Hey Australian Tourists: You’re Just as Bad as Americans
New hostel. You’re checked in and journeying to the common area. Loud voices carry down the hall. Americans, probably, you think. You’re proud to disassociate yourself.
But wait. Amongst that group, so obnoxious, is something you never expected. It’s a subtle symbol of patriotism – a signifier of the life you left behind. It’s a Mad Hueys cap.
Those Americans are Australian.
We are a swarm, bound together by our mutual nationality, steadily continuing our tradition of colonisation. We save up for a year, or less, and journey to beautiful places. Eat lovely things. Take stunning photos. In this, we are so privileged.
We’ll visit a country without having read a word on it beforehand. National customs are given little-to-no thought – rarely do we even learn the basic language of the place. And it seems a hard concept for us to grasp that, despite how loudly we say something in English, “they” still won’t understand it.
We make complaints – about the weather, the lifestyles, the siestas, the different food, the cleanliness of cities and the smallness of our dorm rooms. We roll our eyes about the English and the Irish and their lad chants at festivals, yet we can’t resist hollering, “Heeey, heya baybeh. OOH. AH. I wanna knooow if you’ll be my girl,” while toting an Aussie flag.
We go to countries where some people can’t even afford to eat, and drink so much that we vomit our expensive lunch into the street.
Our followers are constantly updated on the #boyseurotrip or #yeahthegirls antics, in which we take advantage of a culture for the perfect snap, all while being so disconnected from the local society. Lots of us spend our time dominating the lounge room at our hostel while probably blasting Sticky Fingers, and almost definitely playing King’s Cup.
Consciously or not, so many of us put little effort into having meaningful interactions with locals. So maybe let’s not be offended by the “No Foreigners” plaque on that bar in Tokyo’s Golden Gai district.
We fair evade, rather than stimulate economies, then play the dumb tourist when we get caught. We pollute, then complain about how European summers are getting warmer. We walk on bikeways. Take up both sides of an escalator in a busy train station. Cut queues without noticing. We ask for discounts in a store outside of a marketplace.
I’ve seen an Australian man getting aggressive while bartering over the equivalent of 20 cents at a market in Indonesia. I’ve also been in the widely poverty-stricken country of Hungary and watched my friends blow cocaine up their butts. I’ve worked in Munich for an Australian company, where none of the staff knew a lick of the language. In the same setting, I’ve heard Nazi jokes being made.
Not all of us are guilty (though I certainly am). Plus, simply being tourists doesn’t necessarily make us dicks, since travelling is rarely done with malice. But maybe we need to remember why we started travelling in the first place, and that it probably wasn’t to hang out with more Aussies. And perhaps, before we start pointing fingers at who’s the most annoying, we need to take a good hard look at ourselves.
I’m not necessarily saying you’re an obnoxious traveller, but if you’re the only person talking on the train… well, yeah.
Cover via The Church London