The Uselessness of Getting Upset While Traveling

The Uselessness of Getting Upset While Traveling

By |2016-07-01T10:24:55+00:00June 11th, 2014|Mexico, Perspectives|105 Comments

The Uselessness of Getting Upset While Traveling

About a year and a half ago, I was sitting at an outdoor table in front of a tiny food stall in the small town of Izamal, Mexico. There was a large group of us and we had all ordered some lunch. After fifteen minutes of waiting, the woman working at the food stall began brining out our food, one plate at a time. The only thing is that what she was bringing us, wasn’t exactly what we had ordered.

And before we knew it, our table was full of more chicken salbutes than we could have possibly wanted to eat, yet there wasn’t a taco or panucho or beef salbute in sight, all of which had been asked for. Some drinks were missing and some drinks were incorrect as well.

Of course, as this was all playing out, it was only natural that there started to be some grumbling as we wondered how this woman had managed to screw up our simple order so much. There was even some talk that maybe she had brought out extra food just to try and get more money from us and the conversation then turned to cheating and ripping foreigners off and how we needed to be careful. The mood around the table had clearly shifted, from happy and jovial to a bit annoyed and upset.

But, why?

After we finished eating whatever was brought to us, all of which was quite tasty I might add, I went over to the counter and paid the bill. Looking at the piece of paper where she had written our order, I noticed that she had brought us exactly what she had written on that paper. Was it what we had actually ordered? I don’t think so. But given our lack of Spanish fluency and the fact that Spanish was this woman’s second language (Mayan was her first), she did the best she could to decipher what we had said.

Also, in this tiny town of Izamal, large groups is not a common sight at a local food stall, not to mention a group consisting of several foreigners who, once again, for the most part, speak no Spanish and if they do, speak a hacked up version of it. Second, in Mexico, it’s not common to ask a ton of questions when ordering food. You just read the menu, choose something and that’s about it. For many of us, we are used to customizing our orders back home, asking for clarification, asking for more specific descriptions of each dish and so forth, so I can only imagine the confusion we caused by bombarding this woman with our questions, again, in our hacked up Spanish which wasn’t even her first language!

If you look at the situation this way, from an entirely different perspective, you can understand how we might have overwhelmed this food stall in this tiny, laid-back town where life is quite basic and moves at an extremely slow pace.

So, why did we immediately start thinking that we were being cheated and ripped off? Why were we getting upset that our order was not 100% correct?

The thing is that we tend to interpret everything we do/see/experience based on our specific knowledge of how we think the world works, or how it has worked for us throughout our lives. And this knowledge comes from our education, culture, upbringing, social circles and other experiences that we go through. It is not easy for us to first recognize, and then accept, that every situation has an endless number of perspectives depending on the people involved. Everyone brings their own background and culture to the table, something that makes it nearly impossible for two people to interpret the exact same situation in the exact same way.

With the example above at the food stall in Izamal, we wondered why our order was incorrect, something that seems like a perfectly normal reaction in our culture. But as for the woman running the food stall, she tried her very best to do something that she almost never has to do – cater to a large group of foreigners who are asking lots of questions, making adjustments to their orders, speaking terrible Spanish and probably confusing her beyond belief! She didn’t ‘screw up’ our order on purpose. She wasn’t after our money and didn’t try to cheat us at all.

In fact, she always had a smile on her face as she ran around trying to provide good food and good service to us random visitors to her home town. Suddenly the extra salbutes and the lack of tacos and the absence of the agua de tamarindo on the table doesn’t really matter. Whatever this sweet woman brought would be fine with me and I truly appreciated the effort she put into serving us!

Avoiding Unnecessary Negativity
When we travel, we are going to face endless situations, where we interpret things one way and we then react accordingly. And sometimes, this is going to lead us to anger, frustration and a strong feeling of annoyance based on how we think things should work. But if we can somehow force ourselves to take a moment before we react, before we reach a conclusion as to why something has happened, why someone has behaved a certain way, why we are in the situation we are in, and remind ourselves that every situation can be viewed from many different perspectives, we might be able to avoid unnecessary reactions that could impact our travels negatively.

When something happens and you start to get upset or annoyed, look around you. Look at everyone involved and try to think of the reasons they might have for their actions. Think of their culture, their background and influences, their possible life experiences and what may or may not be normal for that person. And remember that we are only seeing the world through our own experiences and that our world view is not the same world view as everyone we come across.

I try to remind myself of this constantly.

And this is how I’ve avoided what I believe to be unnecessary negativity for a long time now. Rarely do I get upset or annoyed or frustrated these days.

Getting Upset in Bishkek

Those Rude Locals!
If you’re walking around Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan and you get lost, and you walk up to a random taxi driver, asking for directions in English and a few mispronounced Russian words, don’t get upset if you are met with a serious look and a raised hand from the man in the driver seat, as if he was brushing you away. There is a good chance that this man was just shy and not at all used to interacting with foreigners, and he didn’t understand your attempt at Russian, and he didn’t speak a word of English, and maybe that raised hand gesture was his way of saying “I’m sorry, but I just don’t know how to help you”.

It’s the very same situation but, as I’ve pointed out above, it’s a completely different perspective. And while we’ll always tend to believe that our way of interpreting the world is right, believe me when I say that it’s worth the effort to push through that stubbornness and accept the fact that others may see the world and every single experience differently than we do.

What a shame it would be to walk around Bishkek all day unable to enjoy the city because you are annoyed that the Kyrgyz people are unfriendly and not very welcoming based on one misinterpreted interaction!

It happens more often than you may think. Every day we react to hundreds of different experiences, ranging from tiny to major, yet we seldom take into account anyone’s perspective on those situations except for our own. It’s unavoidable to an extent, but we can try to remember, as often as possible, that there is no absolute perspective for any situation we face.

Taking this approach quickly leads to a realization that getting upset or annoyed isn’t really something that makes sense most of the time. It’s usually just a waste of energy that can drain all involved of any happiness they might have been experiencing at the time. And besides, with less anger and frustration in our lives, especially the unnecessary kind, comes a calmer, healthier lifestyle, something that will ensure we enjoy an infinitely more rewarding set of travel adventures as well!

Are you able to view situations from different perspectives and avoid getting upset? Or do you find it challenging to do so? Any other thoughts?


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105 Comments

  1. astha April 30, 2016 at 5:52 am - Reply

    I absolutely agree with you! For me what works the best if trusting those I meet when I travel, and then it becomes much easier to see things from their perspective and go with the flow.. 🙂

  2. Alessandra Braun October 15, 2015 at 10:26 pm - Reply

    This is such a great read. So true. When I traveled in Thailand, I really had to learn to go with the flow. I ate what was put in front of me even though I was trying to order fried rice. When I was brought to the bus station instead of the train station, I figured it out. It really can ruin your experience when you bring negativity into the moment and that is essential for traveling. The world is a completely different place from someone else’s eyes and its so important to remember that. Thank you for this article!

