I recently observed a twitter chat on travel hacking (without participating). As far as I understand it, travel hacking is about using all kinds of tips and tricks to travel as cheaply as possible. Inherently there’s nothing wrong with that approach, of course, unless ‘cheap’ starts superseding everything else at the cost of basic human decency.

To be fair, Twitter is a somewhat out-there way of communicating and much may be misunderstood when you only have 140 characters to bring your point across. So I’m going to focus on two tweets that jumped out at me and give the others the benefit of the doubt.

travel hacking

Maharashtra, India

The first tweet:
One person explained how he/she pretends to have lost all money/papers to hitch free rides with locals. He/she added that you should, of course, give your benefactors a little something when you part.
Pretending you’re a stranger in need and taking advantage of the kindness of others just to avoid paying a few extra dollars? There are many ways to travel cheaply using local means of transportation. There really is no need to be deceitful.

The second tweet:
It was meant to answer a question about how to best connect with people residing in the country you’re visiting. One person suggested learning to compliment the shape of another person’s mouth in the local language because ‘locals like compliments’. I don’t even know where to start on this one. First of all, that’s not a compliment, that’s a catcall. Unless you and I are intimate, keep your thoughts about the shape of my lips to yourself. Then, ‘locals like compliments’? Uhm…who doesn’t?! How about a little more respect & genuine interest and a little less condescension? It seems like a perfect example of someone traveling with their own preconceptions and then imposing them on someone else.

I haven’t linked to the original tweets here because the idea is to discuss and question behavior, not to point and shame. I think we would do well not to confuse a carefree attitude with unethical behavior, or actual communication with imposing assumptions.

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