February 4, 2008

35 Signs That You're a New or Short-Term Traveler
Loja, Ecuador

How I know how long you've been traveling continuously, or how long you'll probably be traveling for, without asking you a single question:

  1. Your designer sunglasses cost more than the average monthly wage of the townspeople
  2. You're asking someone for toilet paper because you're not carrying any
  3. You've clogged the toilet because you flushed your used toilet paper instead of depositing it in the bin in the corner
  4. You're not carrying any locks, or when the opportunity to use your own padlock presents itself, you're using the stock lock and key provided
  5. You're wearing jeans
  6. You're drinking alcohol every night
  7. You're petting stray dogs on the street
  8. You pull out money of an ATM without any idea of the exchange rate
  9. You're using a wallet
  10. You're wearing a money belt
  11. You're using your money belt like a wallet
  12. You're cashing traveler's checks
  13. You're making no effort to learn the smallest of phrases (yes, no, hello, thank you) in the local language
  14. You have your path/itinerary/activities planned out (to the day)
  15. You arrived at the immigration checkpoint without a pen
  16. You don't have your passport number memorized
  17. You're wearing Crocs
  18. You don't lock your room or belongings up every single time you leave, especially if it's to go to the bathroom for just a moment
  19. You're carrying a hairdryer
  20. You're not carrying any clothespins
  21. You're using non-rechargeable batteries
  22. You're carrying a camcorder
  23. You're not haggling down the price
  24. You're taking the first room shown to you
  25. You're paying for a room without looking at it first
  26. You've left your backpack with a travel agent or hotel owner who simply keeps it in the corner of the room (not locked up)
  27. You're traveling with a rolling suitcase or hard-sided carry-on
  28. You've let hotel staff retain your passport
  29. You're sitting in the back of the bus, or on the rear axle
  30. All you're ever cooking in the communal kitchen is rice and pasta
  31. You're sewing country flags onto your backpack
  32. You've got a large collection of bracelets stretching up your arm from every country/city you've visited
  33. You've got a large collection of bracelets from all the nightclubs you've been to recently, and are wearing them like badges of honor
  34. You've got one or more airline baggage routing/claim tags attached to your backpack, and are keeping them affixed intentionally (more badges of honor)
  35. You've got an Apple laptop with you

Comments:

roosh

February 7th, 2008

Bahahahahaha spot on list.

I currently do number 5 and 20, but I have done 23, 24, 25, and 30.

The lack of common sense in the average gringo amazes me. Seeing no. 11 is very common. The other day i heard the sob story of a guy who put all three of his credit cards in a jacket and lost it in the carnival parade. Without lonely planet and ATMs, many more would die

Tristan

February 9th, 2008

A hair dryer? Really???

Anonymous

February 27th, 2008

I have two issues with your list:

I don't see anything wrong with using a wallet, as long as you keep it in your front pocket and rest a thumb in each pocket in crowded areas. It sure is better then wearing a money belt.

I wish more people wore jeans. Just because you are traveling does not mean you need to look like a slob wearing the gringo backpacker outfit.

Peru

Craig | travelvice.com

February 27th, 2008

Whatcha got in that "Constanza wallet" that you need while traveling other than cash, anonymous?

hogwell

July 12th, 2008

As a "New" traveler that might unintentionally commit one of the 35 "signs" in my upcoming and first trip to Ecuador, I'd love more explanation and your suggestions!

What's the deal with bluejeans? Only worn in the US? Many of your photos show people in jeans. What do you like to wear when traveling? (Cargo pants, slacks?)

And… what do you use for your money and credit cards if you don't use a wallet? (just wad your bills in your pockets??)

Any suggestions for best securing personal items (passport, credit cards, etc.?)

Great blog, by the way!

The United States

Craig | travelvice.com

July 12th, 2008

Howdy,

In my eyes jeans are general a travel no-no because they take forever and a day to dry when wet, and they're heavy to carry around in your pack.

I have just a single pair of shorts and pants with me, and they're made out of rip-stop blend of polyester and cotton with a button fly. The brand is TRU-SPEC, and it's what many of the freelance mercs in Iraq are wearing (ordered from brigadeqm.com). Highly recommended.

There are two schools of thought regarding passport protection: Keep it on your person, or in your room/pack. I think it best to vary where you keep things, depending on the type of environment you're in, but as a default, I consider the likelihood that I'll be mugged by aggressors or get my documents wet much greater than a bandit grabbing them out of my pack.

Keep your windows shut and locked when you leave the room (mind that people with poles with hooks on them can easily grab things through bars), always try and select rooms where you can use your own padlock on your door (not the hotel or hostel's room keys or lock), and always keep your bag chained to something immoveable when you leave it unattended (to prevent quick grabs).

