Day Tour Etiquette for Solo Travelers

Yaxchilan and Bonampak, México
November 2016

The tall young man ambles onto the tour van and plops down on a long double seat, draping his backpack on the open space beside him. At the breakfast stop, he is missing when it is time to depart, and everyone has to wait several minutes while the driver goes searching for him. He turns out to be standing by the road in front of the restaurant.

At the Yaxchilan ruins, he is quick to ask me to take his picture in front of the first building. He offers to take my photo, as is customary. A couple minutes later, he asks me to take another one. And as we get separated, he soon approaches others who came with us in the van.

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No Robotourism

“Let’s not be robotourists,” Karimé tells me from the outset of our trip to Argentina. “The first time I went to the Dominican Republic with my sister, she had this whole list of places we were going and when we were going to be there. It was too organized.”

You know the type, the people with the guidebooks and time tables — the marathon man in Vienna, the Rick Steves people. There are guidebook chapters and newspaper features that can map out how to spend 48 hours in Lisbon, Melbourne, or Paris. Some people follow them to the letter. You will have a dulce de leche at 8:35 a.m. at Cafe Broussard. Lunch at Le Monde along the avenue for ideal people watching. Climb the clock tower in the late afternoon for a magnificent sunset over the city.

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