Advice for Travel and Life

Vagabond Tim

I keep getting questions about local laws, customs, and so on. Most of the time it is because people are overly worried about something far too specific to write about.
I wish people would just leave comments instead of emailing me or using social media to message me but…

Cultural norms are often unspoken and confusing but usually they are just the product of a group of people all following a rule set like the one I wrote below.
Laws and Religions are on the other hand intended to manage the herd, they aren’t really intended for the individual and often make no attempt to consider the actual circumstances of a particular case.
The times when normal and legal do not agree can be frightening (War on drugs) or disgusting (public urination all over SE Asia… Which by the way is really not cool guys, you should stop doing that)

I am trusting that you, the person reading this, are able to make simple decisions on your own so use your own judgement whenever possible. Although sometimes you have to avoid something ridiculous for absurd reasons… alcohol in Bangladesh or ham and cheese sandwiches in Israel for example.

4 Rules to avoid being a dick.

1. Don’t do intentionally annoying things. (Knock on my door at 8 am to talk about Jesus, or vacuums)
2. Stay out of the way unless you are actually asked to help. (That is called interfering)
3. Don’t permanently alter things unless you own them. (Graffiti is temporary, a fire is not)
4. If you don’t agree with something someone else is doing, consider 1-3 if it isn’t breaking them

These are just my personal rules for living, more often than not they line up with laws and so on, but that is purely by coincidence. When they don’t line up, I make sure no one is watching and do whatever I was planning to do in the first place.

I have very, very, rarely had anyone actually become irritated by unintentional things like standing chopsticks up in a bowl of rice. Mostly they just ask you not to or tell you why they don’t. Try to pay attention to these short conversations and follow the four rules above and you will be fine.

Worrying about local laws and customs can make you insane just don’t be a dick and you will have a much better visit to whatever godforsaken land you decide to subject yourself too.

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