  3. Claudia July 10, 2015 at 9:32 am - Reply

    Thank you for this post Earl. People who travel should really try to adapt a bit more and be more understanding of local customs. I have led group tours of up to 20 persons in Central America. I speak Spanish, so communicating and making myself understood is hardly an issue. But imagine having a group of 20 persons when placing an order at a restaurant, when everybody is talking at the same time, and then you have to translate the specific requests (aka not as in the menu) while others meantime have changed their mind and want to add/take out something else. Of course there are bound to be mistakes. And of course the 20 drinks are not going to come out all at the same time, and within 1 minute. It was hard having to answer questions such as “Claudiaaaa, where is my drink, I am thirsty!?” What I fail to understand is why people can’t relax a little when they are on holiday. What’s the rush anyways?

  4. grahame March 18, 2015 at 2:53 pm - Reply

    Hey Earl
    I didn’t read all the comments, good, bad or indifferent (way too many of them) but my heart does go out to you nevertheless. There will always be people, no matter where you come from or where you go, who will not always agree with your sentiments. That’s life and you have to accept the fact. But then again, after travelling for so long, you should already be aware of this. Just close the door and move on.

    On the other hand, it’s refreshing to read this from a South African perspective. We live in crazy times and for this I’m glad I travel on a South African Passport. These days, persons travelling on American Passport are more likely to be targeted than people like myself travelling on a passport from a country, very few people know a lot about. It has its benefits. Even when I travelled during the apartheid years, it made me stronger.

    I have now applied for a British Passport and the WORLD PASSPORT just in case I may need a little extra helping hand.

    Isn’t it ironic that we were all born free and “should” have the right to travel wherever we wish without restrictions, yet in reality we are actually born with shackles. The answer to this is right on our doorstep. If only we can open our eyes and see the light.

    • grahame March 18, 2015 at 2:58 pm - Reply

      Hey Earl
      This article was meant to go on your “How I Got Kicked Out Of Romania” but for some reason, your comment section was closed.

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  6. Craig B October 9, 2014 at 5:22 am - Reply

    Interesting article; I also have worked out that there is no point in getting cranky and carrying on like a pork chop when travelling. I have also worked out that if I’m in a bad temper for whatever reason while travelling, I am simply better off going back to my room, having a nap, and simply read a book and take it easy for the rest of the day, whether I’m in the backwoods of Mongolia or in a party town in Philippines. I always feel refreshed the next day, and am in a better frame of mind. Also, manners and a smile work wonders, and occasionally you just have to say ‘stuff it’ and accept the situation!

  7. Allie September 13, 2014 at 4:56 pm - Reply

    You can apply that to situations within your own country as well. If you’re in a line at a grocery store and everyone seems to be their most annoying just to make you angry, it’s a good exercise of empathy to wonder how everyone else’s day is going. Maybe the woman who can’t control her kids just got done with a 70 hour work week. Maybe the cashier was just dumped by his longterm girlfriend and that’s why he’s being slow and lethargic. Maybe the old lady with the billfold full of coupons is living on a fixed income. All you have to do is look at it all from a different perspective–AKA one other than your own.

    • Wandering Earl September 14, 2014 at 4:38 am - Reply

      Hey Allie – Well said. When we get upset and blame others, the chances are very high that what we perceive to be happening isn’t actually what’s happening in reality. Great comment!

  8. Vivian Randall August 19, 2014 at 3:07 pm - Reply

    I totally agree with you Earl, I think complaining all the time spoils the purpose of traveling and get new experience. Unfortunately many Americans love complaining hoping to get better service and customer service according to their own perspectives but this is wrong, we have to travel with an open mind to understand others and we really have to look only the good side of everything. One big mistake is taking everything personal or against us.

  9. Sarah Harvey August 14, 2014 at 3:38 pm - Reply

    Completely agree! Friends of mine are always complaining about one thing or another. It ruins everything! OK so your husband wants something he’s used to from back home. Well, he’s not in Kansas any more!

    Someone who gets hot and bothered about these kinds of things is probably having a hard time adapting to the new culture or environment, even just to a new way of doing things. That’s what travel is about, is it not?

  10. Brooks August 11, 2014 at 4:20 am - Reply

    Several years ago our “group” was traveling home. Our international leg of the trip home was cancelled. A new flight number was created and several hours later our flight resumed. Meanwhile, a few of us, myself included, were huffing and puffing and all upset and jumping all over the gate agent to the point we made her cry. One of our travel buddies was the oldest and wisest and after the dust dust settled, he gave me some very important words to live by, “Brooks, my friend, it’s only a delay. Don’t get upset. Don’t yell and scream. Make the best of it. You’ll live longer.” Weeks later, and back in my routine, his words hit me. To this day I have lived by his advice when traveling and it has made it that much more enjoyable. I only wish I could find that gate agent and apologize.

  11. Alejandra July 17, 2014 at 6:29 pm - Reply

    You are so right. I was with my husband in Luang Prabang, Laos and he had a bad time there at a restaurant. He’s from Spain, and use to have a beer with his meals always. He was so dissapointed that he never had a really really cold bear in any country of Southesat Asia that we visisted, the way he’s use to. So he got this not-so-cool beer in Laos and he ask the waiter to exchange it for a really cold one. The waiter gave a strange look to my husband, and brought another one straight from the fridge. Wasn’t that cool yet. So my husband got upset and the waiter offered some ice. This was the top that my husband could handle and ask him to cancel the dinner order, because he refuse to drink not cold beer and it would tastes worst with ice. The waiter refuse to cancel the dinner, he argued that they were already working on those dishes and my husband has to pay even when not eating and drinking. So my husband ask to talk to the manager… What!!? What do you mean?! Was the kind of looking that he got from the working family inside the kitchen, and from all the other occidental clients that were enjoying their dinner there. To me it was so annoying to see my husband’s reaction. And I see his point. But I tried to make him think that in that town, or country, or part of the continent, or culture, they don’t have exactly that structure conception of service, in the way he was requesting to be treated. He said, that I was wrong, because that town is visited by so many occidental people from all over the world who would already showed the same reaction and would probably expected to have satified their needs in a reasonable sense or had canceled the ordered without needing to pay for nothing.
    I don’t think people goes to Laos and makes all this heavy situation at a restaurant. Or does it happpens? Is it understandable? i felt like in the middle of to opposite forces. How should I know who was doing the right or wrong thing?

