We asked the 10 experts in our article, "Scouting Report 2008," to reveal their hard-earned lessons on tourist etiquette, approaching local cuisine, packing, and more. Here's how these travel pros responded.
Regional manager of Asia and Africa trip operations for Backroads, which specializes in multisport tours (backroads.com).
On packing "...always bring a headlamp and a dry bag, no matter the trip."
On etiquette "It's obliviousness that's offensive, as it calls into question your motivations for travel."
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Scouting Report: Graskop, South Africa
Cofounder of Melbourne-based Intrepid Travel, which specializes in small-group, experiential tours around the world (intrepidtravel.com).
On getting around "I always take a business card from the hotel with its address in the local language and writing."
On airplane attire "I wear the same thing whether I'm in economy, business, or first class: jeans, a pair of runners, and a T-shirt."
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Scouting Report: Purnululu National Park, Australia
Philippe de Vienne
Cofounder with his wife, Ethné, of Épices de Cru, a spice importation and retail business based in Montreal, Quebec (epicesdecru.com), and coauthor of the cookbook La Cuisine et le Goût des Épices.
On etiquette "Buy something that you may or may not need. When you buy from people, they're always more talkative about themselves and their country. Listen to them, and never ask a leading question."
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Scouting Report: Gaziantep, Turkey
Tour leader, producer of shows for television and radio, writer of a syndicated travel column, and publisher of over 30 guidebooks via his namesake company (ricksteves.com).
On jet lag "I deal with jet lag by leaving home well rested and then using a quarter tab of Ambien when I wake too early, to finish the first night's sleep."
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Scouting Report: Moravský Krumlov, Czech Republic
Cofounder of BKWine, a Paris-based company that publishes wine newsletters and leads small-group gastronomy and wine tours throughout Europe (bkwine.com).
On attire "For a wine tour, you need to have comfortable shoes because you always walk in vineyards. You also stand a lot in cellars, which are cool, so you'll need a jacket. And you shouldn't wear white clothes. It's hopeless."
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Scouting Report: Bergerac, France
Founder of the Grateful Palate, an Oxnard, Calif.-based company that sells specialty foods and kitchen accessories, imports wine, and even runs wineries in Spain and Australia (gratefulpalate.com).
On attitude "You'll forget everything once, including your passport. You think to yourself 'I'll never travel without underwear,' but then you forget it, and you get by. You just go shopping."
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Scouting Report: Willunga, Australia
Armenia Nercessian de Oliviera
Cofounder of Novica, a National Geographic-associated organization with eight international offices that enables local artisans around the globe to sell their crafts over the Internet (novica.com).
On packing "I pack at least half a dozen attractive shawls, for example, that are suitable for different occasions. Wearing them can replace the need for five entire outfits."
On street food "When the foods are prepared fresh right in front of you, and when you can see that any perishable ingredients are indeed stored, handled, and cooked well, and if many locals are also eating right there, then I say, 'Go ahead, enjoy!'"
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Scouting Report: Chapada dos Veadeiros, Brazil
Nat and Rachael Lopes
Cofounders of Hilride, a mountain-bike park and tourism consulting firm that's based in Berkeley, Calif. (hilride.com).
On traveling as a couple N: "We've learned not to underestimate the power of sleep deprivation and hunger while traveling with a partner. If you're hungry, you can be cranky." R: "And the power of sitting in the backseat. I might drive while he works in the back, and that extra three feet creates space."
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Scouting Report: Wilson, Kansas
Owner of Kiosk, a New York City-based store stocked with souvenirs from her travels (kioskkiosk.com).
On bargaining "I never talk people down on a price. If I feel someone is taking advantage of me, I just don't buy from him or her. In certain places, I always factor in a minor markup; after all we are not locals, and it's OK to pay more since, in these cases, we have more."
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Scouting Report: Tanabe, Japan
John Chatterton and Richie Kohler
Scuba divers who inspired the books Shadow Divers and Titanic's Last Secrets (johnchatterton.com, richiekohler.com).
On attire "Quite often it sends a message, and if you are working with locals you can't afford to send the wrong one by mistake. Wearing shorts rather than long pants can have a huge impact."
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Scouting Report: Weymouth, England