When in Amish Country, do as the Amish do. That means traveling by buggy and this can be a great way to immerse yourself in the culture and heritage of the Amish. The clip-clop of the horse’s hooves makes a perfect soundtrack to enjoy the passing farms and fields, but there are a few things to know before you climb aboard.
Tips for Taking an Amish Buggy Ride
1. Be respectful. Most buggy rides are driven by members of the Amish community, which gives you an authentic glimpse of the culture, but also presents a challenge. The Amish are extremely private and try to avoid contact with the outside world. For that reason, you can expect that your driver may appear somewhat standoffish and reticent. Many drivers are open to answering questions and are even happy to share their culture with you, but use great care not to treat these fellow humans as a tourist attraction.
2. Don’t take photos without asking. Most Amish people consider having a photograph taken to be an act of extreme pride, so photographs of the Amish should be avoided as a matter of respect. However, they generally do not object to photographs of their farms, homes, and buggies, but it’s always polite to ask before you point and shoot. Whenever possible, use a telephoto lens to be as unobtrusive as possible.
3. Do not feed or approach the horses without permission. Horses are a valuable possession to the Amish and should be treated with the utmost respect. Speaking of possessions, the buggy is probably the most valuable possession to the Amish, so do your best to treat it respectfully.
4. Bring Cash. Yeah, the Amish don’t accept credit cards. You will want to bring enough cash to pay for your buggy ride, plus any purchases you want to make at any farms you visit on your tour.
5. Tip your driver. I was surprised to learn that many buggy companies are owned by non-Amish who then hire Amish drivers. I am sure that the buggy drivers are paid by the ride or hourly, but a nice tip ensures that they are properly thanked.
6. Have some patience. This isn’t the train station, so don’t expect your tour to run exactly on time. The Amish have a simpler and slower way of life (which is why we love them, right?) and that means that they are more apt to operate on a looser schedule. Just give yourself plenty of time and don’t get in a hurry. After all, a slower pace is what you came for and you might as well enjoy it while it lasts.