Dump the map and keep calm: 10 ways to not look like a tourist in the United States and abroad.
When you’re travelling around the country, it’s good to be as discreet as possible. But some people just can’t help themselves. Here are 10 ways that you can avoid looking like a typical tourist while you’re out and about.
1: Just say “No” to maps
We’re living in the 21st century, right? So why do we still keep paper maps for vacations? They’re great to look at in your hotel room while planning out the day. But it’s best to just use your smartphone while hitting the pavement. Google Maps is great for finding almost anything in any city. And should you still need some help, just ask the locals – many are happy to help you out.
2: No more tablet pictures
I’m not sure where it began, but seeing people running around with their iPad out getting pictures is a little odd. There’s no denying the benefits of bringing a tablet for your vacation instead of a laptop. It’s just that they really shout “I’m a tourist!” when you take a picture with one in public. These devices are way too expensive and too large to carry around in your gear for the day. Cameras and smartphones take fine pictures.
3: Avoid touristy souvenir clothing
Remember that “I Love NY” shirt you bought a couple of days ago on your New York vacation? Resist that urge to wear it while on the same trip. It shouts “I don’t live here,” and is an easy thing to avoid.
4: Keep the camera hidden
You’ve got a brand new camera that cost you a cool grand (probably more), and you want to break it in on your vacation. There’s nothing wrong with that, but if it looks new you can bet some shady folks will take it as a sign you’re loaded. Also, go with a generic neck strap instead of the brand name variety to avoid a little more suspicion.
5: Avoid region-specific clothing
You love your alma mater with a passion, but shy away from wearing their gear while on trips. Why? Because when you wear your clothes that focus on your favorite sports teams or broadcast where you’re from you tend to look more like a tourist. It’s all about fitting into the area as much as possible.
6: Don’t stare and point
Most of our moms and dads told us it wasn’t polite to stare and point when we look at things. That really holds true in travel. You’re going to see a lot of cool things on your adventure, but just play it cool and point out certain things with words as best you can within your group. A sure sign of a tourist is gawking and pointing at anything in a new town.
7: Keep the money belt on the down low
There’s no disputing that money belts are a blessing for the modern traveler. They’re large enough to hold onto our valuables and still slender enough to hide from the naked eye. Only thing is when it starts to shift on your person. Probably not a good idea to try and pull your pants down while in a shop or park, unless you want to give the masses a heck of a show.
8: Drive like normal
You’re cruising around town in your rental car. But you don’t know the area all that well, so you tend to drive a little slower to make sure you can see street signs or landmarks. That’s all well and good for you, but to the local slamming their fist into the horn it’s anything but paradise. Try to treat the roads of your vacation destination like you’re at home. If you’ve got a smartphone, use the navigation app it has already loaded. You can also get directions at the hotel of how to reach where you’re going – just take detailed directions. And if you get lost, stop at a gas station or ask a local pizza delivery driver as they’ll have a better lay of the land than most.
There’s a tendency for many folks from the States to get heated up when things aren’t done the way they want. Whether it’s your hotel accommodations not being up to snuff or something that happened at the restaurant to tick you off, just relax. Almost every place you’re going to visit will do their utmost to give you a pleasant experience. You’re on vacation, and just remember they’re supposed to be fun. It’s funny how many people forget that fact.
10: Watch the weather report
This may seem pretty obvious, but it’s easy to forget. You head out in shorts and sandals because the weather is supposed to be nice for where you’re visiting. Then you head outside and the temperature dropped or the blue skies gave way to a torrential downpour. Many folks forget to check the weather report for that particular day and get caught with their pants down (and not just because of their money belt). You can always carry rain ponchos or just a pair of oversized open-and-close umbrellas can accommodate a family of four.