13 Mar When in Rome: How to Avoid Looking Like a Tourist
Traveling to new places is exciting, especially traveling abroad to foreign countries. You get to experience different cultures, people, ethnic foods, music—a whole new way of life. While you may be a visitor in a new country, you probably don’t want to look like one. Feeling lost or out of place can take away from the enjoyment and general excitement of travel, and leave you stressed and uncomfortable.
There are certain things you can do to help yourself not look like a tourist in a new place. We’ve done our fair share of traveling and have come up with the top 6 things to help you avoid looking like a tourist.
No Need for Camera Straps
Wearing a camera around your neck will send off a very loud signal that you are a tourist. You obviously want to to take pictures to remember your time abroad, but you’ll look much more like a local if you keep the camera in your purse or pocket. Also, not constantly having a camera around your neck will take away some of the pressure you might feel to take a million pictures. Without it, you will be able to take in the scenery and just relax. You’ll still want to take pictures to send to your friends back home, and luckily, these days our mobile phones take high quality pictures so it is easy enough to stash it away in your pocket after capturing the perfect shot.
Avoid Overly Culturally-Specific Clothing
While we may all harbor a lot of national pride in our hearts, it’s best not to wear it on our sleeves when we travel abroad. Wearing clothing with cultural slogans or images emblazoned across your chest will make it very obvious where you are from. In the same sense, avoid wearing clothing with culturally-specific brand names or icons. You can further blend in with the locals by observing what they are wearing and what different accessories they use. If you are in a place where all the men and women are wearing scarves, go to a local shop and pick one out to wear on your trip. It will also make for a great souvenir or gift when you return home.
Accept the Local Condiments
In most countries, you won’t find salt and pepper on every table, and the server likely won’t offer you a side of ketchup. Those are very Americanized condiments that are always readily available in the U.S., but it is not a norm everywhere else. Instead, you’ll find things such as aiolis, piccalilli relish, and tapenade. Taste and sample the condiments the restaurant provides with the meal. You will get a taste of the local flavor that way, and may find something new that you like. The condiments they serve were created to enhance the flavors of the meal, so don’t risk offending someone by asking for ketchup.
Know Your Accommodations
While traveling abroad, you’re going to need a place to crash after a day of sightseeing. While there are hundreds of options for you to choose, you want to make sure you book the right accommodations. What are the right accommodations? It depends on what you are looking to get out of your trip. Pick something that you will feel comfortable navigating through. You want to be able to walk in like you own the place, not look lost and confused. It is helpful to choose lodging near big landmarks. That way, you will always know where you need to end up at the end of the day. Location is everything—figure out the different spots of the country you want to visit and book a stay at a resort that is a central location to all those places. You want to feel comfortable and in the know, and the right accommodations will help get your trip started off on the right foot.
Keep the Map in your Hotel Room
Maps are another way to announce to the masses that you are a tourist. Not only that, but maps can be large and bulky and an annoyance to carry around. Do your best to learn and memorize the map in the privacy of your hotel room. Plan nearby day trips in specific parts of the country so you don’t get too overwhelmed. This will also help you better understand where you are touring and make you feel more confident when sightseeing. If the thought of wandering without a map stresses you out, keep one on your person and look at it in a store or public bathroom to avoid drawing too much attention to yourself. Better yet, find a cafe or store with wireless Internet and do a quick search to find out where you are and where you want to go.
Learn About the Culture Before You Go
To enhance your experience, make an effort to learn about the customs of the country you are vacationing in. Learn basic phrases in the local language to help you navigate different landmarks, shops, and menu items. Try to understand basic customs and mannerisms so that you avoid offending anyone. Hand gestures and signals mean different things in every country, so it is best to understand what you should and shouldn’t say or do. Educating yourself about the culture of the country you travel abroad to will not only make you a more knowledgeable person, it will allow you to be more comfortable in a new situation. You’ll have a better, more informed visit that you will reminisce about from years to come.