American Nomad Blog
About this blog
American Nomad covers the best of U.S. travel—from vacation deals to festivals, weekend getaways, travel tips, and more. A seasoned traveler and Moon author, Laura is the perfect guide to help discover new gems when traveling domestically.
- A Southern Girl's Wintertime Adventure in Yellowstone
- One Novelist's Odyssey Across America
- Gearing up for a Family Camping Trip
- Mint Juleps and More at Oak Alley Plantation
- Avoiding Identity Theft While on Vacation
- Money-Saving Travel Tips from Nomadic Matt
- Fashion, Fun, and Convenience for the Modern Traveler
- In Search of Irish Museums Across America
- The Inspiring Journey of a Solo Kayaker
- Getting Fit for Treks in Yosemite and Elsewhere, Part 2
- Getting Fit for Treks in Yosemite and Elsewhere, Part 1
- Experiencing Yosemite with YExplore
- Two Travel Contests Worth Mentioning
- A Word About the TSA's No-No List
- A Reader's Advice About Airport Security
A Guest Blogger's Perspective on Locals Versus Tourists
Over the past 29 months of maintaining this blog, I've mentioned my husband's name innumerable times. After all, for more than a decade, Dan's been my constant traveling companion (and invaluable co-photographer), and frankly, I couldn't have imagined experiencing unique places like Hollywood's Magic Castle, Arkansas's Crater of Diamonds, and the Florida Keys without him. Not only is it more fun to explore the highways, byways, landscapes, and landmarks of America with your best friend; it's also more educational – and often more enlightening – to travel with another person's perspective in mind.
Admittedly, we see eye to eye on plenty of travel-related issues, but sometimes, one of us can be more passionate about a particular subject. With that in mind, I've invited Dan to share his point of view on a hotly debated topic in tourism-dependent locales: how to balance the needs and wants of residents and visitors... and keep one faction from driving the other crazy.
So, here, without further ado, is a helpful public service message from my hubby:
I'm in a unique position. I'm a travel writer and photographer who happens to live in a tourist area (the French Quarter in New Orleans), so I can see both sides of the story when it comes to the battle between locals and tourists.
On one side, you have tourists who are visiting a location (often for the first time), spending their money, and trying to get everything they possibly can out of a short span of time. On the other side, you have locals who, despite what many tourists seem to believe, don't all make their living from tourism and often just want to be left alone or, in the very least, able to live in their neighborhoods without interference.
The locals' complaints really come down to three qualms: making too much noise, creating too much trash, and taking up too much space. Locals get angry, for instance, when intoxicated people venture away from the main thoroughfare, into more residential areas, while maintaining the same alcohol-induced volume. In addition, while most tourist destinations have a trash problem – which comes from having so many visitors trampling through the area – there's no need to add to the problem by tossing cups, food wrappings, or cigarette butts onto the ground. And finally, even if there are four people in a given group, it's not necessary to walk four abreast, causing a foot-traffic jam.
Just yesterday, in fact, I suffered a double-whammy while walking on Royal Street. A group of six people was strolling along, literally taking up the whole sidewalk. While stopping to take pictures, and unfortunately still blocking the entire sidewalk, two of them tossed their cigarette butts on the ground – no more than five, yes, FIVE feet from a trash can.
Of course, tourists have their own beefs. When a person chooses to live in a tourist area, for instance, there's no need to be rude to tourists who simply ask questions about the area. Also, residents should remember that tourists are probably unfamiliar with a given area, so it's unkind to mess with them by sending them off in the wrong direction. Yes, I've seen people do this here in the French Quarter, in Chicago, and in Las Vegas. While some locals might find this funny, it can be downright dangerous to send a person off the beaten path. In Chicago, for example, I once stopped a couple on Division Street from heading into the projects after a mean local had purposely given them the wrong directions.
To keep the peace, there are some simple rules to follow whether you're a tourist or a local.
Tourists: Follow the same rules you're asked to follow when you go into a national park... leave no trace behind. Respect people's privacy and their right to a reasonable level of quiet. In addition – and this rule also applies to ALL holiday shoppers – treat all walkways, sidewalks, and trails as if they were highways. In other words, keep traffic moving.
Locals: Since you choose to live in a tourist area, remember that your behavior reflects on the location itself. Be pleasant and helpful, and for heaven's sake, smile on occasion. While you may not depend financially on the tourists visiting your area, many people in your neighborhood do, so try not making it more difficult for them.
Ultimately, whether you're a traveler or a local, you should follow the philosophy of the ever-wise Ted “Theodore” Logan and Bill S. Preston, Esquire: Be excellent to one another, and your travel destination or your home will be a much happier place.
So, what's your take on this ongoing debate? Do you live in a tourism-dependent city or region? Have you ever traveled to a place that also served as someone's home? If so, do you have any additional advice for being a respectful – and grateful – tourist or local?
P.S. And, of course, if you've never seen Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure – the film that Dan referenced near the end of his post, do yourself a favor and rent it right away. It is, after all, an entertaining flick about time travel – the ultimate experience on my travel wish list!
As always, I’m open to ideas for future posts. If you have any suggestions, burning questions, or destinations that you’d like me to explore in greater detail, please comment below or contact me via laura [at] wanderingsoles [dot] com.
Disclosure: While I occasionally accept free or discounted travel assistance when it coincides with my editorial goals, my opinion is never for sale, which means that everything written in my American Nomad blog and Moon travel guides is my unbiased reflection of the things that I see, do, and experience while traveling across the United States.
Photo © 2011 Daniel Martone / Text © 2011 Daniel & Laura Martone