Do You Speak Touriste? Brits abroad shouldn't expect home comforts

Holidaymakers need to drastically rethink their mindset and foreign tourism boards need to stop catering people who refuse to step outside their comfort zone

Share
Related Topics

When I went to Australia I ate kangaroo. I tried super strength beer in Belgium, attempted to speak the lingo in Austria, and, when I once found myself at a hippy house party in a country mansion, I ate a squirrel and danced on the tables.

Fitting in with the local environment wherever you are – or at least trying to – is one of the most fundamental aspects of travelling. Holidays are all about new experiences; new sights, new food and new ideas. They’re a way of widening your perspectives, understanding different cultures and challenging the way you think. Why is it then, that we are so insistent on taking our own culture on holiday too?

The stereotypical image of “Brits abroad” is, quite frankly, terrifying. We drink to excess, our attempt at languages peaks at shouting slowly and all we want to eat is burgers and chips. Holidaying in popular ex-pat destinations like Spain has become increasingly like visiting a slightly sunnier Britain, with row upon row of British restaurants and no need to utter even a syllable of Spanish.

Yet we are not alone in wanting every country we visit to become akin to our home nation. This week the Paris Chamber of Commerce and Industry launched a new guidebook on the city called 'Do You Speak Touriste?'. But unlike other guides advising tourists on the cultural highlights of the French capital, this new project instructs the tourism industry on how to make the foreigners feel more at home.

Americans like to eat at 6pm we’re told. They expect Wi-Fi everywhere and will be on first name terms within minutes. The Chinese, on the other hand, are obsessed with shopping and consider a friendly smile the key requirement in any conversation. And what about us Brits? Well, we insist on eating at an absurdly early hour and expect all activities to be “playful”, of course.

Yet while the rationale behind making foreigners feel at home makes sense – after all, whichever business most appeals to our xenophobic minds will rake in the financial rewards – that doesn’t make our expectations right. Holidaymakers of all nationalities need to drastically rethink their mindset about travelling. Equally, foreign tourism industries need to stop catering people who refuse to step outside their comfort zone.

Understanding the cultural values of the places we visit is important. Isolating ourselves means we lose the ability to emphasise with people, promotes ignorance and exacerbates tensions between locals and visitors. There’s no excuse for being an idiot abroad; respecting the local culture is neither hard or costly. Checking out a phrasebook from the local library, doing a quick spot of internet research or just simply being open to new ideas and experiences are all free, and ridiculously easy to do. No one expects you to become an instant expert, but a level of respect is just common decency.

Of course to some people travelling isn’t just about seeing the world. It’s about taking a break from the everyday nine to five and having a well-earned rest. You might even argue that in order to properly relax you need home comforts, like a good old English roast or sandals and socks.

But if your cultural values are so rigid you refuse to accept anything other than Earl Grey and fish & chips perhaps you should rethink your choice of holiday destination. I’ve heard that Devon is quite British.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Commercial Litigation

Highly Attractive Salary: Austen Lloyd: CITY - SENIOR COMMERCIAL LITIGATION SO...

BI Developer - Sheffield - £35,000 ~ £40,000 DOE

£35000 - £40000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client is...

Employment Solicitor

Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: MANCHESTER - Senior Employment Solici...

Senior Risk Manager - Banking - London - £650

£600 - £650 per day: Orgtel: Conduct Risk Liaison Manager - Banking - London -...

Day In a Page

 

Opponents of Israel's military operation in Gaza are the real enemies of Middle Eastern peace

Gabriel Sassoon
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

Inside a church for Born Again Christians

As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

Incredible survival story of David Tovey

Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride