When you're traveling, it’s advisable to make yourself seem as much like a local as you can while visiting a new place. Exposing yourself as a tourist opens you up to all kinds of problems. You suddenly become prey for scammers and those trying to rip you off, as well as more sinister characters who target foreigners. In exceptionally touristy places, you’ll probably automatically annoy locals who are sick of tourists, even if you do nothing wrong.
Luckily, there are several easy ways to make yourself look more like a local and less like a tourist. Check out what not to do below.
10 Wearing Touristy Clothes
This one should be a no-brainer. Dress like a tourist, and people will know that you’re a tourist. Typical tourist clothes include things that you can buy at souvenir shops that locals have seen a million times before. Think the “I heart NY” t-shirt, or caps with the name of the city plastered across them.
It can be tempting to buy and wear all of that while you’re on a travel high. But if you wear touristy clothes, you may as well be carrying a sign that says you’re in a foreign place, probably for the first time.
9 Walking Around With A Massive Backpack
If you’re walking around with a massive backpack, you’ll look a lot like a tourist. If you’re a backpacker, sometimes this can’t be avoided. But generally, when you’re walking around the town that you’re staying in, try to bring only the essentials with you.
It’s a good idea to leave your backpack (locked) in your room, and bring a smaller bag where you can carry only the things you need. It only has to be big enough to hold your phone, wallet, passport, and room key, and it’s far less conspicuous than a huge backpack.
8 Wearing A Money Belt
Travelers have long believed that wearing a money belt is a way to guarantee safety from theft and pickpocketing while traveling. But that’s actually a myth. If you’ve got a huge bulge around your waist, your valuables might be hard to get to, but you’ll still be letting everyone know that you’re a tourist.
This might be safe in public places during the day, but if you’re on your own in a seedy part of town at night and you run into someone who can see a money belt, you’re actually letting them know that you’re worth mugging.
7 Referring To A Map
Can it get any more touristy than this? You’ll have to refer to a map at some point on your travels, and that’s nothing to be ashamed of. Just make sure that you’re subtle about how you do it. You definitely don’t want to bring a huge map with you and follow it in the street.
If you can, try to memorize your route before you leave your hotel. Or you can get the map on your phone and refer to it while sitting down in a coffee shop, or somewhere else where you aren’t obviously tracing every single step against a map.
6 Not Knowing A Word Of The Local Language
This is one of the most obvious signs that you’re a tourist, and unfortunately, one of the most unavoidable. Not knowing a single word of the local language will let people know that you’re not from here.
You don’t have to become fluent in a new language every time you travel to a new place, but it is a good idea to learn at least a few words in the language of your destination. The basics to learn are hello, thank you, yes, no, and excuse me, and they’ll go a surprisingly long way.
5 Not Following Local Etiquette
If you don’t follow the customs and etiquette of the place you’re going, you’ll immediately stand out as a tourist. That might mean blowing your nose in public in Japan or standing on the left side of the escalator to catch the Tube in London.
Sometimes, not only will you stand out as a tourist while doing these things, but you’ll also aggravate the locals. That’s why it’s always helpful to make yourself aware of any customs, traditions, and etiquette tips before you travel to a new place.
4 Not Understanding The Local Currency
Many travelers rely on travel cards and credit cards while globetrotting today, and that certainly takes the pressure off. It can be seriously confusing to learn a whole new currency and understand what every little coin means. Unfortunately, though, using card is not available at every destination.
Sometimes you’ll have no choice but to use the local currency in cash, so take some time to get familiar with it. The last thing you want to do is hold up the line while buying something because you can’t work out how much cash to hand over.
3 Getting Super Drunk
Getting completely lit is a pastime in places like the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia. But in many other places in the world, it’s not really done. Visit many of the countries in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East, and you’ll find that it’s actually frowned upon to get messy in public. It may even be illegal.
Losing control of yourself and your wits isn’t a good idea when you’re already in unfamiliar surroundings, anyway. Getting boozy and letting everyone know that you’re not a local is definitely not a winning combination.
2 Gawking At Everything You See
We know, it’s hard not to gawk at everything when you’re in a new and exciting place. Sometimes you can’t help it, and you shouldn’t have to hide your excitement when visiting a place you’ve been dreaming about for years. That said, openly staring at things that seem normal to locals will set you apart as a tourist.
If you’re witnessing something that you’re not used to but is totally commonplace for everyone else, try your best to be cool and save the excitement for the hotel room.
1 Eating Dinner Too Early
This one applies to Southern Europe in particular. Dinner in countries like Italy, Greece, and Croatia tends to be after 9 p.m. Often, you’ll see locals dining in restaurants at around 11 pm. So if you go out to eat your dinner at 6 p.m., you’ll be given away as a tourist.
It can be hard to wait if your stomach is used to eating a lot earlier. One good way of killing time is to have a nap at about 5 or 6 p.m., after a long day of sightseeing. Get up and get ready slowly, and make your way to dinner at about 8:30 p.m. to fit in with the locals.