Part of the joy of traveling is being able to absorb into a new culture, figuring out the customs, language and cuisine, and embracing the difference.
For our purposes, let’s say there’s a difference between looking like a “tourist” and looking like a “traveler”: the latter is someone who’s clearly from another place, but who treads respectfully and intelligently when they travel. Here are some tips for how to avoid looking like a “tourist” when you travel.
Pack Simple, Sophisticated Clothes
There’s a reason the cliché of a (North American) tourist is wearing a loud Hawaiian shirt and massive sun hat. When traveling, opt for clean, classically stylish clothes that convey a sense of humility and sophistication. Our is the perfect base for this kind of clothing – our shirts are simple and well made. Good for a hike, or a dinner out.
Save The Flip-Flops For The Beach
This one’s really dependent on where you are, as many countries, particularly those with more of a beach culture, really don’t mind the liberal use of flip-flops. Certain places (we’re looking at you, Europe) have an aversion to the informal footwear, especially at indoor places like shops or restaurants. The aversion has prompted more than one popular article, including on where not to wear flip-flops. It’s not a huge deal, but if you’re looking to fit in with the locals, as a rule of thumb save flip-flops for the beach.
Learn A Little Bit Of The Language
Most people love it when you can break out a few phrases in their tongue. It shows you’ve taken an interest in their culture enough to try and communicate. Even just – salutations and thank you’s – can go a long way to making you seem less like an entitled tourist and more like a cultured traveler.
If you're going out, Dress Up A Little
When you’re traveling, especially on a shoestring budget, the impulse can be to stop worrying about how you look. Going for dinner at a sit-down restaurant? ‘Meh, I’ll wear what I was wearing to the beach.’ Try and shake this mentality a little, and dress up to show that you respect your environment. It doesn’t need to be much more than a clean, well-fitted shirt or even a blazer – for instance, our Merino wool clothing can be dressed up or down.
Be Discreet With The Picture Taking
Not everyone likes to be treated like a curiosity. Sure, they may be doing something that seems out of the ordinary or even fantastically awesome, but it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re cool with their photo being taken. Just ask them. If they say no, so be it. And if they say yes, you can feel good knowing you got your shot respectfully.
Avoid Unnecessary Arguments
Finally, regardless of how frustrated a person or situation might make you, try and stay cool and calm. The English speaking world can sometimes have a reputation for hotheadedness; as ambassadors for your country, try and de-escalate arguments and talk through things rationally.
All that being said, there’s nothing wrong with being a tourist. You just don’t want to be a “tourist”. As avid travelers ourselves, we know that it’s far better to be respectful, communicate with locals and dress like you’re looking to impress – you can on our website about how we founded Unbound Merino to help improve the travel experience.