Ways To Look A Bit Less Like A Tourist

Ways to Look A Bit Less Like A Tourist

“I wore only black socks, because I had heard that white ones were the classic sign of the American tourist. Black ones though,- those’ll fool ’em. I supposed I hoped the European locals’ conversation would go something like this:

PIERRE: Ha! Look at that tourist with his camera and guidebook!
JACQUES: Wait, but observe his socks! They are…black!
PIERRE: Zut alors! You are correct! He is one of us! What a fool I am! Let us go speak to him in English and invite him to lunch!”  Doug Mack

Becoming invisible as a traveler is difficult and the skill takes a long time to master. Don’t get discouraged and let the act of “trying to fit in” ruin your trip, You are who you are.

Learn a few words of the language, Good day, good evening, please and thank you are a good start. I can say coffee with milk and no sugar in any country I have been to. It was particularly difficult for me in Turkish. You aren’t going to pass for a resident but it is a way to ingratiate yourself with the locals and at least get better service.

Speak softly in public. Speaking loudly in a foreign language can lead to unwanted attention from pickpockets.

If you are in a city where people are stylish, it is best to not walk around in sweatpants and flip-flops, unless you are in Rio where people do wear Havianas. Casual chic is good. American casual is not that common outside of the US. Scarves are a nice accessory when traveling. I’m not perfect. I do bring a cute baseball hat for the sun in cities. It is an easy to pack hat but also a dead giveaway no matter how casual chic the rest of my outfit is.

Wear the colors that local people are wearing. Black is good in many cities but not in the Caribbean or India. Wear the right swimwear if you want to fit in. In Brazil, your bathing suit will look like pants on the beach. All the men wear Speedos in some countries.

Use the typical condiments of your host country when eating. If you can’t eat without ketchup bring some McDonald’s packets with you. If you can’t eat without ketchup you should not be traveling anyway. Don’t ask for decaf. It is not a thing in most restaurants in the world.

Eat the local food at the local meal time. Use local table manners. If everyone is eating with chopsticks, you should be too. In many countries it is rude to walk down the street eating. Tipping is a dead giveaway. Learn the customs of a country before you go.
Don’t chew a lot of gum. It’s an American thing.

In certain areas, it is best to live a little less through the lens of a camera. Camera-toting tourists are an easy target for theft because not only are they showing off expensive equipment, but they are also distracted from their surroundings. I still take lots of pictures in my travels, but I make sure to be discreet. I am guilty of wearing a camera but being from New York, I am always aware of my surroundings and keep it out of sight when necessary.
There is a difference between awareness and fear. The more authentic travel experiences you have, the more you learn how to travel.

Fly safe,

Ten Things You Should Know About Traveling To Third World Countries

Ten Things You Should Know About Traveling To Third World Countries.

“When you travel, remember that a foreign country is not designed to make you comfortable. It is designed to make its own people comfortable.” – Clifton Fadiman

1.Hakuna Matata is a real thing. Planes leave when they leave. Trains and buses arrive when they arrive. Shops and restaurants open when they open. Things are as they are. (Thailand)


2. Rules can usually be broken with a little cash. Sad but true.

3.Traffic laws don’t have to be followed. You should wear a bike helmet and seatbelt but no one checks. Ten people should not be in your car, on your bike, or riding on the roof but they do.  You shouldn’t drink in the street or drive in the wrong lane but you can. Cars don’t always stop for red lights especially when the traffic light is new. Crossing a street can be life threatening. Once you decide to make your move, keep going. (Myanmar)


4.The food while delicious can also be frightening – especially if you aren’t used to eating insects, guinea pigs, rodents or every part of an animal. (Mexico)


5.The word toilet in a third world country is a whole other experience. Always carry paper and hand sanitizer.  If you are a girl, strengthen those leg muscles and learn to stand. Many times you will wish that you also carried a toilet. (Panama)


6. You will have interesting animal adventures. There are many stray animals in these countries that belong to everybody. I don’t like taking a walk followed by a pack of wild, overly friendly, hungry dogs. It happens a lot in villages. I turn back. I have a fear of being kicked by walking close to a cow on the side of a road (and that could easily happen) or spit at by goats,camels or llamas. Kangaroos are cute but when they jump in front of your car and you slam on the brakes – not so cute. (Australia)

022 - Australia - Kangaroo

7.Buying handicrafts in a third world market is fun if you know what you are doing. The phrase just looking does not translate into foreign languages well. If you show the slightest bit of interest, you will probably own whatever it is you are looking at, or be cursed at in a different language if you don’t buy it. (Turkey)


8.Not every village has a garbage truck that comes to your house and picks up garbage every week.

9. All countries have their own customs. This is a hard concept for American to understand. How many times have I pointed with the wrong finger, ate with the wrong hand, put my shoes on a tatami mat, touched someone’s head, misunderstood personal space, kissed hello only once or not at all? I am sure that I insult the honor of someone’s family when I am traveling at least once a day. (Japan)


10. You are rich.  Your plane ticket costs more than some people earn. (Argentina)


If you are reading this on a computer or mobile device, compared to most of the world, you have a great life.


Fly safe,