According to the locals in practically any major city, tourists suck.
They stop in the middle of the street to take pictures, travel in large groups that are impossible to navigate around and dress in a way that would make any modern fashionista shudder.
Basically, they fail at blending in, and it’s extremely annoying.
Growing up in Boston, I hated the tourists who would flood Faneuil Hall, Boston Common and seemingly every street corner. They so clearly didn’t belong, and they didn’t even try to belong in my city.
Naturally, I just wished they would just leave.
But as someone who recently moved to New York, I’ve found myself participating in the many touristy behaviors I once demonized.
Since I’m new to the area, I’ll frequently visit well-known attractions. I sometimes even have to pull out Google Maps to figure out where I’m going (cringe), and I often feel I don’t quite fit in yet.
However, I no longer see these practices as "the worst things ever." In fact, I believe locals can actually learn a lot from the tourists in their city.
So, with that, let me present four life tips from your worst enemy, the tourist.
1. Don’t take your city for granted.
Most major cities have a lot of attractions and historical sights, which is why so many tourists visit to begin with.
Don’t be afraid to let go of your ego for a moment and check them out. People likely travel from all over the world to see things that are right in your backyard, so take advantage.
If you end up putting it off for too long, you may end up living in New York for 10 years without ever seeing the top of the Empire State Building. (This actually happened to someone I know.)
2. Take things slow.
One of the things tourists receive the most criticism for is being so damn slow. But the advantage of their turtle-like speed is they can fully observe everything around them.
Take a page out of the tourist book, and stop being in such a rush all the time. You’ll likely start to recognize gorgeous buildings, parks and tons of other structures your tunnel vision previously blinded you from.
Yes, you probably have places to go and people to see. But, maybe leave a few minutes early each morning to stop and smell the roses.
3. Recognize when function is more important than fashion.
I realize that statement is extremely unpopular among residents of a fashion hub like New York, but don’t start a riot just yet.
I’m all about sporting the latest trends when it’s feasible, but sometimes it’s just not. Tourists recognize this notion, perhaps more than any other group of people.
If it’s sunny, they’ll wear a hat. If they want to be hands-free, they’ll strap on a fanny pack. If their ugly AF sunglasses protect them from UV rays better than the latest pair of Prada sunnies, then guess which pair they’ll don?
Yes, tourists can arguably look ridiculous, but they’re getting sh*t done. And isn’t that what matters most after all?
4. Incorporate planned spontaneity into your life.
Spontaneity is next to impossible when you have deadlines to meet and a boss to answer to. But, this doesn’t mean you can’t plan being spontaneous.
I realize that might sound counterintuitive and oxymoronic, but tourists do it all the time. Look at the next few months on your G-Cal, and find a spot where you and some friends might be able to take a long weekend.
You don’t need to plan your mini-vaca super rigidly; just set aside some time to chill and roll with the punches. You can thank me later.
Overall, I know tourists are super annoying at times, but they can also offer us some insight. So, next time you see a group of out-of-towners snapping pictures and visiting monuments, try to appreciate their unapologetic behavior.
After all, tourists remind us to worry less about fitting in, and more about fully living.