    • Wandering Earl July 19, 2014 at 5:22 am - Reply

      Hey Alejandra – That seems like quite an inappropriate overreaction to me. The coldness of a beer certainly isn’t anything to get so upset about, especially when in the middle of Laos and I’m quite sure that no so many people have had the same reaction. Having that kind of reaction just makes the gap between traveler and local even wider when all he had to do is politely explain his situation and why he wanted such a cold beer and he probably would have received a much better experience.

  12. Kathy July 9, 2014 at 12:39 am - Reply

    I hear ya! So many times we get upset for no real reason, unless it threatens your life there is no real point. Sometimes I find I get indignant at someone who is just rude, who doesn’t seem to follow a way that makes sense…. but then I stop and take a deep breath and realise what I am doing most likely doesn’t make sense to them either…. Travel has made me a lot more patient that is for sure!!!

  13. Paul Farrugia July 2, 2014 at 9:55 am - Reply

    Great post Earl. The more I travel the less I get angry in these situations. I just go with the flow and enjoy what life throws me and if its a delicious chicken taco even better! 🙂

  14. Adam June 30, 2014 at 12:35 am - Reply

    As much as it sounds like quackery, I believe in the law of attraction. So, what could being upset about things happening do except bring more things to be miserable about? So, therefore I think a positive mental attitude is key to having great experiences while traveling!

  15. Peggy June 28, 2014 at 9:39 pm - Reply

    Very true! Sometimes I get too caught up with my own world view and forget that every single person has their own perspective, formed by their own experiences, culture and history. Travelling helps remind me of this, through the exact challenges you have described.

  16. Tahlei's Travels June 24, 2014 at 11:40 pm - Reply

    Very wise words. I found it much easier to stay calm and avoid getting annoyed at silly little things while traveling solo, rather than with someone else. Most people are unfortunately prone to getting upset and it’s easy to be influenced by the attitude of those around you. Or maybe it’s just that my ex was a whinger and bad travel buddy!

  17. Karyn @ Not Done Travelling June 23, 2014 at 10:14 pm - Reply

    Ooooooh….this is a challenging one. 🙂 I absolutely agree, and I do always try to keep other peoples’ perspectives in mind, but I have found that it’s a lot easier to do in hindsight. If I’m at a vulnerable moment, such as being tired or having had a bad day, it can be downright impossible not to get upset when you come across a cultural difference like the examples you mentioned. However, like with everything that I’m learning on the road, I’ve found I just have to keep going. Keep putting one foot in front of the other, keep trying a little bit more to not get upset (especially in those vulnerable moments), and hopefully one day I’ll be a saint that travels the world in a constant state of peace not getting upset about anything at all. 😀

    • Wandering Earl June 24, 2014 at 12:16 am - Reply

      Hey Karyn – Well, nobody’s a traveling saint, that’s for sure. We all have our challenges and all we can do is, like you said, keep moving forward, trying to do the best we can.

  18. Katie June 23, 2014 at 2:27 pm - Reply

    Agreed! I am currently working on developing thicker skin as I occasionally find myself feeling frustrated over a situation that could be solved by a shift in perspective. Additionally, I find that when a shift in perspective can solve the “problem” it means that I am probably being self centered. So, two tips for more happiness: get your mind off yourself and develop thicker skin.

    Cheers,
    Katie

    • Wandering Earl June 24, 2014 at 12:17 am - Reply

      Hey Katie – Those are two good tips for sure 🙂

  19. Michael Glass June 22, 2014 at 1:15 am - Reply

    It’s one of those things that you really need to catch youself in the act to try and change the behavior. I find that when I am away and jetlagged after a long day of traveling, my fuse becomes pretty short with poor customer service. Hard one to fix but who needs negative experiences….. not me.

    Nice take Earl.

  20. Charles Rahm June 20, 2014 at 6:19 am - Reply

    I recommended the article on my blog. Really good one!
    I’m living in Thailand. And it totally scratched off all my edges. Now I only complain, when I think, it is important. 🙂 And I’m grateful for it. Because if you complain, you put yourself down and stay in a bad mood for hours. So unnecessary!

  21. Clelia June 17, 2014 at 1:48 pm - Reply

    This is exactly why people should travel more.
    Ok, I get it, in the beginning it’s difficult to change our way of seeing things. As you said, we think that our way is the only possible way to interpret the reality around us.

    During my years of wandering I had a few incidents with locals and only recently I started to see things in a different perspective.

    This article reminded me of a book I was reading, about positive thinking. The author is an old wise Italian lady, whose job is to mentally prepare high profile athletes for the most important sport competitions worldwide.

    Talking about attitude, she wrote about an episode when she just moved to Africa and was seriously annoyed by how long did it take to everyone to perform the easiest tasks.

    Well, after a few months of being annoyed, she finally got it. The heat was so intense that people HAD to slow down. As easy as that.

    Traveling the world, when done properly and with a willingness to learn is the best thing to open your mind.

    Very good article, and perfectly explained as usual.

    • Wandering Earl June 24, 2014 at 12:40 am - Reply

      Hey Clelia – That’s a perfect example and so often we think about a situation and can’t possibly see any other angle at all than the one we are viewing it from. But then, we suddenly learn about a different perspective that we never considered or could have ever conceived and in an instant, the situation makes sense and all of that frustration seems so unnecessary!

  22. Victoria June 17, 2014 at 1:11 pm - Reply

    So true Earl. Such a good post and so important to think about things from a different perspective. In fact, I was “talking” to another blogger about this just the other week, about the Indian experience.

    I wanted to go to the book market in Jaipur so that I could get books written by Indian writers. My rikshaw driver hadn’t understood what I wanted and took me to this shop and that shop. None of them books. And of course, by the time we came back hrs later, there was a huge queue. Nobody knew what to do apparantly and nobody knew what I actually wanted, and why I was upset either. Thinking about it, my driver was probably trying to help me by taking me to places where he thought tourist would like. Moreover, I’m a dark-skinned, British, dominant female, with a posh accent. No wonder, he didn’t know what I wanted. He was either intimidated or scared to death!
    Thanks for sharing Earl. 🙂

  23. Rebekah Voss June 17, 2014 at 8:09 am - Reply

    Great story Earl, and a great lesson. Before I came to Vietnam all I read online were stories of foreigners getting scammed and ripped off. If you enter a country with that mindset, you’re going to attract those situations to you – as you say, it’s all about having a positive attitude.

    And it works too – today I renewed my visa, the guy charged me $135 for three months, I paid him and went to lunch. While I was at lunch he called me and asked me to come back because “there was a problem with the money.” I didn’t freak out because I know better – I just had to go and see what the problem was before I got my undies in a bundle.

    It turned out that the “problem” was I had overpaid – and this honest, generous, upstanding Vietnamese man had called me back so he could REFUND me $67.

