Nobody likes to be judged on their appearance alone, but when your look screams "tourist" it's pretty easy for the locals to make assumptions and treat you differently. If you want to be branded as an outsider, go ahead and make these mistakes.
1. Talk Loudly
It’s not even the use of English that immediately gives you away as an American — it’s the loud volume at which you’re speaking…and you might not even be aware you’re doing it. (Seriously, just Google: “Americans talking loudly” to see thousands of articles about this phenomenon.) Remember to watch the level of your conversations, especially in enclosed spaces like subways or restaurants.
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2. Don't Follow Local Customs
SmarterTravel’s Jamie Ditaranto, who often travels to Brazil to visit family, says, “This only applies to women, but if you go to the beach in Brazil in an ‘American’ bikini, people will notice. My cousins have even gone so far as to refer to American bikinis as pajamas.” Likewise, if you visit somewhere more conservative, like Egypt, you’ll want to dress in a far more modestly than you might at home.
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3. Block the Sidewalk
You’re walking down the sidewalk when all of the sudden the urge strikes: you need to snap a photo of what’s in front of you, consult your map, or check your destination app to decide where to go next. So instead of pulling over, like you would if you were driving down a street, you come to a dead halt, impeding the flow of pedestrian traffic behind you. Locals in busy cities know—if you need to stop, get out of the way.
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4. Wear Workout Clothes and Sneakers
Zip-off pants, cargo shorts, any kind of technical clothing—you’re walking around a city, not summiting a mountain, so why are you wearing workout or hiking clothing? If you want to blend in, wear pieces that are both comfortable and stylish. Yoga pants may be great to wear at home as you run errands around town, but in the majority of cities around the world, workout clothes are never worn on the street. The same goes for shoes—if you’d wear what’s on your feet to go for a run, don’t rock them in a new city. Instead, pack a pair of travel-friendly shoes that still look stylish.
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5. Compare Everything to Home
“Oh, that’s so weird/cool/interesting! Where I’m from, we … ” Or, “In America, you would never see that.” The whole point of traveling is to experience new cultures, and if you’re stopping to compare everything to what it’s like back home, you’re kind of missing the point.
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6. Refuse to Figure Out the Local Currency
We’ve actually witnessed tourists just holding out their money for cashiers to select the right amount, because these vacationers can’t be bothered to learn the local currency. Not only are you WAY too trusting, but you’ll likely irritate the shopkeeper and definitely out yourself as a tourist. Try downloading a conversion app, and checking out photos of the local currency before you leave, so that you’ll be more familiar with it when it comes time to pay.
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7. Wear Your Home Team's Gear
C’mon, is your entire wardrobe really made up of gear from your local sports team? (If you’re from New England, we can kind of believe this, actually.) But let’s be honest, wearing an NFL jersey or a baseball hat from your alma mater is going to brand you as an American pretty fast. Along the same lines, please do not trade in your American sports gear for that of the local soccer team wherever you go, unless you really are a fan. No one likes a poser and you’ll be unmasked pretty quickly once another supporter strikes up a conversation with you.
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8. Read a Guidebook
The most obvious, tell-tale sign of being a tourist is definitely reading a guidebook in public. That’s why we love e-readers—read a guidebook, check a map, or read 50 Shades of Grey wherever you go, and no one will know your secret shame.
What do tourists do in your hometown that make them stand out? Tell us in the comments.
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