To many international travelers, being called a tourist is not a compliment. The stereotype is unflattering: think of a person with a large camera, unable to speak the local language, and a fanny pack. Unlike a tourist, a traveler is not the subject of ridicule. If you want to avoid being a tourist when you visit a new country, look at the below tips and learn how to be a traveler.
The first step to acting like a local is learning about the country you will visit. If you visit a country that speaks a different language, it’s probably not possible to master the language before your trip. Yet, you should still try to learn as much of the language as you can. Start with the basics. Learn how to order food, ask for directions, and call for help. Today, many people can speak English or at least understand some of it. So there’s a good chance that when you try to speak the local language, the locals will respond in English. This isn’t true in every country though, so do your research. Locals will appreciate that you took some time to learn about their language.
One of the best ways to blend in is to dress like the locals. Americans have a reputation for dressing casually. White tennis shoes, shorts, and graphic T-shirts are hallmarks of the American tourist. If you plan to visit a country that dresses conservatively, then you should plan on dressing conservatively as well. Remember that tourists are often the target of crime especially pickpocketing. Dressing like a local will draw less attention to yourself.
Before you visit a new country, get to know their culture. For example, in America strangers greet each other with a smile. In many other countries, smiling at strangers is uncommon. This article does a good job of explaining the role of smiling in different cultures. If you visit a country and expect most people to smile and they don’t, you’ll get the impression that the people are unhappy or rude. By learning about the country’s culture and how it differs from your own, you’ll avoid any misunderstandings. You will also lessen the amount of culture shock that you will experience while staying in the country.
Ask the Locals
The internet makes it possible for you to ask the locals as many questions as you want before you visit. This is the best way to find out where you should stay, eat, and what other activities you should do while you’re visiting. Tourist attractions are usually popular for good reason and worth the visit. But if you only do what the tourists do, you’ll miss out on fully experiencing the location you visit. There are many sites that let you pose questions to locals. Reddit, for example, has many subreddits like “Ask France” or “Ask Europe.”
When you visit a country as a traveler and not a tourist, you will have a better experience. You will enter the country with an appreciation of the local culture and will most likely return home with an even greater appreciation. Plus, you will leave a good impression of your home country.