eager to please. When I lived in Thailand, I saw on numerous occasions tourists screaming at taxi drivers for not speaking English, it made me so angry. People need to realize that everything will not be like it is at home – that’s the whole point of traveling. Enjoy your holiday in Laos and try the caving if you get a chance. It’s one of my favorite countries in the world!

  18. Lorna - the roamantics

    December 22, 2010 7:51 am

    amy, i’m so glad you’ve written this! it breaks my heart when i see this happening at home or abroad. having been in the service industry in the past, i learned the saying, “there are a few people you don’t mess with- your doctor, your hairdresser, and the person who serves your food!” a half-threat that i wish everyone understood! what a solid list. unfortunately, i think that for #7, some people aren’t looking for that- they’re just looking for a new backdrop for another party…which leads to the rest, and especially #10. thanks for reminding people not to be “knobs” and to pack their manners :)
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  19. Kirsty

    December 22, 2010 8:26 am

    This story is awful and it’s so sad when you have to witness things like this! If you can’t embrace the culture etc I am not sure why they want to travel in the first place!
    We always try to learn the basics of the local language, it helps in loads of situations and it is respectful… hurry up i am hungry is definitely not!
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  20. Caz Makepeace

    December 23, 2010 10:14 am

    I read this post days ago on the train and have been dying to get back to write a comment. Great post Amy. This is a real sore spot for Craig and I as well. We cannot stand it when travellers act like this. IT gives the rest of us a bad name. Not only is it bad manners, but it is total exploitation, like kicking a dog when its down. I have a post in the works about a similar experience we had in Vietnam. A group of, and I was almost under the table with shame when these Aussies opened their mouths- threatened the owner of a restaurant that they would go elsewhere if she did not give them free beers. “Don’t you know how much money we are bringing into you with all of this food?” OMG. It was horrible. The poor lady was almost in tears, begging them that to stay and that she could not give away beers. Meanwhile her child is crawling around her legs. It was quiet season as well so business was really slow. I just wanted to cry so badly for her and the state of humanity to be so unaware of the plight of others and to act in such a selfish and mean way.
    I wonder how can people grow up to have such poor manners. That is all it comes down to basic manners, consideration and respect.
    Thank you for speaking out about it and I hope anyone who has acted in this manner before is hanging their head in shame and having a wake up call.
    Caz Makepeace recently posted..80 of Travellers are Running Away from SomethingMy ComLuv Profile

  21. RyukyuMike

    December 23, 2010 1:00 pm

    Excellent post and should be printed and handed to all travellers at the home country departure gate before boarding a flight for an overseas destination. I’ve see this kind of ridiculous behavior in most countries I’ve travelled. And it’s not just the youth; there are a lot of old-pompous asses travelling the globe, as well.

  22. Ella

    December 23, 2010 6:57 pm

    Great post! Wish people like those girls would read it! They sound horrible! I hope they end up learning the lesson of gratitude! I think when people act like that to waiters etc who they don’t have to be nice to, it really just shows what they’re like as people!

    Just want to stick up for young travelers, I’m only 18 but I would never dream of treating anybody like that!

    At the end of the day if you want people to welcome you into their country you need to treat them well! I think it’s kind of pointless when people just want what they have at home in foreign countries, I get it when looking for home comforts but it’s not how to actually spend the whole time away!
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  23. Erica

    December 25, 2010 8:52 am

    People like this drive my absolutely batty.

    I have worked in the customer service industry for the better of 12 years and I would NEVER consider being like this to anyone. While pedicabbing one day I heard a customer yell at a cabbie, “You’re JUST a cab driver, how DARE you treat me like this!”

    It is just insane that people don’t have the common courtesy to treat people like human beings and beyond with a simple please and thank you.

    I mean, being brought up in the Southern US I was taught super manners along with your yes mams and no sirs.
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  24. bazza201

    January 3, 2011 4:15 am

    Great post and advice–as other posters have said, this should be required rerading. I spent a year in South Korea and saw similar behaviour from so-called ESL professionals, however as South Koreans are not, perhaps, as dependent on tourism as other Asian countries, they basically do not tolerate idiot westerners and their shameful behaviour.