    • Wandering Earl June 24, 2014 at 12:35 am - Reply

      Hey Rebekah – Wow, that’s quite a positive story!

  24. Chris June 16, 2014 at 7:50 pm - Reply

    Best post in a long time!

    I know I’ve gotten frustrated (without any justification), simply because nobody around could speak English, and my own grasp of the local language was poor.

    Because English is so prevalent now, it makes us lazier travelers than we might otherwise be.

    I’m trying to learn Spanish at present, to rectify some of my own shortcomings!

    • Wandering Earl June 24, 2014 at 12:37 am - Reply

      Hey Chris – I agree with that definitely…the easier travel becomes, the more frustrated we get when things don’t go as expected!

  25. Gustavo June 15, 2014 at 8:46 pm - Reply

    Another great post!!!
    You know it’s true, most of the times we don’t even think about the reasons why other people get mad but as you said it’s all about perspective.
    I don’t really think neither the women nor the taxi driver meant bad, it’s justa a question of “I don’t understand what you’re saying and I don’t even know how say it to you”
    i think your reaction in both cases were great, congrats for such a possitive reaction.

  26. Able June 15, 2014 at 4:07 am - Reply

    “When you start to lose your temper, remember: There’s nothing manly about rage. It’s courtesy and kindness that define a human being – and a man.” – Marcus Aurelius

    =)) another great post!

  27. Steve June 15, 2014 at 1:42 am - Reply

    There are two versions of this. The first is the all too common arrogant traveler from the US / Europe / Middle East who expects everything be the same as it is where he comes from. So that coffee in Vietnam or ice cream in the Philippines really bothers him. The other though is the person from a more developed country who is actually correct but refuses to push the issue due to “tolerance.” Believe it or not, there are some universals. For example genital mutilation and honour killings are offenses against humanity, not a cultural quirk (the same that slavery in the US was wrong and not “local culture”). And delivering what is promised is right too. I don’t excuse a hired car showing up an hour late because “local culture” is lax. I don’t accept being sold lobster and given sea lice. And you shouldn’t either. You only makes things worse. You don’t have Tu get angry, but you don’t have to give in to lies, laziness, scams and mistreatment either, no matter where in the world you are.

    • Wandering Earl June 15, 2014 at 9:50 am - Reply

      Hey Steve – I think some things you just can’t compare and you might have missed the point. When we, the traveler, play a role in creating the situation (ordering in poor Spanish, asking dozens of questions that she doesn’t understand, etc.), then you shouldn’t get upset. But having your hired car show up an hour late has nothing to do with you or anything cultural…that is the driver showing up late. So they are very different situations.

      My point in the post is that we need to take a step back from time to time so that we can understand that we actually play a role in some of the situations that lead us to become upset. And once we can realize that, we can also see that there is therefore no point in getting upset at the local person. I didn’t say bringing the wrong food is a cultural quirk. I said that we overwhelmed the waitress by acting in ways that we would act at home…and that is a truth.

      There was no lies, laziness, scams or mistreatment at all on the part of the waitress.

      • Dan June 26, 2014 at 11:11 am - Reply

        ” But having your hired car show up an hour late has nothing to do with you or anything cultural…”

        It could be cultural.. or at least explained away as such. Especially in a place like the Philippines. Heard of “Filipino Standard Time”? It has gotten so bad that the president has launched a campaign to get people to be on time. Part of that included directing radio stations to stop announcing the time 10 minutes fast (an old ploy aimed at getting people places on time by assuming that they would be late).

  28. Petra June 14, 2014 at 2:47 pm - Reply

    I really don’t understand why you accept bad service so easily. What if there had been some vegetarians in your group? Or, worse, someone with a severe allergy to chicken?

    • Wandering Earl June 15, 2014 at 9:53 am - Reply

      Hey Petra – That’s the thing, you’re looking at it as bad service, which is the point. It wasn’t bad service. It only seems like bad service through our eyes. But once you look more closely at the situation, you see that there were many factors involved that created the situation and so it wasn’t what we thought. That’s the major difference that you seemed to have missed.

      But of course, a vegetarian can see that something has meat on it so they won’t eat it and order something different. And if someone has an allergy to chicken, I imagine they wouldn’t eat the chicken on the table!

      • Steve June 16, 2014 at 1:49 am - Reply

        Hi. I understand your post. I was responding as much to the comments here as that. I agree with you, especially when it’s our own fault, but I also see many soft pushovers traveling who accept getting ripped off and thus make it harder for the rest of us not to. Cheers mate.

  29. Club 3510 June 14, 2014 at 12:18 pm - Reply

    awesome, awesome article… I love traveling — and — I do manage a mountain-resort cafe/restaurant… and the foreign traffic here is a lot… and I really feel bad for my staff that are bombarded by questions, customizations, etc. amidst of jam packed customers to be attended… and sadly I already have a red flag list for specific nationalities that are prone to rudeness.

    there’s this certain ox tripe, skin, meat, and spicy sausages in thick tomato stew dish that Asians, Latinos, Hispanics, and Italians adore (some would claim that ours is the best or the second-best they’ve ever tasted). and to some nationalities, they would order this dish which of course too foreign for them (btw, our menu offerings have descriptions) and as soon as it was delivered, they go ballistic and sometimes would insult the dish. so now, every time that this dish is ordered, I would stop whatever I’m doing, I would approach the customer, respectfully ask their nationality, discuss the ingredients, and would ask them if they are pretty-sure about ordering it. it’s a painnnn… but for those who enjoyed and loved it, its worth the effort.

  30. fred June 14, 2014 at 7:31 am - Reply

    In poorer countries, locals often try to scam tourists in restaurants. It is good when you complain about it instead of just paying a little bit too much and avoid confrontation, otherwise you give the wrong signal: “it ‘s ok to be unfair because we are tourists and have a lot of money”

    • Wandering Earl June 14, 2014 at 9:38 am - Reply

      Hey Fred – That’s a bit of a generalization and not really too true.

      • Mike June 14, 2014 at 12:18 pm - Reply

        I agree…I can’t think of a single time where locals at a simple restaurant have tried to rip me off. The restaurants that are blatantly overpriced for deep pocketed tourists are generally very open about this fact. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know whether you’re eating in a touristy restaurant or a local joint.

        But back to the main topic of this post, it’s been interesting for me as the longer I live abroad the more I seem to have to remind myself of this. I often think that a decade overseas would lend me to being MORE and not less tolerant and patient, but seemingly I find myself getting frustrated more quickly than I used to. To be fair, it’s different living and working in a foreign land compared to backpacking around on an adventure, but I agree that it’s a good idea to remind yourself once in a while to relax a bit and not get stressed so quickly when customer service doesn’t match your expectations from “home”. (Also, a couple quick phone calls to the bank or an airline back home will quickly remind you that customer service where you’re from isn’t quite as friendly and helpful as you remember it to be.)

