Looking like a tourist can not only make you stand out but it can also make you a target for a criminal. Standing on a street corner with a lost look on your face, a map in your hand, and a suitcase by your feet leaves little question that you are not a local. Whenever you travel to a new, unfamiliar place, there are several simple things you can do to avoid looking like a tourist and, in turn, make your trip safer.
Use inconspicuous city maps
Travel with small maps; either on your cell phone or on small sheets of paper – never carry a full size map or guide book. Familiarize yourself with the maps and your routes prior to arrival. If you have to refer to the map, be subtle: sit on a bench, lean against a wall, something nonchalant.
Know your plan
Before you arrive, know what you want to do. Plan your routes – even knowing turn–by-turn directions. Modern smart phones make this easy in more developed areas, but you still need to rely on maps and old-fashioned route planning in more remote locations.
Eat and observe
When you need time to figure out a plan; don’t stand on the street corner – think about your plan while grabbing a bite to eat. One of the best ways to travel like a local and get the lay of the land is to sit in a restaurant and observe. You can review your maps and guide book while eating rather than standing on the sidewalk or street corner for a thief to notice you. You can also watch how the locals behave and simply people watch without drawing attention to yourself.
Always travel in clothes that don’t stand out. Avoid bright colors, visible brand names, and obviously expensive accessories. Once you arrive, pay attention to what the locals and the tourists wear. Try to find a balance that lets you blend in.
The goal is to not stand out when you are traveling – the more you look like a local, the less likely you are to be a target.
What are your suggestions for looking like a local when traveling?