He Said/She Said: Repelling Touts

He Said/She Said: Repelling Touts

We have been sold countless things that we don’t want and harassed to no end.  Touts are the worst and the best part of travelling, find out what we mean…

HE SAID…

Touts are the bane of my traveling existence.  There is nothing that annoys me more or more often, than touts.  Sometimes I think if I had just one wish it’d be to rid the world of touts.  Sure, there are some good parts about touts, but generally they are annoying and dishonest.  Luckily for you I’ve developed good systems for dropping touts like hot potatoes…

Speaking gibberish does wonders.  Speaking gibberish with words from other languages is even better.  But what works best?  Speaking gibberish using words they know.  For example, a taxi driver approaches you and you say, “Baba watermelon konichiwa po”.  Hearing “watermelon” and “konichiwa” words they know will leave their brain spinning on what you are saying.  If they follow you just repeat it and keep walking, their confusion will take their mind off why they originally approached you.

Saying “yes” will surprise touts so much they won’t know how to respond.  They spend their days hearing people say “no” in 1000 ways that they’re not used to people saying yes.  When I walk through a crowded market with people trying to get me to do something I just say yes to everyone and continue on my way.  The confusion saying yes causes not only entertains, but gives you enough time to escape any situation.  Next time someone is trying to sell you something just say yes without breaking your stride, you’ll find their harassment is minimized by giving them a positive answer.

This kind of creative marketing is much preferred to touts harassing us in order to win our business.

These two steps will repel most touts and vendors.  While I wish that repelling them wasn’t a necessary skill, it is.  Around the world people trying to sell you things have a lot more energy to chase me than I have to deal with them.  What I’ve learned is that confusing them with gibberish or saying yes buys me time to escape.

SHE SAID…

Wouldn’t it be great if modern backpacks had built in shit detectors to alert us to touts and repel them.  Alas, neither us nor our backpacks have superpowers so we rely on our wits to deal with peddlers around the world.  While most of the time touts  are the most frustrating part of any long bus journey every now and then they are helpful.  I dread getting off a train, bus or taxi when I know I will be greeted by a mass of salesmen that will tell me anything in order to get my business.  However, it’s only fair to tell both sides of the story and touts can sometimes be the easiest, fastest and yes, even cheapest way to a bed.

It is just as important to be aware of which touts to listen to as it is to know how to repel them when they give you a bad gut feeling.  There have been many a late night or very early morning arrivals to small towns where touts were extremely advantageous in making our way to a hotel room when we most needed sleep. There have also been times when we have not gone with a tout but benefited greatly from their information.  Often we get a clue as to what the price range of accommodation is as well as where the hotels are located, which is always useful.

In short, you should be equipped to pull out your sharp elbows and trust your gut in determining how to handle touts.  However, don’t completely write them off, especially when you’re in a smaller town or arriving during odd hours.  For me, people have been the key to enjoying this journey and sometimes those people are not friends at first.

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About the Author

LOCAVORista: A curious adventurer exploring the culinary delights and local traditions around the world. Currently on a 3 year round-the-world trip discovering amazing cultures, must-eats and off-the-beaten-track destinations.

About the Author
LOCAVORista: A curious adventurer exploring the culinary delights and local traditions around the world. Currently on a 3 year round-the-world trip discovering amazing cultures, must-eats and off-the-beaten-track destinations.
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