Travel pr0 tip #3: leaving touts elegantly behind you

Who doesn’t know this feeling: you’re exploring a place on the (very much) beaten path and every ten metres you are approached by a tout. Now, the five second pick up line varies by country but usually starts with “hello friend / brother” (my favorite being in the Philippines “Hello Ma’am-Sir”).
But no matter where, in most cases the following questions are asked (most likely in this order) to get you engaged in a conversation:

  • How are you?
  • How do you like [name of city]?
  • Where are you from?

If you don’t answer the first two questions you might be kind of rude (in case you care). But if you give an honest answer for number three, you’ve lost. Especially when you are European and answer with an honest reply, chances are very high that the tout will know a couple of phrases in your native language. And then you are in for the sales pitch… While some of the vocabulary of the guys is impressive, don’t forget, that is what they do all day long.

That is why started saying that I am from…. Finland! How many people do you know that can speak even a single word of Finnish? That’s right, me neither. And the same goes for touts. Another good one is Hungary, also a very unique language.

Saying you are from one of those places is usually met with a split-second of surprise, just enough to keep going at a brisk pace and leave the confused tout behind you. Voila, you’ve just skipped their sales pitch without even having been rude.

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