As for carrying money around: I carry what I need for the day, plus a US$20 bill wrapped around my driver's license that's tucked into a hidden pocket that's actually sewn into the inside of my shorts/pants. I also have this same pocket in my swimsuit (photo).

I keep just the bills in my front pocket, with a bandana on top of it to keep causal pickpockets from snagging my notes. I think a wallet just adds bulk, and makes it easier to people to see where/how you keep your money.

Anonymous

November 24th, 2009

Hey Craig. I love your site and have been reading it for a while now preparing for a 12 + month journey south of the border to Central and South America. I was looking at the pants you recommended above and was wondering how long it takes the cotton\poly blend to dry. If you wash them at night are they usually dry by morning?

The United States

Craig | travelvice.com

November 24th, 2009

Of course the humidity and location your pants are drying is going vary drastically, but it's safe to say that those pants will dry faster than anything else your fellow travelers will be wearing. And even if they're a little damp, just put 'em on and let your body heat go the last mile.

Happy travels!

ilikesprite

December 16th, 2009

Hi Craig,

While I mostly liked reading your list, it does make it sound as if you are somehow better than short-term or newer travelers. More experienced, absolutely, but not any better of a person. Remember, you were once a new traveler, too. I could have done with a little less snark.

That being said, I can usually see how much someone travels by how they treat the locals. Some tourists treat them as if they're on display in a zoo. This is especially common in countries where there is ceremonial dress. I've seen tourists blatantly walk within 2 feet of gussied-up children just to get a photo, without any regard for context or manners. That's what zooms are for… or maybe just take a mental picture.

Argentina

Jess

April 22nd, 2010

My biggest disagreement is the jeans. I only brought jeans and I brought several pairs. Why? They fit well, they look damn good (I brought only my favorite, well fitting ones) and everyone wears them, at least in South America. Khakis scream gringo down here.
Maybe for you, but I am not going to wash my clothes in the sink. I never worry about how to dry my jeans because I use the local lavanderia. Locals here take their clothes to the cleaners and tourists can too! Sure, it costs more but you choose how you want to spend your time. To be a 'true savvy traveler' you don't have to wash clothes in sinks.

The United States

Six

June 7th, 2010

@Jess,

Your 2wk annual vacations are not the same as Craig's 4yr lifetime on the road. Locals work for a living and I assume you do too, so can afford the luxury of the local lavanderia. Craig spends his life traveling, and so must make certain concessions we might otherwise think absurd. Craig isn't interested in looking "damn good," just seeing the world, and Beliz looks the same from designer blue jeans or ripstop khakis.

Singapore

verselines

June 11th, 2010

Generally I don't travel with a laptop, but am contemplating bringing one on my next trip since I'll be couchsurfing.

Why not Apple?

Peru

Craig | travelvice.com

June 11th, 2010

Apple laptops and on-the-road maintenance don't mesh well. Resolving the inevitable hardware or software issues are best done with systems in use by the majority, not the minority. Carrying around an expensive, flashy MacBook is certainly in line with folks traveling for shorter periods of time who aren't as concerned with the ruggedness and maintenance of living on the road with a laptop.

Congrats on the CouchSurfing — a fantastic way to travel.

India

Dustin Brett

November 24th, 2011

It's a good/funny list. Some things on the list I've been forced into because of lack of options but I agree with almost everything on the list, these are the only comments I had:

- I had a wallet and money belt at start of trip, used the belt once and just got annoyed with it, used the wallet for months until I realized everything in it was not needed on a daily basis except money and debit/visa cards. I now put my money and 2 cards in the plastic passport cover that my passport is in and then put that in my front pocket of my pants 99% of the time. I use my debit card often as I take out enough money for only 3-4 days when I am near ATM's as it costs me nothing to take out money at ATM's and I don't like carrying $100 around with me.

- As for clogging the toilet with toilet paper, I do throw my TP in the toilet as I find that bin disgusting but I make sure to flush often as to not clog the thing.

- The jeans argument is big on travel forums and such, I personally like jeans and wear them all the time. If I want to wash them I get them washed (Rs. 10 in India) or I do them myself and wear shorts for a few days. It's not that hard and allows me to be as comfy as I am at home and blend in just fine as everyone wears jeans.

- I don't understand the clothespins reference as I have never found myself wishing I had one.

The United States

Ross

August 29th, 2013

Controversial list. I would agree with 95% of them though but I don’t bring clothes pins and I have often walked up immigration without a pen but most of the time I had it previously filled out. Iv done both the long term travelling and the 1 and 2 week thing and a lot of the above do get on my nerves. Jeans seem to be the most controversial item but I would still bring a pair as they are never out of place and hide dirt well. A small bit of foresight when washing and drying means there is no problem.

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