When you are traveling abroad, the last thing you want to do is stick out like a sore thumb and look like a tourist. There are a number of reasons behind this like safety for one, but for the most part, looking like a tourist just isn’t cool. Just as you may think it is goofy to see other people from different countries come here to the United States and show how touristy they are the same holds true for them when you visit their country.
It is very easy to avoid looking like a tourist and here are some tips to help you:
• Leave the map behind: Nothing screams tourist louder than a person walking aimlessly down the street with their nose buried in a map. Instead of bringing the map with you try mapping out your day the night before in your hotel room. If you get completely lost, just go into a local store and ask for directions.
• Dress like a local: The first thing you should do when traveling abroad is to find out how the locals dress. Then you can either buy something before you go or buy something as soon as you get there. If you walk around the streets of Paris wearing short and a t-shirt that says Red Sox on it with your favorite Red Sox cap, do you really think you are going to blend in?
• Avoid cameras around your neck: Another sure sign of a tourist is the video camera and regular camera hanging around your neck. With today’s technology there is no excuse for you to be walking around looking like a member of the media. Keep your cameras and video cameras in your purse or out of sight and only take them out when you intend on using them.
• Eat what is served to you: Avoid asking for ‘American’ condiments such as ketchup and mustard as this is a sure way to out yourself. You are on vacation after all and in a whole new part of the world, so do as the locals do and try the food the way they prepare it.
• Observe local customs: When you meat people don’t just jut your hand out and expect that it will get shook. In some countries this is taboo so it is wise to observe the local customs and do what they do. This really should be researched before you go on your trip.
• Know the language: If you can, learn the native tongue before you take your trip. If this can’t be done, just try to converse with those who speak English as well. Using a translation book not only says you are a tourist, but if you aren’t careful you can unknowingly call someone a name when all you are trying to do is ask where the bathroom is.
Seeing the world is truly a wonderful thing, but if you don’t want to look like a tourist then you have to do your best to blend in with the locals. Do some research ahead of time and remember the old saying, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.”