How to Travel Without Looking Like a Tourist

A girl in a black dress with a white topper and black hat looking through a camera about to take a picture with houses with brown roof on the background.

How to travel without looking like a tourist

Let’s face it, nobody wants to be the guy in the cringe worthy socks-and-sandals combo who’s dropping his change all over the floor and complaining that the money “looks funny.” Unfortunately, bimbo tourists are becoming a hated commodity in cities all over Europe as the locals become increasingly frustrated with the endless waves of slack-jawed visitors. The residents of places like Barcelona, Rome and Paris are getting fed up. Okay, the Parisians have always been a little touchy, but still…

Travel has become increasingly affordable and places your grandparents could only dream of visiting are now just a budget flight away. That means, however, that some destinations are experiencing a shortage of supplies, accommodation and good humor. If you want to make things a little easier for the people who have to live in the places you’re just breezing through (and have them direct their ire at someone else), try following some of these sensible suggestions.

Dress as You Would at Home

Nobody in Venice dresses like they’re on an African safari. Nobody. You don’t need fifty different pockets to hold your hotel key and wallet, so take off the vest and just wear what you normally would. Sorry, but getting on the London Eye doesn’t constitute adventure travel.

Lay Off the Selfies

Other than getting drunk and throwing up in the Vatican, there’s nothing more annoying to the locals than having to thread through idiots with selfie sticks. Taking photographs is fine, waving your camera in other people’s personal space is not.

Don’t Be a Boor

You wouldn’t go to a friend’s house and start telling them how much comfier your couch is or that their tv sucks, so why would you do the equivalent on vacation? You’re a guest in someone else’s country, so behave like one. If you want everything to be the same as back home, take a staycation and dine at MacDonald’s.

Remember that Not Everyone Speaks English

There are currently 6,909 different languages being spoken in the world, of which English is only one. Far more people speak Chinese and Spanish, and they’re not just amusing themselves by pretending they don’t understand what you’re saying. Shouting doesn’t help. Either learn a few key phrases before you travel, or make do with sign language, pointing, and a lot of shrugging and smiling.

Keep Your Drinking Down

Unless you’re at Oktoberfest or sitting in almost any Australian bar, try to keep your alcohol consumption to acceptable levels. Having a few too many will get you lost, fleeced and possibly extremely sick.

Dump the Crocs

While Americans may think wearing foamy sandals is perfectly acceptable, everyone else in the world is laughing at you. And while you’re at it, leave the baseball cap at home too.

Don’t Chew Gum

For a start, you should know that gum chewing is normally only practiced by people outside North America when a plane is descending and they want to reduce the pressure in their ears. That’s it.  Nothing screams “tourist” louder than chewing gum in a public place. If you must chew, think of it like going to the bathroom. Do it alone, discreetly, and where nobody else has to see or hear you.

Skip the Tour

There’s no way to blend when you’re on a group tour of a local attraction, so the best advice is don’t sign up. You’ll almost always be able to pick up a self-guided brochure if you want a bit of help with the exhibits. Sure, the tour guides will add a whole bunch of interesting snippets, but you’re better off doing your research before you leave home and then spending time looking at whatever is of particular interest to you. You might even get to see something if you’re allowed to take your time and not standing in a pack of thirty sweating bodies.

Immerse yourself with the Local Customs

You’re not going to become naturalized on a holiday, but at least try to avoid social gaffes. If you’re in Canada, never ask for ketchup on your poutine. Don’t refer to England as Scotland, the Scottish as British, or the Irish as anything else.  Never call anyone “mate” in Australia if you’re from somewhere else. Don’t eat on the street in Japan. Basically, do a little homework to make your visit a bit less awkward.

Lose the Self-Consciousness

Despite everything we’ve just said, tourism drives the economy in most popular destinations, so your visit is welcome if you don’t try to invade. It’s okay to ask for directions, recommendations, or suggestions for places to see. Just remember to buy something though if you’re asking for them in a store.

We hope you enjoy a fun, rewarding and camouflaged vacation wherever your wanderings may lead you.