A Little Happier: Why My Father Decided to Pay the Tourist Tax

My father is a very cheerful and friendly person, and he’s also a person who doesn’t like to waste money. When I was in high school, we went on a big family trip. I’ll never forget him saying, “We need to be willing to pay the tourist tax.” By that, he meant, we should accept that sometimes we’d pay a little too much for something, or be taken advantage of in a small way. (I think he was reminding himself of this, just as much as he was reminding us.)

Paying the tourist tax didn’t mean that we’d throw money away, of course, but it meant that we wouldn’t worry too much about small amounts.

I think of this notion often, for two reasons. For one thing, it’s a good reminder that sometimes, it just takes too much energy and effort to worry about avoiding some small problem. We’d have a lot more fun on our vacation if we didn’t worry about always getting the best possible deal or avoiding every possible surcharge.

Also, it’s a good reminder of the value of trust. By being willing to pay the tourist tax, we could trust in the best of everyone we encountered, instead of being on the lookout for every possible avoidable cost, and that attitude gave us a much more open, engaged way of dealing with people.

Instead of thinking “Because we’re tourists, people are going to take advantage of us,” my father reframed it, “As tourists, we’re willing to pay the tourist tax.” And that shift in thinking made our time much more enjoyable.




Like what you see? Explore more about this topic.

Subscribe to Gretchen’s newsletter.

Every Friday, Gretchen Rubin shares 5 things that are making her happier, asks readers and listeners questions, and includes exclusive updates and behind-the-scenes material.