Do You Think And Look Like A Tourist?

By: Rita Borges

When you to travel to a destination are you a tourist or a visitor? Do you assimilate into the culture or do you instantly brand yourself as a tourist. Unfortunately Americans have the international reputation for not blending into the local culture and sticking out in the crowd.

If you travel with a fanny back, you can rest assure that you will instantly be branded as a tourist. I have yet to see a non-American tourist sporting the fanny. Get rid of the fanny pack, it is aging, cheesy and worse of all just plain ugly.

I know this sounds obvious but I have no idea why so many people open an oversize map in the middle of the street. Study the map before leaving the hotel or even better leaving your home. That way, a quick glance while walking around is all you need to re-orient yourself.

If this is impossible, how about taking a break at a local restaurant or even pulling into a store to regroup. If you must travel with a map, try to get a small discreet one. Anything is better than pulling out the map with the fanny pack around your waist in the middle of lots of foot traffic.

When you visit glorious culinary cities such as Rome or Paris, do not eat at KFC, McDonalds or any other predictable American chain. Eat the way the locals do, grab the street food, do not assume that it is dangerous it will most likely be delicious.

Leave the flashy jewelry at home. We expensive draped around your neck and the expensive ring adorning your finger, you are asking for trouble. You will be an easy target for local thieves or a tourist who just does not know any better.

If you are staying in a hotel, utilize concierge service. With their help, you will know exactly where you are going. If you have opted to rent a vacation apartment, prior to arrival find out if you can hire a guide to orient you to city so that you do not have to wander around aimlessly.

Please make an attempt to learn the basics of the language. Do not assume that everyone speaks English. The French especially Parisians appreciate the effort and will encourage your learning. A few keywords in the local language will open many doors. No one is expecting you to be fluent but you will be surprised at how the service improves when you memorize a few key phrases in the local language.

For some reason, tourists love to look up so if you want to look like you belong do not look up. This simple unconscious act is a dead giveaway that you do not belong here and are on borrowed time.

How you dress speaks volumes to who you are. If you witnessed someone dressed in shorts, a t-shirt with a logo, baseball cap, back pack and athletic shoes, would you not think they were an American tourist? The universal color for chic attire is black. The population of Paris, London, New York and other sophisticated cities tend to wear lots of black.

I recommend packing few clothes, then immediately shop the local stores, and buy what you find there, buy the clothes the locals wear. You will instantly blend.

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