Insider’s View: Locals Weigh in on the Top Dos & Don’ts in 10 Cities

Travel Tips — By Nicole Lerner on October 19, 2009 at 12:25 pm

Want to feel like a local, no matter where you travel? Get the inside scoop from our team of local experts on what to avoid and what to do in 10 of the world’s best vacation spots, from Boulder to Barcelona.

1. Istanbul:

  • Don’t cross the street without looking at your left, right and then left again. There is no custom among the driving population of Istanbul to slow down when they see a pedestrian crossing.
  • Do cross Bosphorus with the ferry at least once. Better if you could rent a fisherman’s boat or water taxi and personalize your time.
  • Do climb some tower, terrace or roof top in Istanbul to enjoy a 360-degree view of the city. Do it separately day and night.

2. New Orleans:

  • Do protect your purse or wallet in the French Quarter.
  • Don’t call the streetcar a “trolley” or pronounce New Orleans “New Orleens.”
  • Do check out the nightlife beyond Bourbon Street.

3. Barcelona:

  • Do invest in “guide-headphones” when visiting the Miro museum… it helps.
  • Don’t let your bag out of sight or out of touch; petty theft is rampant in the city.
  • Do go out of the city for the best beaches and respect the local bikini fashion.
  • Don’t go to the Boqueria for a night tour unless you are looking to see prostitutes in action.

4. London:

  • Don’t speak too loudly. Brits keep their voices low.
  • Do remember to layer. In this nautical climate, you’ll enjoy three seasons in one day.
  • Do purchase an Oyster card. Taxis in London are pricey, and an Oyster card saves big money on the local transport system.

5. Edinburgh:

  • Don’t ask for relish or even vinegar at the chip shop, it is strictly salt and sauce.
  • Don’t say you prefer Glasgow over Edinburgh in any way, a jovial rivalry may see you on the sharp end of a local’s tongue.
  • Do wear a kilt. In the city you will find tartan isn’t just a gimmick, match days, during festivals and even on nights out, kilts are a popular choice.

6. Orlando:

  • Don’t wear flip flops all day at the theme parks. Not only will you be sporting filthy feet with funky tan lines, your lower back will be crying out for a massage.
  • Do eat the DOLE pineapple ice cream located over by Disney World’s Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
  • Don’t travel on Interstate 4 between 3pm and 6pm if you can avoid it… traffic is mayhem
  • Do check out Orlando’s downtown area. The walk around Lake Eola is lovely and there are plenty of great restaurants and shops to visit

7. Tokyo:

  • Do chat with the locals. Chances are, they want to practice their English.
  • Don’t photograph Harajuku’s gothic lolitas without asking for permission first. They’re more dangerous than they look!
  • Don’t feed the sumo wrestlers.

8. Amsterdam:

  • Don’t take pictures of the women working in the Red Light District. In fact, don’t even take out your camera or it might end up at the bottom of a canal!
  • Don’t walk on the bike paths. Cyclists will not stop for you under any circumstances.
  • Do take a stroll along the canals – both by day and by night.

9. Prague:

  • Do look each person in the eye and say some version of Na Zdraví, Nazdar, Ahoj or Čau when you make a toast.
  • Do greet shop owners, barmen, receptionists and strangers in elevators as you enter (dobrý den/večer) and leave (na shledanou).
  • Don’t be too loud on public transport; Czechs tend to prefer their trams and buses quiet. If someone gets on with a stroller, move out of the back of the tram (or the space in the middle of the bus) because this is the designated area for prams.

10. Boulder:

  • Don’t ask a Boulderite which way the cardinal directions are — the mountains are west and it’s believed you should know that. (And after you know one direction, the rest should be pretty easy to figure out!)
  • Don’t drive past a pedestrian or biker waiting to cross the road — especially at a crosswalk.
  • Do bring a sweater to wear at night during the summer, even if it hits 100 degrees during the day. Boulder is semi-arid, so there can be a 50-degree temperature differential between day and night!

Want more insider’s scoop? Check out our guest post on for our take on the top dos and don’ts in ten more cities! Have some inside scoop to share? Leave us a comment and let us know!

[Photos: In order of appearance, David Spender; Rande Archer; WordRidden; apdk;  MariMcCann; Allie_Caufield; ehnmark; David Silverline; Restless Globetrotter/All Creative Commons]

Tags: Amsterdam, Barcelona, Boulder, Edinburgh, inside scoop, Istanbul, local experts, London, New Orleans, Orlando, Prague, Tokyo


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