  25. Leigh

    January 3, 2011 4:57 am

    Brilliant and so full of loving kindness. If we all could use this common sense in our every day lives. . .and when we travel. . .what a better place the world would be. Thank you for your light and for your words that wisely land in the world. Safe and happy travels be yours.

  26. Elemental

    January 3, 2011 11:07 pm

    It isn’t just “abroad” that such behavior occurs; more times than I care to recall, I was verbally abused and assaulted as a food service worker in Boulder CO and Jackson WY. People who should know better constantly demanding to “speak with your manager….” I love being able to point to the equally harassed guy next to me and say, “There he is, and he is also the owner.” People tend to be a little nicer to him, as he’s about 6’6″, 280 pounds and wears a shirt that says, “You are right when I say you are.”

    And it is invariably people from large cities who act the worst when they are in small town America. We aren’t rubes, idiots, f*&%ing retards (you have no idea how many well-dressed mothers have called me that, in front of their children). We aren’t bumbling crooks or shifty-eyed thugs trying to pull one over on the city-folk. We are honest, hard-working, struggling people, trying to make it through the day.

    To your list, I would add 11:) Be nice to the people who make your food.

  27. ale

    January 12, 2011 8:50 pm

    It is indeed a very sad affair. I have been traveling around the globe and have seen this too often. the problem is that the people who do this are usually the ones who don’t read this article or if they do they don’t think there is anything wrong with them. They believed they are better than everybody else and the victim is privileged to have their business or presence. Unfortunately they are beyond education.

  28. ceallaig

    February 3, 2011 2:44 am

    I’ve never been lucky enough to be able to travel outside the US (and very little inside it, for that matter), but the same set of rules could be applied anywhere you go. You’d be amazed at just how rude and stingy people can be at any restaurant, anywhere. I’ve also worked a LOT of retail, and just because you wait on people to make a buck, some folks look at you as a lower life form and consider that whatever manners they may have don’t have to be used on you. As a result, I have always gone out of my way to tip as generously as I can, find a smile and a kind word for anyone that assists me in a store or restaurant (a smile costs you nothing),and try to behave like a civilized human being, esp. if I see someone else who is acting like a complete ‘knob’ (great word that) At the very least, I learned please and thank you at my mother’s knee, and she’d come back from the other side and tan my hide if I didn’t use them. thanks for the article and the poster!

  29. Simone

    February 3, 2011 4:11 am

    This is such a refreshing post. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Small gestures go such a long way, not just when traveling… but all the time. Thanks for such a well-worded reminder. :)

  30. Jake

    February 18, 2011 4:40 am

    Awesome post and advice. It’s crazy to think people can be that insanely rude and inconsiderate! Looking back the first few times I went overseas I still regret not making an effort to learn more of the language. My pet hate is seeing tourists in other countries get frustrated and rude when the waiter/cabbie etc. doesn’t understand their English properly. YOU are in their country, have a think about it! They come from a much more disadvantaged background than these comparatively rich people yet still have a pretty good handle of English, and these tourists give them grief simply because they didn’t understand the colloquial English turn of phrase they threw at them at a million miles an hour! How many foreign languages do you know idiot? Aaaaargh!
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  31. Beta

    February 27, 2011 4:42 am

    Great post, I was wondering where you found that image at the top of the page? I would love to hang something like that at some point. :-)

  32. Shannon

    March 22, 2011 4:46 pm

    AWESOME POST! I have gotten to travel outside of the US and I tell you what, my fellow travelers aren’t very nice. When they say the ‘Ugly American Syndrome’, I can tell you straight out it’s the truth. I’ve had ‘friends’ yell at people in restaurants that ‘it wasn’t like it was at home’. Truthfully, they weren’t friends with me much after I told them they need to learn some manners and learn the culture of the people they are visiting. I dont care who or where you are, you need to have manners and courtesy, there are no barriers with common courtesy.