    • marsha ramsey June 14, 2014 at 9:56 am - Reply

      I was scammed last night at a very expensive restaurant here in the states last night!! …sure it was on purpose…I would rather be taken for 75 cents in a third world county by someone that is hungry than for $28 here when the person is not in need….I will get off my soapbox as I don’t think Derek wants his great posts to turn into debates over scamming….sorry, if you were taken advantage of — hopefully you can think that maybe you helped someone to buy some bread or beans that otherwise they wouldn’t be able to buy

  31. jazzy June 13, 2014 at 7:04 pm - Reply

    This is a well written post and I really enjoyed it, because at one point when I was explaining my traveling my plans to family and friends I couldn’t really fathom why so many people were against it. Then slowly I started to understand that in my culture and others, what I was doing and how I was traveling was not the norm or something people did. Just like that, I wasn’t angry with people that didn’t support or like my plans rather I began to understand where they were coming from

    • Wandering Earl June 14, 2014 at 9:39 am - Reply

      Hey Jazzy – That’s exactly how it goes and now that you have made that realization, your travels will be much more rewarding. And hopefully you’ll set the example so that your family and friends will eventually come around and see things from your perspective as well!

  32. Carolyn James June 13, 2014 at 2:09 pm - Reply

    The wanderer finds … that home is everywhere.

  33. Hannah Wasielewski June 13, 2014 at 11:13 am - Reply

    This is spot on! I haven’t had too many experiences yet where my food order was completely wrong, but I hate when people automatically assume it’s the local person’s fault for whatever happened to them. Maybe it’s not them that’s the problem, but the fact that most tourists expect people to speak English everywhere they go. I too have definitely chilled out over the years!

  34. Glamourous Traveller June 13, 2014 at 1:35 am - Reply

    Wonderful commentary! I tend to be faced with this a lot, especially here in Asia. Just because you don’t come from that country doesn’t give you the right to impose your beliefs on what is or is not acceptable. As you said, it’s much better to just try to appreciate it for what it is. Isn’t that part of the beauty of travelling?

    After all if you want things done only according to your ways, your customs, and your preferences, why travel in the first place?

  35. Lindsay June 13, 2014 at 12:13 am - Reply

    I find this kind of miscommunication happens all the time when traveling if you don’t speak the language, and if you go to several countries and aren’t amazingly talented linguistically, you’re bound not to speak the language most of the time! One of my favorite memories is when we were in Borneo. We were trying to catch a ferry somewhere, and had turned up to the wrong dock. Some guys convinced us without a word of English to go with them. We walked, with all our stuff, and finally got to an old, black, banged up car with fuzzy seats and a leopard print pad on the handlebars. If we were in the USA, I would have thought it looked like a drug dealer’s car. They wanted us to go with them. We were really sketched out, but after some persuading we got in. They then drove like madmen for about 10 minutes, I was getting really freaked out at this point. We had no idea where we were going at this speed. At last we turned up at another ferry pier just as the ferry was beginning to pull away. We made it, and the last thing we saw as we floated down the river were those guys standing on top of their junky car waving goodbye to us. They never even asked for money.

    • Wandering Earl June 14, 2014 at 9:41 am - Reply

      Hey Lindsay – There you go, there’s not much to stay about that story except that such surprises often happen while traveling, especially if we trust in those we meet.

  36. Anastasia June 12, 2014 at 3:19 pm - Reply

    Great post, we all should leave our supposition literally at home ad travel with the eyes open wide. We don’t have a right to judge, not a tiny bit. It’s our ignorance that often cause all the misunderstanding…..

    p.s In Kyrgyzstan people talk their own language, that has nothing to do with Russian. Usually only the oldest generation may speak it, but better not to hope for that;)

    • Wandering Earl June 12, 2014 at 9:49 pm - Reply

      Hey Anastasia – Thanks for the comment! And actually, in Kyrgyzstan, while most people do speak Kyrgyz, every single person I met during my 3 weeks there recently also spoke Russian. Russian and Kyrgyz are used interchangeably in that country!

  37. Amber June 12, 2014 at 1:59 pm - Reply

    I could not agree with you more! There is an endless number of perspectives to any given situation.

    While traveling in the states for work I come into contact with any number of people everyday and very few will understand my job as well as I do, but they ALL have their own perspective of what my job SHOULD entail and HOW I should complete my tasks. Often those who do not understand why I have to do what I do become extremely upset – I lost count of the rude hand gestures I have received over the years – when I do my job as it needs to be LEGALLY done. It sucks, I hate having to cause traffic delays. I understand the frustrations of others wanting to get home or to work, but my job – a pilot car – is to keep the public safe by preventing accidents and damage to property while my driver/father transports super oversized objects across American backroads. We try our best to not inconvenience the public. We try to get permitted from the state to travel roads we are familiar with to ensure a smooth trip. And we strive to always be professional at all times, knowing that our actions reflect our nook in society – though sadly, not many in my field understand what “professionalism” means in the 21st century. Those annoying preventive measures I have to take makes me look like a total dick to individuals who just want to get to their destination, but I at least know that no one was hurt in the process!

    I can’t say that I never get upset when someone who I may perceive as a “soccer mom” speeds by me after we completed particularly tricky turn with a 178′ long and 250 lbs wind turbine and then flips me the bird while mouthing some offensive statements – it’s hard not to take offense after awhile.. But, I still understand that THIS person does not understand what I am doing and most likely has a perception about my field and those I work with based on misguided information. And to be fair I can empathize why she would be frustrated based on my very limited knowledge of her, but I will never fully understand because I don’t know her.

    Great post Earl! looking forward to reading more 🙂

    Peace!

  38. Scott June 12, 2014 at 12:35 pm - Reply

    U D MAN EARL!!! 😉

  39. Rachel of Hippie in Heels June 12, 2014 at 11:47 am - Reply

    I agree with what you said about how one misunderstand action from a local can ruin not just our mood for that day, but our entire view of the city. I have a love/hate relationship with India, but it’s going on 2 years now and while I do still get ripped off all the time still, I no longer get upset about it. It isn’t an easy thing to get used to, but I’m glad I did or I wouldn’t be able to be happy here. I plan on learning Hindi this monsoon and think that will help IMMENSELY. Great post!

    • Wandering Earl June 14, 2014 at 9:43 am - Reply

      Hey Rachel – Being able to avoid getting upset can give you a completely different experience in any destination. Good luck with the Hindi, mine is terrible despite the amount of time I’ve spent there!

