4 Ways to Avoid Looking Like a Tourist When on Vacation

  • Travel Team
Mar 01, 2013

Travelers often fall into a trap of dressing for comfort and forgetting their sense of style when on vacation. While it may be tempting to ditch the fashion-forward trends for something more convenient, there are ways to strike a happy balance between the two.

If you look like a resident, or at least not like an oblivious tourist, you're less likely to fall prey to thieves or tourist scams and can enjoy every moment of your travel experience. So the next time you're heading out of the country, consider taking some simple steps to avoid looking like a traveler.

1. Ditch the fanny pack

They may be convenient, but nothing screams tourist like a fanny pack. Strapping all of your valuables around your waist is a visible sign that you're a tourist - and it could even put a target on your back for local thieves. In lieu of fanny packs, try a bag that has a strap going across your body - you still get more security than a typical purse and you can keep it in your vision or set your hand on it when in a crowded space.

Travelers who want to set out knowing their valuables are safe and close to their person can also use a money belt. These tools act like a fanny pack that is tucked into your clothing, so you can get the same level of security without letting everyone know you're new to the area.

2. Be discreet about maps and guides

Stopping in the middle of a crowded tourist spot to read a map or guidebook is not only a sign you're a visitor, it's also inconsiderate of people moving around you. Instead of stopping traffic to fumble with a piece of paper, take some steps to ensure you know where you're going ahead of time. Study the map before leaving your hotel room and fold it in such a way where the area you'll be walking is visible at first glance. Similarly, you can mark the pages of a guidebook you could need to easily flip to the important information instead of searching through it frantically.

3. Follow the dress code

Every destination has its own style. Dressing to blend in with the crowds and follow customs can help avoid run-ins with pickpockets or uncomfortable cultural situations, so doing a little bit of research before your departure may help you out in the long run.

Find out what the general trends and expectations are in the destination and pack accordingly. For example, travelers heading to India will want to make sure to pack more modest clothing that will allow them to seamlessly blend with locals.

While you're looking up a typical outfit, research the basic customs. Innocent gestures like handshakes, high-fives and even OK signs can mean vastly different things depending on where you are in the world, so knowing what's appropriate ahead of time can save you a lot of embarrassment and hassle.

4. Pay attention to your accessories

From your head to your feet, there are certain things you could be wearing that are dead giveaways to your status as a traveler. You'll rarely see baseball hats and visors in foreign countries, especially in Europe, and wearing a cap to represent your loyalty to the hometown team can reveal you're a traveler. In the same vein, Europeans don't usually wear athletic sneakers or flip flops while wandering through a city, so choose to wear slightly dressier shoes. You don't have to sacrifice comfort, however - flats, sandals and no-heel boots are all trendy selections that won't hurt your feet.


What are some ways you've avoided looking like a tourist?

Comment below to help out other travelers! No one wants to look out of place...

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