Mar 16, 2015

How Not to Look Like a Tourist

Living in New York, I've had my fair share of encounters with tourists. And in my travels abroad, I've known the struggle of trying not to stick out like a sore thumb as I traverse the European continent with my distinctly American style. The hardest part of looking like a tourist is that sometimes it's hard to even notice how much you do. It's more than just an issue of blending in -- obvious tourists are big targets for pickpocketers and other crimes, too. Here are some tips that I've picked up to avoid looking like a tourist just about anywhere. (Note: these tips are probably more applicable to major cities, but not just in the U.S.!)

1. Wear pants.

Especially in foreign countries, wearing shorts is the obvious mark of a tourist. If it's really quite warm where you are going, try to find lighter weight pants like linen. You'll notice though, in most big cities people dress in jeans and pants in almost any weather.

2. Switch your accessories.

Forget about typical touristy accessories like baseball caps, backpacks, and fanny packs. Instead, go shopping on your first day at your destination and pick up a few local accessories. Scarves, hats, and bags that fit in with what the locals wear will transform any outfit you brought into one that is less touristy looking.

3. Work on your camouflage.

Each location typically has a color palette that you'll notice most of the natives wearing. In places like many European cities and New York City, for example, black and neutral tones are key. South American countries, on the other hand, are often much more lively in their apparel.

4. Do your homework.

If you know what you're doing and where you're going before you leave your vacation rental, you'll be able to assume the natural confidence of locals. That means knowing the currency, having directions to where you're going without consulting a map constantly, and dressing for the weather.

5. Watch your footwear.

Everyone knows that white athletic shoes are an obvious giveaway for tourists, but it goes beyond that. Basically, don't wear shoes that have a function that isn't what you're doing that day. Tennis shoes are for tennis, running shoes are for running, etc. There are plenty of comfortable, casual shoes that are a little more fashionable.

6. Match the local pace.

In NYC, people are always hustling and bustling to get to where they are going. In European cities, the pace is a little more slow and deliberate. Match the local pace to avoid sticking out like a sore thumb, and to get a little taste of the local culture.

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