  40. Vickie June 12, 2014 at 10:25 am - Reply

    Use your will to peace, not to power.
    and your will to understand, not misunderstand.

    • Wandering Earl June 14, 2014 at 9:43 am - Reply

      Hey Vickie – Right on, well said!

  41. Johlet June 12, 2014 at 4:07 am - Reply

    Nice post! And very true!
    This happened to us in Paris. I ordered a Iced Coffee thinking I will get something similar to South Africa. Boy was I surprised haha. And I got upset. But then I realised I’m in a different country and I can’t expect my country to be the same as other countries. That will only cause for unhappiness and irritated moods. Instead now I know what to ask for next time I go to Paris / Starbucks. 🙂

  42. Katie @ The World on my Necklace June 12, 2014 at 3:08 am - Reply

    Spot on Earl, I do struggle sometimes to remember this but our travels would certainly be more enjoyable if we realise that everyone’s experience and perspective is different.

  43. Nick @ theboywander June 12, 2014 at 2:46 am - Reply

    Great post, I came across this in Varkala where we wandered into a restaurant as a group of 25 with no booking and people started to get upset when we had to wait a while for our meals. Restaurants back home would struggle to take on 25 people unannounced let alone a small restaurant in India

    • Wandering Earl June 14, 2014 at 9:45 am - Reply

      Hey Nick – That’s a good example but seems like you have the right perspective on things! Enjoy Varkala!

  44. Richelle June 12, 2014 at 12:39 am - Reply

    I love this post. I’ve been living in China for over a year now, and sometimes it’s too easy to get angry at the locals for being “rude”. Shoving past me, staring for uncomfortably long periods of time, almost running me over while running a red light and honking at me like it’s MY fault.. the list goes on and on. But then I have to remind myself: it’s part of the culture. Chinese people don’t find pushing and shoving rude and have much less of an issue with touching and personal space, staring at someone is merely expressing interest, and horns are just a way of saying “I’m not stopping! Don’t die!”. I can’t tell you how many times Now sometimes when I catch a person staring at me, and I smile and wave back, only to be met with a giant smile and a wave in return. It’s crazy how an experience like that can go from annoying to brightening my day, just by my own response.

    • Wandering Earl June 14, 2014 at 9:46 am - Reply

      Hey Richelle – It sure is quite a difference and all it takes is recognizing the fact that there are different perspectives to everything. Such a simple thing, yet such a major change in how we view a destination!

  45. Mike June 11, 2014 at 9:36 pm - Reply

    Another well thought out posting, and some advice I can probably use at times. Just take a breath and reflect before reacting is a great suggestion when facing unexpected surprises while traveling. As I think about my own travels, it is difficult to think of many situations where someone was truly trying to take advantage of a tourist although it does happen on occasion.
    One experience I’ll share is a time I wanted to purchase a lamp at a store, but they refused to offer it for sell. They were speaking Spanish so we had a hard time understanding why. But after a second visit, I finally realized they did not want to sell it because there was a small chip off the base of the lamp that was not even visible from most vantage points. In this case they were actually going out of their way to be fair. In the end, I was able to purchase it, and offered a higher price than they asked for as I was so refreshed by their integrity. Of course they refused to accept more…

    • Wandering Earl June 14, 2014 at 9:48 am - Reply

      Hey Mike – Thanks for sharing that story and it’s another great example of how misunderstandings and negative feelings so often arise out of situations that actually aren’t negative at all!

  46. Lauren June 11, 2014 at 8:52 pm - Reply

    What a wonderfully written post! It is so true, that sometimes we can be instantly negative or react to something in a bad way…when in reality, people are generally not out to get us. They are just trying their best. And what we might perceive as rude might be interpreted differently by locals. I think we must remember that we are visitors in other people’s homes/countries, and try to stay positive in situations that are new to us!

  47. This is so true. Great post, you explained it really well.

  48. shane June 11, 2014 at 7:50 pm - Reply

    You hit the nail on the head here Earl. I have always tried to stay positive and not get upset while travelling but sometimes it does get to me and i fail. When I was in Tibet a few weeks ago we always found it funny when our order turned up incorrect, everytime. But soon we came to the same conclusion as you. We were ordering food in english and they were trying to do the best they could. It was just a little awkward when chicken chowmien turned up and you are a vegetarian?

    • Wandering Earl June 14, 2014 at 9:49 am - Reply

      Hey Shane – Don’t worry, it happens to everyone and we all fail from time to time. That’s just being human but the more we recognize it, the less it happens and the better we feel during our travels overall.

  49. Jade June 11, 2014 at 7:38 pm - Reply

    This is such an important message! Sometimes it is so easy to be negative but it is such a drain in the long term to be such a way. Positivity breeds positivity and we should always try to remember that! If we react negatively to someone, there immediate reaction may be to react negatively back and thus we create a negative situation that was not there before..

    • Wandering Earl June 14, 2014 at 9:49 am - Reply

      Hey Jade – And that is not a good chain of events when the negativity starts flowing like that. So much better to have a flow of positivity of course and we are all in control of that.

  50. Sugar Plam Fairy June 11, 2014 at 6:27 pm - Reply

    Earl, I had a similar situation. And Julie Appleby, it’s not just the “Ugly American.” Ugly people come in all shapes from all cultures and countries and I was one of them. We tend to perceive a situation from our angle only and (over)react accordingly. In my case, it was a scribbled note from the waiter on my receipt that made me realize most people are friendly and would do their best to make our experience as good as possible.

    I had just moved to the USA and it was impossible to find good, strong coffee, even though the city I was (and still) living in is famous for its Euro invasion. Back then Starbucks was virtually non-existent, and McD’s version was just not acceptable. Finally, after days of roaming the streets in my new neighborhood, I found this gem of an Italian coffee shop known for its heavenly coffee. In that tiny shop where everybody knew everybody, seeing a stranger at the threshold was suspicious, at best. When the waiter came and I ordered “coffee,” he asked how I wanted my coffee. Surprised I repeated “coffee.” He smiled and again, asked how I wanted it. “How many different ways could one order a cup of black coffee so that he erased the puzzled look from his face?” thought I. But what was crystal clear to me, was not so clear to him (and anyone in his shoes). At this point I was wondering if he didn’t understand my English or was up for some fun at my expense. No, it couldn’t be my English and definitely, not his, so my frustration grew. Glad I had uncovered his plan to publicly embarrass me just because, I paused to gather my composure. Then I got this genius idea just to ask… what my options were. He continued loudly: “Milk? Cream? Non-dairy creamer? Hazelnut, vanilla, caramel, amaretto or Irish cream flavor? Or mixed? Sugar? Brown Sugar? Sweetener? Cookie? Wafer? Mint Chocolate with it? Whip cream? Regular flavor, strawberry or fat free? Cinnamon?” My head was spinning form all the choices. None of them on the menu. Coming from a culture/place where you order from the menu and don’t customize, or at least not without being charged additionally, it dawned on me: he didn’t want to put on a show at my expense. His only plan was to trick me into all these choices/toppings, so that he charged me more! That was his plan from the very beginning, but why did it take me so long to figure it out? I should know better. Still, he stood no chance against my detective talent. And so I said “no” and “no” to every question. Finally, he asked ” Just black coffee? Bold and strong.” In triumph I squeaked “yes!” He gave up. He couldn’t trick me. And sure enough, he brought me the best cup of coffee I had ever had!

