We all love to travel, and we all love being that tourist that travels around the world and sees amazing and wonderful things. However, we don’t want to be THAT tourist, you know the one that embarrasses you because they are the ultimate cliché tourist? They are the one wearing that loud shirt, local souvenir hat that nobody local would ever wear, camera around their neck, and acting as if they’re oblivious to everyone around them. The tourist you want to be, is the one that is not very noticeable, and can experience the locale that they are visiting as if they were a local. Aside from the fact that it’s safer not to stand out as a tourist, if you see the location as a local would see it, dressing more like a local will give you a much more rewarding experience. Here are a few things that you can do to make that vacation awesome, and not be the cliché and embarrassing tourist.
Wear the basics
There is a lot of great travel clothing that they sell out there, the only problem with that is most of it is made for a more rugged traveling. If you’re backpacker or hiking across the country, the clothing is a perfect fit, but if you’re going to be going to see some of the sites, you might want not want to look like someone that is ready to hike across the Alps. Just stick to the simple classics of clothing, and look what people are wearing in the area that you’re going to go to. The idea here is to fit in as best you can. If you can manage it, wear just a little bit more conservative clothing than the people around you. Remember the ideas not to stand out. Another thing to be careful of is the brightness of colors. In some places you can almost always tell the tourist by how bright the colors they are wearing. Back at home that bright green shirt is normal, but maybe the place you are visiting, that bright green shirt might seem 10 times more green and make you stand out like a lightbulb.
You cannot carry over the dress code from your home country to a new country. Although most of the time the basics will cover you just fine and work, it’s better to make sure you are wearing the right thing. This is especially important for women, as there are different traditions and morals everywhere across the world. You might feel 100% comfortable in a tank top and some shorts, but in some countries of the world this is completely inappropriate for a woman to wear. You might say to yourself “well that’s their tough luck”, but that there is the problem. Look at what the majority of the women are wearing in the area, and where the same. You are not in your own country, you are in theirs, so in a nutshell, dressed like a native, or at least quiet and conservatively. You do have some leeway in what you where because you are tourist, but if you want the locals to respect you more, make sure you aren’t wearing a T-shirt with some obscene slogan on it, that you forgot was even obscene as you had it so long.
Actions speak louder than words
As well as clothing, how you act in a different country is also important. Actions and things you do in your home country might not transfer over well to a new country. It can be something as simple as reaching up and touching someone’s face. In Thailand, for instance, this is a no go. Although you yourself, might think this is silly, it doesn’t mean it’s silly to people in Thailand. So have a healthy respect on how you should act in whatever country you are. The best way to do this is look around and see how others are acting and act like they do. And when we say act like they do, we need look at the locals, and not the embarrassing tourists that you are trying to avoid becoming. In some countries wearing that baseball hat indoors, is the height of rudeness. So although at home you can wear your baseball hat everywhere you go, when you are traveling you need to take things like that into consideration.
Respect goes a tremendous way when you’re traveling. If you respect their culture, and the people around you, as well as their traditions, it will change the way you have a vacation. Even learning a few words in a foreign language, can take you a very long way for people to like you and take you under their wing. Of course be careful, as a tourist you are also a victim, but if you keep your common sense around you, you’ll be okay. Just to give you another example of this, in Thailand if you make a joke about the king, you have made an amazing faux pas. They will dislike you, actively, and feel incredibly insulted. You may think it’s nothing, and making jokes about your political leaders is normal in your hometown, but in Thailand you could get in deep trouble for. So don’t assume. Keep a low profile, and a low-key, and respect everyone around you.
So really, the most fashion mistakes you’re going to make are those you do without any thought. So the best thing you can do is think more about what you wear. Look around you and at what the locals are wearing and doing, and follow suit. Even if you think it’s silly, it will be worth it. If you are not sure what to wear, or unsure on something, you can always ask the reception or the concierge at the hotel and they will usually be glad to steer you away from any big mistakes you might make. You are a tourist; so of course, ask for help when you need it. That’s the only way you’re going to learn. So stay low-key, wear what the locals wear (within reason, we don’t expect you to wear a kilt in Scotland), and be respectful. It will make all the difference.