Some of the world’s most desirable vacation destinations feature stunning sights, tremendous restaurants, kind locals, and, well, visitors that stick out like sore thumbs. This unfortunate truth probably comes as something of a surprise to regular travelers, who often feel as though they are fitting in with permanent residents when they are in fact wearing shorts and a t-shirt in Reykjavik and begging for directions (or doing something similar)!
Traveling is a horizon-broadening experience that only open-minded individuals should attempt; itis a journey into the unknown and an acknowledgement that something unexpected is waiting around the corner. Thus, it is not entirely fair to expect vacationers to know how to look like they are from a place that is completely different from their homeland. With that said, a few simple and effective steps can be taken by travelers to minimize the severity of their “tourist” appearance, and in the process, maximize the overall quality of their interactions, experiences, and journeys.
Here are three steps that will help travelers look less like tourists and more like locals!
Research Fashion Trends
The first thing that everyone — tourists, locals, adults, and children alike — notices about an individual is his or her clothing. Before a person is even approached, subconscious conclusions as to his or her nature are reached based simply upon clothing. Whether or not these conclusions are accurate is another matter entirely, but the old adage about having one chance to make a first impression holds true today.
In this way, the first impression that tourists make to onlookers is that they are from a different part of the world. This doesn’t necessarily mean that tourists have to look completely unique when compared to locals, but rather, they can be picked out from the crowd as a result of a few stylistic deviations in their appearance.
The solution to this dilemma is simple: research fashion trends before visiting a new place and proceed to personally incorporate some of these trends into your attire. This doesn’t mean googling “German clothes” is a good idea for those planning to visit Berlin; the produced results won’t tell the entire story of the country’s fashion. Rather, visiting the social media pages of leading German celebrities and noting the clothing and accessories they are equipped with is a solid plan of action that places an emphasis on current appearances. Plus, with enough planning and foresight, recreating ensembles similar to these can be both fun and affordable!
Learn Language and Dialect Basics
Individuals planning to visit a foreign country or a different region of their own country should take a small amount of time beforehand to learn their destination’s local language and dialect. It is not possible to learn an entire tongue in a couple weeks, but basic words—please, thanks, hello, goodbye, etc.—are certainly doable. Moreover, even if a destination features the same language as one’s home country, it is likely that differences in dialect and word usage will present some challenges. These challenges can also be overcome with a bit of initiative in the form of study sessions.
Become Familiar with Local Establishments
Tourists wanting to look like locals should also become familiar with their destination’s nearby establishments prior to traveling. Frankly, locals can notice that even the most well-dressed and fluent (in the official language) individuals are tourists if they are asking their phone and others for directions and confusedly scanning an area.
Develop a simple understanding of local businesses and amenities—restaurants, entertainment, required lodging, banks, and more—to save energy and look like a permanent resident.
These tips are sure to help travelers fit in with their destination’s locals and general culture. Travel safely!