    When my check arrived, he had written a nice note that he hoped I liked my coffee and I’d come back. On my way out I cringed at my own self: “Gosh, he was trying his best to ensure my coffee is exactly how I’d like it to be, not charge me more, embarrass me in front of the regulars, or make fun of my English!”

    Sometimes it is not just the language barrier or cultural differences. It is our ignorance and selfishness that prevent us from looking from another angle in order to understand the person in front of us. Stopping to pause and look around gives us new refreshing prospects of the world we never thought were out there. The waiter is now the owner and a good friend. He knows my coffee, but would occasionally bring it with a cinnamon stick, cookie and sugar on the side. Just to watch my reaction.

    Great post, Earl- might be one of my most favorite posts:) Curious how your order turned out? Lots of dark meat? Haha.

    • Wandering Earl June 14, 2014 at 9:56 am - Reply

      @Sugar Plum Fairy – Thank you for sharing that story of yours and everything you wrote is definitely true. It really is difficult for us to try and see a situation from a different angle, even if we want to at times. It’s amazing how our first instinct when something doesn’t fit our idea of how things should work is that the other person is trying to cheat us or take advantage of us in some way. It really is difficult to see things from a positive view at times but if we can focus on taking that moment to pause and look around, our brains can calm down a bit and understand things a bit more clearly!

      And the order was great…lots of great food in the end and we just kept eating everything that came to us!

  51. Felinda June 11, 2014 at 4:08 pm - Reply

    This is a good article. I never get upset or annoyed when i get my order wrong or when a taxi cab drop me off on the wrong street. I simple smile and thank them because i know that they were having a hard time understanding me. When i travel, i leave my beliefs behind and i always try to keep an open mind. I have seen visitors get upset for a simple things like that and it really makes me sad.

    • Wandering Earl June 14, 2014 at 9:50 am - Reply

      Hey Felinda – Seems like you travel with the right mindset and I have no doubt that you have endless positive stories to share as a result!

  52. Annette Havrilla June 11, 2014 at 2:54 pm - Reply

    Great Post! I think I do pretty well with this but there definitely are times… I will remind myself of this post and just chill out!

  53. Annette Havrilla June 11, 2014 at 2:20 pm - Reply

    When in Bangkok I ordered seafood curry. What he served me obviously wasn’t what I thought I ordered. I asked “Is this seafood curry?” He said yes, so I proceeded to happily eat it since it was tasty, whatever it was. A bit later he comes over with my seafood curry and takes the other, half eaten, dish away. Oh well, at least I asked. Lucky me I got to try both dishes…

  54. Julie Appleby June 11, 2014 at 1:16 pm - Reply

    Ah, the “Ugly American” is alive and well and traveling the world. As my host in India once told me: “You Americans want to travel but where ever you go you want it to be just like America. You demand hot water at any time, sit-down toilets, ice in your drinks, etc, etc. Europeans want the authentic experience of visiting a foreign country.” I hope your next tour group is more suited to international travel.

    • Wandering Earl June 11, 2014 at 1:23 pm - Reply

      Hey Julie – No, no, I wasn’t implying that the group wasn’t suited to international travel at all!! I was just pointing out that it’s natural for most people in the same situation to do the same thing, to start thinking from the one perspective we know how to think from. This group was an amazing group of travelers who truly wanted to experience Mexico as much as possible, eating at food stalls, wandering anywhere and everywhere, interacting with locals and on and on! Couldn’t have been a more open-minded group at all.

  55. Mzuri June 11, 2014 at 1:16 pm - Reply

    Provocative article.

    Possibly two of my most important learnings have been this:

    1. It is astonishingly difficult to give an answer to a *seemingly* simple question in one’s native language to someone who speaks very little of this language. So there are times when the only reasonable course is to provide a *seemingly* abrupt “yes” or “no” response to the questioner. I used to get frustrated in a non-English speaking country when I received such arbitrary, and, I thought at the time – rude – responses. I did a 180 on my perception when I was once asked a “simple” question by a non-English speaker and discovered how impossible it was for me to give the best answer because there’s no way the asker would have understood what would have been absurdly easy for me to explain to an English speaker. When I boiled my answer down to “no,” it was a light bulb moment.

    2. A long time ago, on a trip to the hinterlands of Ecuador, even though I “knew” that supplies of basic goods might be sporadic in developing countries, I didn’t *really* know it, meaning that I didn’t fully appreciate that a restaurant might only be serving meals if there were actually deliveries of necessary foodstuffs to the village. An unstable transportation system could result in a restaurant not serving food for several days. If the restaurant owner and I don’t have a common language, it can be easy to misinterpret seemingly abrupt statements like: *no food!* or “we’re closed!” when the place appears to be open.

    This doesn’t mean I haven’t had the occasional meltdown.

    • Wandering Earl June 14, 2014 at 9:58 am - Reply

      Hey Mzuri – Don’t worry, we all have breakdowns from time to time…it is hard to avoid overall! But you’re right about the communication…we will tend to interpret English as English or our native language as our native language if we hear it, without ever taking into account the difficulty involved with a non-English speaker trying to get their point across. Recognizing this makes a big difference!

  56. Steve C June 11, 2014 at 12:35 pm - Reply

    Earl, another topic that is bookmarked into my “travel philosophy” folder. You’d always have a job as a paid ‘international ambassador’, if there was such a position. Traveling or just living life back here on the block, we would all get along better if we just walked a mile, (hell, just 10 feet) in the other persons shoes. Expectations can sour any situation, anywhere.

    I’ve suggested it before, every traveler needs to read your blog. You always seem to come up with another “obvious” bit of travel advice. This one should be acknowledged before anyone hits the road. Smile and try to understand others point of view. I always try to understand myself, before I try to understand others.

    • Wandering Earl June 14, 2014 at 10:03 am - Reply

      Thanks Steve and you put it well when you said that we should stop for a minute and try to understand what it would be like to walk in another person’s shoes before we judge them or react. It only takes a moment for us to realize that there is really little to be upset about in the end if we can manage to do so.

