Traveling more than 10 miles under the speed limit, coming to a dead stop in a 40-mph lane to take a picture, improper use of roundabouts or asking where to see red rocks while standing at Red Rock Crossing are habits of visitors that have at some point driven nearly every Sedona resident crazy.
We live here. We see the beautiful landscape day in and day out on our way to work, school or the store. We’ve already slowed or stopped to admire the landscape, and when we’re in a hurry, we sometimes forget how we reacted the first time we stumbled into red rock country.
Every tourist town is the same.
Something about the town — natural beauty, arts, culture — draws people in to live.
That same force in turn attracts visitors.
A “tourist trap” can only function if the bait is good.
When I lived in Jackson Hole, Wyo., locals expressed similar irritation with visitors, even though they all knew those “tourons” paid their salaries.
Traffic would back up for miles heading into the town square, people crossing busy streets neglected to find a crosswalk and tourists would ask, while standing directly in front of Wyoming’s natural wonder, “Where can I see the Grand Tetons?”
Living in tourist towns, however, gives us an advantage while traveling to another — we know what not to do to anger the locals.
I recently returned from the island of Kauai in Hawaii where my husband and I spent the week enjoying ourselves while not irritating the islanders.
In fact, we made friends with a group of native Hawaiians while hovering under a beach shelter on a rainy day.
They told us stories about their families, how they make a living in the small island towns and what visitors do to drive them crazy. Then they fed us local cuisine cooked on the beach barbecue.
They felt comfortable sharing their home with us because we didn’t storm in camera clicking and brake lights flashing, blocking traffic. We took our knowledge of typical tourist behavior and did our best not to let the bad shine through.
Sure, we came back with tons of photographs and visited several tourist traps, but we did so in a respectful manner to those who call Princeville, Lihue, Kapaa and Hanalei home.
We also welcome visitors into our beautiful backyard, but respectful guests make hospitality much easier.