The Travel Foundation has put together a list of tips to help you feel confident about interacting with locals and deal with hassle fairly so that it doesn’t ruin your holiday, while acknowledging that meeting and chatting to local people can be the most enjoyable part of a visit too.
1. Walk with purpose so you look like you know where you're going. If you're being followed by persistent hawkers, stop, tell them politely you don’t want to buy anything, and that you want to walk alone.
2. Respect local dress codes. Light, loose clothing is perfect for hotter climates where you need to cover up.
3. Leave valuables, passport and emergency credit card back at base and in the hotel safe and you'll feel more relaxed.
4. Don't accept “gifts” from strangers. Usually they will expect something in return and you might find it awkward to negotiate on the price of that free guided tour or bracelet after you’ve already accepted it.
5. Don't encourage begging. Instead, try to find a good local charity to donate to.
6. Never say “maybe later” or “maybe tomorrow” as a shopkeeper or guide will consider this a promise. If you don't want to buy what they’re selling, say “no, thank you” firmly, but politely. Even better, learn how to say “no, thank you” in the local language.
7. Perfect the art of haggling as in many countries you will be expected to negotiate. Think carefully about what's a fair price – do some research on local prices. Well-made goods deserve to be sold at a fair price. Haggling can be a friendly exchange - so relax, be polite, get bargaining, and you might even find that you can haggle with humour!
8. Research the tipping culture so you can stop worrying about when and how much to tip. If your driver or guide repeatedly reminds you about their tip, make it clear that if they hassle you they won't get anything. Wherever you are, try not to tip bad service, but if someone goes out of their way to help you it's always appreciated to offer a reasonable tip.
Salli Felton is Chief Executive of the Travel Foundation (thetravelfoundation.org.uk)
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