As a tourist, you don’t have to be annoying

As a tourist, you dont have to be annoying

Gionna Bean

Once I got off the train and went out into the city, I probably looked like a crazy person. I was wearing dog-fur-covered black sweatpants, which was not the best style choice. Being sleep-deprived, my eyes were tired slants, blinking out at the world in the way a confused puppy would. Nevertheless, I was excited to start exploring the city. 

   My family surprised me with a trip to Chicago for my birthday. Keep in mind: my family rarely travels so when I opened the box filled with a VISA card, Chicago t-shirt, and a card outlining what places to visit, I was elated. 

   We left the train station at around 6:45, guzzled our coffees on the train, and got to the windy city at around 9:00. 

   My sister, always peppy, started taking pictures from the get-go. The enthusiastic picture-taking continued tirelessly throughout the trip. Most Chicagoans are such nice and helpful people, so of course they were forgiving of her absurd behavior. I personally tried to avoid looking like such an obvious tourist. 

   As I and other Holland residents know, touristy behavior can be annoying. They walk around with cameras flashing at everything. They’ll buy anything, even if it costs a fortune. Worst of all, they never seem to know how to use Google Maps, instead, they have to ask around for directions.

   Here are my top three ways to avoid becoming one of these monsters.

  1. Don’t stare

   First of all, when I got out of the train station the citizens of Chicago were probably wondering “Who is this dog-fur-covered 16-year-old staring at a pigeon, like she’s never seen one before?” To be fair, I haven’t seen a pigeon before. I also didn’t think they would be so fat. Apparently, in Chicago, they are. The thing could barely get off the ground, and the urgent jutting of its head indicated that even walking was hard. 

   That brings me to my first suggestion for how to not look like a tourist: don’t stare. The Active Times, a newspaper that publishes opinions from experts on travel and health states “Whether you’re in a new city or your local supermarket, staring is rude. Cultural differences can alter someone’s standard clothing or food choices, but goggling at anything that is new to you is inappropriate.”

   Staring usually implies that you have never seen something before. Especially in my case, this can be annoying to locals who see engorged pigeons on a regular basis. 

   Once I found out that giant pigeons were a regular occurrence in Chicago, I was a little embarrassed about my initial reaction. I bet the locals were even embarrassed for me.  

  1. If there’s a subway, try to blend in

   Subways are where Chicagoans go to have a quiet commute to work or stores for running errands. This form of transportation gets them to their destination quickly, and they usually don’t want that time interrupted by a group of annoying tourists. 

   As my family and I got on the subway train, it was obvious that we were tourists. We looked so happy, while everyone else was in their “I just had two coffees and I can’t be bothered” mood. 

   Not everyone on the train was moody though; one man sitting next to my dad offered us a pack of gummies. As a child, I was advised not to take food from a stranger so I refused. My grandma, on the other hand, politely accepted the pack.

   The rest of the train was in a sullen mood though; everyone in their own head. I felt that we stuck out like sore thumbs: we were a family while everyone else was riding solo, and we made eye contact with people and actually talked to each other.

   If you’re going to ride a train, act like everyone else and just stay silent if you don’t want to look like a tourist. 

  1. Don’t spin through revolving doors more than once

   My sister was notorious for spinning around in the revolving doors multiple times on our trip. As I said before, she is a peppy, excitable person so of course, she was enamored with revolving doors

   I asked my dad about the doors and he explained, “Since there’s always a pair of doors closed, it keeps the cold air from coming in.” I thought this was pretty smart. Not only are they super fun, but they’re also very functional.

   For Chicagoans, revolving doors are typical. As my sister came into each place going around the doors like a lunatic, onlookers probably watched with exasperation. 

   As many know who have been to the city, watching someone run around and around in revolving doors is annoying. Usually, people are in a rush and aren’t entertained by this. 

   Please don’t keep spinning through these doors, even if it’s so much fun. This will only make you look like more of a tourist. 


   Being a tourist is fine as long as you don’t annoy the locals. Locals in Chicago are not interested in what you stare at. They are not interested in the boring transportation they use every day. They most definitely are not interested in the revolving doors that they see at almost every store. Don’t bother these poor people with touristy ways. As the famous shirt from “What About Bob” says, “Don’t hassle me I’m local”.