Backpacking sounds awesome, and we all want to do it at some point. Roughing it out while traveling to exotic places or destinations with virtually no human footprint.
Then we hear these backpacker stories from locals who had to deal with their behaviour and lack of manners. We suddenly realise that while we’re romanticising their travels, some of them are actually annoying to contend with.
No, I’m not going to discourage your from backpacking through Malaysia, but at least heed my words so you can avoid getting into trouble.
Don’t haggle too much
There’s haggling, and there’s ripping off the seller. The best thing to do is shop around little boutiques and shops is to canvas for prices. Go around and get an idea of how much an item is. If you must haggle, make sure to know what the lowest price the seller is willing to sell it for first.
Remember that they need to earn a profit per item that they’re selling, so cutting down the price to 50% is unfair to the seller. Their lowest offered price is most likely going to be the last price you’ll get. If it’s still too much for you, go to another stall or wait until closing time since prices usually drop when they’re about to pack up.
Don’t try too hard not to look like a tourist
While in most cases, not looking like a tourist may help to keep you safe, some backpackers go the extra mile with it.
They’ll wear local garments instead of their own clothes, which may be problematic. Some garments have meanings to them, from the way it’s worn to the colours you’ve chosen. Wearing their clothes without someone to help you, and indeed, without their permission is cultural appropriation.
Some would also avoid the popular destinations, thinking that those are tourist traps. Well, there’s a reason why they’re all popular. Not visiting these because you want to be a cliche traveller completely defeats the purpose of going to abroad in the first place.
Don’t forget your manners
Worryingly, a lot of backpackers think that being a foreigner excuses them from some of the customs in a country. Remember that proper behaviour is free, and a displeasing attitude may cost you dearly.
Before leaving, make sure you’ve researched your destination. Find out what you’re not allowed to wear, practice, and even mention.
While you’re studying, try to learn some of the local phrases for “please”, “thank you”, and other greetings.
Don’t be loud picky eaters
If you’ve got allergies, avoid the food that’ll kill you. If you have strict dietary needs, then order only what you can eat.
However, if you keep going on and on about gluten or dairy and why people shouldn’t eat it, then you’re going to antagonise a lot of people. The best option is to keep mum about your diet if it isn’t a life or death thing.
Don’t be too isolated in the hostel but not too comfortable
Make friends. Most of you in your Johor Bahru accommodation are backpackers, too. Exchange some stories with them, recommend places, and ask for advice.
What you don’t want to do is be too comfortable. By that I mean asking them to use their towels, hanging your clothes by their bedside, and so on. Just like how you want your parents to give you space, do the same thing for strangers you’ve just made friends with.
Don’t be a parody of a backpacker by falling into the traps of what makes one annoying to deal with. Keep these things in mind to make it a fun experience for you and the locals who want to entertain you.