  57. Alana June 11, 2014 at 12:26 pm - Reply

    So true! Whether at home or abroad. Thanks for this, Earl!

  58. Anita @ No Particular Place To Go June 11, 2014 at 12:02 pm - Reply

    Great post and a good reminder that travel is a learning experience: history, places, religions, cultures and people. I am always amazed when my husband has a completely different take on a situation or experience than mine and it’s a great reminder to try to see other points of view. When you add communication issues and language barriers to the mix it’s surprising how much goes right!

  59. Red Velvet Voyage June 11, 2014 at 11:51 am - Reply

    I couldn’t agree with you any more! Plus… what’s the point of being on vacation if you are going to get your panties in a wad & be upset about all the little things? When you go on vacation, don’t pack the Control Freak, leave him at home! I hope your meal was muy delicioso! ITs not fair for the places that we travel to if we are constantly comparing it to ‘back home.’ Isn’t that why we left in the first place, to get a different perspective! Keep Smiling! and sending the positive karma 🙂

  60. John Mayson June 11, 2014 at 11:36 am - Reply

    Sometimes my fellow travelers just amaze me. The poor chump at the airport gate or the one serving their drinks is somehow responsible for ruining their trip and their boss is going to hear about it.

    Stuff happens! And it’s been my experience if you’re nice to the people paid too little to put up with you, you’ll get results.

    • Wandering Earl June 14, 2014 at 10:01 am - Reply

      Hey John – Seems like a good approach to me. And I think that simple statement “Stuff happens” is also one that we tend to forget quite easily. In this complicated world it is simply unreasonable to expect everything to be just the way we want it all the time…it’s just not possible. Recognizing that and accepting it is a far better option than getting upset with everyone all the time when something doesn’t go how we expected it to go.

  61. Pamela June 11, 2014 at 11:30 am - Reply

    Oh yes! Sometimes because we are in a foreign place, the unfamiliarity could cause us to be insecure hence we start to use our own judgement to judge the whole situation. I too am guilty of passing my own judgement sometimes.
    Agree with you that we should not see things just from our own perspective, I am still reminding myself of that every time.

  62. Keyta June 11, 2014 at 10:59 am - Reply

    Love this article! It’s so true. Why let silly things ruin all the good things that happen on a holiday 🙂 🙂

    – Keyta

  63. marsha ramsey June 11, 2014 at 10:34 am - Reply

    Derek, I LOVE this post…so well said….I was imagining the restaurant “situation” with me there, and you, and some of our other travel friends actually enjoying how wrong the orders were and laughing about it !….. some of the best travel experiences are where you are led, or food you eat because of the language barrier — makes for good memories and experiences one would have never had if both people understood what each other was saying !….can’t (or shouldn’t) get upset in another country when they can’t understand us – have fun with it……I have traveled with “language charades” , as I speak no other language, and have enjoyed every adventure it has taken me on !!

    • Wandering Earl June 14, 2014 at 10:05 am - Reply

      Hey Marsha – That’s the right attitude, to accept all situations and turn them into positive experiences! Mix-ups, language barrier issues, miscommunications – if viewed from a positive angle can certainly lead to long-lasting memories and rewarding interactions with all those involved!

  64. Lydian June 11, 2014 at 10:30 am - Reply

    This is all so true! Wherever we go, we’re dealing with people who might have different customs, habits, backgrounds etc., but are -in fact – just normal human beings like us and I think we should respect these differences. It’s part of the fun of travelling or working or living in an international environment I feel. Personally I think I am pretty good at putting things in perspective and being patient with people, but of course sometimes I also fail with it, which brings me actually to the next point: why? Often there’s more to it, like you mention our own backgrounds and expectations, but also having bad vibes in a group already, being tired, frustrated because of something else (one grumpy person can spoil the fun for the rest), having different interests, insecurities and normal human (group) interaction contribute to this I believe. It’s not always that easy to immediately see what’s the cause for someone’s dissatisfaction, but it’s a good start to put yourself in the position of the other and than look if your reaction still makes sense. Thanks for the great read by the way!

    • Wandering Earl June 14, 2014 at 10:01 am - Reply

      Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts Lydian!

  65. Jeff Bronson June 11, 2014 at 10:21 am - Reply

    It’s easy to get annoyed about the little things, but as time goes on….it’s fruitless. I mean, in the grand scheme of things, one meal is insignificant, especially in the face of living a full life of travel.

    I’ve learned to pick my battles and let tons of small things go. Even on principle. If a local get’s charged $0.50 for something, and I as a foreigner get charged $0.75….so what, it’s still cheap and part of the overall travel experience!

    • Wandering Earl June 14, 2014 at 10:06 am - Reply

      Hey Jeff – Well said. Getting upset over paying a tiny bit more is another great example. The negativity involved with arguing and being angry just isn’t worth it in the end.

  66. Pal June 11, 2014 at 10:21 am - Reply

    As usual, you’re right and then I immediately have to add: I wish I could be as “zen” as you are and will in fact try to remember this now onwards. Not as I’m the angry type deep inside, but recently I feel that I get quickly annoyed, and I just hate it. Normally while not travelling I might need to add.

    If I’d try to explain it is that we live more and more in a culture where conflict is the norm, be it politicians on TV arguing about who’s ‘right’, or the hysteria around juicy scandals or even small things like not in business emails it’s “almost rude being polite”, if you know what I mean. Basically, add every-day stress to it and there we are, we’re fostering a culture of negativism and we take it around with us. No wonder it’s there when travellers don’t get their tacos abroad.

    Good to be reminded, hopefully we can all learn, take ourselves less damn seriously and just learn to chill… I’ll try too 🙂

    • Wandering Earl June 14, 2014 at 10:06 am - Reply

      Hey Pal – I still think there’s hope 🙂

  67. Hector Cortez June 11, 2014 at 10:19 am - Reply

    Very well put, Earl.
    I’ve came across with similar situations and sometimes try to explain it to others and realised that most of people never thought about it this way.
    I think we should always put ourselves in the other people’s situation before we start to make judgements.

    It’s always good reading your posts, man.

    • Wandering Earl June 14, 2014 at 10:07 am - Reply

      Thanks Hector!

  68. Kendal June 11, 2014 at 10:09 am - Reply

    Yes! Not even just while traveling. Sometimes it is just too easy to think everyone has the same perspective as you but no… we really have to put some effort into understanding others, sometimes!

    • Wandering Earl June 14, 2014 at 10:08 am - Reply

      Hey Kendal – You’re right of course, this doesn’t only apply to traveling. No matter where we are, we will always come across people with different perspectives and being able to recognize that is important, even while at home for sure.

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