While traveling you are almost always relying on the kindness of people who are native to the country you are in. They might give you food, advice, directions, a place to sleep, or a ride along the way. It is important to say thank you to these folks of course, but it makes it more special when you say it in their language. That’s why when I arrive in a new place I always learn how to say thank you.
While traveling through Asia, I found that in Asian cultures a head nod with your hands in prayer is part of giving thanks to someone. In Thai this gesture is called a wai and can be done in three different ways depending on who you are talking to. It is a wonderful expression of gratitude and I really wish I could pull it off in the States without looking like a total hippie weirdo. One of the great things about the wai is that if you forget how to say thank you in the native tongue you can just use your hands. It’s foolproof.
I am by no means the manners police, but it makes me sad to see simple thank-you’s abandoned. I am still a snail mail kinda gal who adores making and writing thank you notes. I don’t expect everybody to be this way and when it comes to travel, hand written thank you notes are not only difficult, but also a little excessive sometimes.
I am writing this post because I would like thank-you’s to be pumped back into our fast paced lives. I recently spent over an hour writing travel advice to an old college friend who requested some tips regarding countries I had been to, and still have yet to hear a response three weeks later. I don’t mind giving travel advice, in fact I really enjoy it. Writing those kinds of emails or having those types of conversations lets me relive my adventures, but I don’t like wasting my time. Most people out on the road feel the same way.
Let them know that their effort and time spent helping you is appreciated. Thank them as best you can in their language and maybe share your blog address or web photo gallery address with them. If they gave you advice on where to go, maybe ask for their email so you can send them a thank you after you’ve gone there. People love to know that what they did helped you. Unfortunately, people also become jaded really quickly when rude and assuming tourists make bad names for the rest of us. So do your duty and mind your manners please. It will make someone’s day, I promise.