  33. Martin

    April 1, 2011 8:28 pm

    Very good read, thankfully this is the exception rather than the rule.
    Actually in my backpacker days I very rarely came across such outrageous behavior as the German girls. I can’t understand what the girls hope to achieve by taking time out from their enclosed little lives. Their parents need a damn good slapping to have raised such filth

  34. Ashley frizzell

    April 3, 2011 10:35 pm

    I love this. We recently travelled to Indonesia and it is amazing how unappreciative westerners can be. My hope is that more people adapt the way of thinking that they can vacation and do their part to help someone in need who would never ask. Money isn’t always the answer, but a smile and a helping hand will be remembered for the rest of someones life. I saw the same things, not as extreme in several bars in Indonesia. Those poor servers, you could see by the looks on their faces how much people and their actions hurt.

  35. James

    April 28, 2011 6:07 pm

    My first trip to Laos was back in 1991, a very nice place and it was (and possibly still is) one of the poorest countries in Asia. Unfortunately, over the decades there seems to have been an increase in the number of vulgar and ignorant people like these three young German girls traveling to places like Laos. One wonders why they even bother since they seem to have no appreciation for the people or the culture of the places they visit. Is it only so they can stuff their faces with cheap food and beer? I used to love to travel but people like this are ruining the experience of travel for everyone else.

    By the way, as a general observation, Germans are normally among the more well behaved nationalities when traveling in foreign places. There are always exceptions I guess.

  36. Timothy

    June 2, 2011 8:32 pm

    Hi Amy – fellow Worlder and traveler with a Canadian passport! Love your thoughts on traveling with gratitude. I’m going to post a link on our site on Facebook. Please feel invited to post links to new writings you do. TJD
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  37. NLM

    October 12, 2011 7:17 pm

    Some people are miserable and unhappy whether they are at home or away…Just try to stay clear of them, and don’t engage them. I have found that a sympathetic head shake lets the waiter (or vendor, or owner) know that you are not like that. (And, of course, I usually overtip to make up for it–but that’s just me, tilting at windmills, I guess).
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  38. PeteJ

    October 13, 2011 3:55 am

    Thanks Amy for sharing your ideas about Gratitude Reminders for Travelers. You give valued insight into being courteous to our fellow man. We are richer than most and should appreciate the fact that we have the opportunity to travel this amazing world. Be a giver not a taker and you will be wealthy beyond your wildest dreams.

  39. Anji

    November 21, 2011 12:57 pm

    It’s sad to see how power and money can change a person’s personality. Beautifully written, I could totally imagine the situation!
    I loved your traveler gratitude tips! To be thankful is the key! Make Gratitude your Attitude! :)

  40. Peachie

    December 6, 2011 9:03 am

    I know I read this post about a year late (^^U) But I am glad I was able to. Thank you for sharing the reminders – I hope it helps many of us remember how to interact with others and respect people and cultures from everywhere.

    I have just subscribed to your blog and I am looking forward to read more about your tips and travels :)

  41. Tom Bartel

    February 19, 2012 1:01 pm

    It’s very hard to know what to do when confronted with the behavior displayed by those German women, except to go ahead and call them idiots for the entire restaurant to hear…and applaud.


    April 19, 2012 2:12 am

    There is a real cultural divide between the West and the rest in terms of this kind of stuff. But it’s weird. Gratitude, social niceties, etc. is extremely important outside of the West, but on the other hand customer service values (for want of a better word) are much superior in the West. Now I really believe those “customer service values” are absolutely fake, but they do make dealing with businesses smoother than it can be in developing countries.

    But anyways, Canadians are “notorious” for their niceness! Its great most of the time. But there are some dangers, sometimes. On the one hand, it can be annoying to people who might interpret it as being artificial. On the other hand, others might see it as being naive and take real advantage of you.

    In any case, great post.


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