How to be a Stupid TouristPeople are like beer. We’re all basically the same wet, delicious stuff, except that we’ve been poured into different shaped containers called ‘countries.’ While we grow up thinking that our shape of container is the correct one because we fit in it so perfectly, we look around at the others and think that their ones are a bit, well, weird. We wouldn’t fit in them, anyway – square beer, round glass, etc. When we finally do get to spend a bit of time in other containers, though, we realise that all of the other beer is the same as us — except in a container that it also assumed was the correct shape too, just like we did. How silly of us. That’s when we become slightly smarter tourists, start to enjoy different kinds of beer, and drink more, obviously. However, some people are more like ice cubes, and it doesn’t matter which container you put them in, they’re still fucking ice cubes, bumbling around at the top of the glass and ruining the beer for everyone. This is a helpful guide to being one.
Nothing can protect you like a language barrierIf you want to be a truly stupid tourist you should avoid learning any of the local language no matter how long you stay, which will ensure all of the following steps are easier to achieve. At the very most, you should learn ‘please,’ ‘thank you,’ and ‘sorry,’ but use them interchangeably in all circumstances and contexts when pointing doesn’t work.
And the rest, as they say, is geographyHistory is such old news, really. I mean, who has the time? Not you. You’re a stupid tourist. Your job is take photos of things you’ll never look at, misinterpret basic escalator etiquette, and say inappropriate things. For example, when visiting a country like Germany you might know there were some old, vague historical spats with the neighbors. But that was more like a loud late-night party that got a bit out of control and the police were called in, right? Right. Good. Don’t learn more. That frees you up to say things like, “Austria, that’s basically a mini-Germany, right?” Fine. Alternatively, if someone says that they are from a British city that is not London, you should ask “Is that near London?” If they say, “No, it isn’t at all,” then you should ask exactly how far away from London it isn’t. If they say, “it’s really, really far away. In fact, its the furthest place away possible. It’s on a bit of wood hanging from the edge of an island off the north coast of Scotland.” You should then ask them how long it would take to commute to London if they got a job there, like a real person.
Money is just, like, a concept, manThe smartest way to be a stupid tourist is to see foreign money not as an alternate, competing system of currency, but a humorous real life equivalent of Monopoly banknotes. Paying for things abroad is different to paying for things at home, where the numbers beside the items in shops are anchored to a boring reality of things like consequences. No, on holiday you simply take out the maximum amount of foreign money your dumb brain estimates you could possibly spend, then buy everything you vaguely want until that number is gone. At this point, you can either moan about the situation for the rest of the holiday from the hotel, or use a cash-point to obtain another maximum amount of foreign money that your dumb brain estimates you could possibly spend again, then restart the countdown.
Can I just get one of everything? ThanksWith too-much-money in hand, it’s time to skip merrily to the local supermarket, complete with its aisles and aisles of things you must choose by attempting to recognise the picture on the packaging. This is a lengthy but enjoyable process, as you get to become briefly acquainted with foreign cartoon advertising mascots, and the giggly names of cleaning products like Spaz! and Jizz! Luckily, there are some international standards to help you:
- Yellow tin = sweetcorn
- Cartoon pirate tiger = sugared cereal
- Tall white box = liquid/semi-liquid product of cow.
Don’t fear changeOf course, filling your basket with foreign products is the easy bit. You have all the time in the world to browse around, pick things up, put things down, and stare at unknown items with intrigue, confusion, or horror. Paying for things, however, is the tricky bit, and ultimately is an exercise in keeping your cool under two overlapping pressures:
- Interacting with a fellow human, sharing only the communicative devices of three words, pointing, and staring like a dumb cow;
- Being part of a queue, which means you must be stupid, but quicker.