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5 Ways to Avoid Looking Like A Tourist While Traveling

5 Ways to Avoid Looking Like A Tourist While Traveling

Look, we get it, no one wants to lose their passport or get robbed when they travel… you want to dress for comfort and take a lot of pictures… but do you really have to stick out like a sore thumb when abroad? We submit that you do not.

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    The above picture is of actual street art in South America, depicting the “Ugly American” breed of tourist. This is the perception that we are fighting! Here are 5 things we can do to help restore our reputation the world over.

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    1. For the love of God, leave the fanny pack at home

    Fanny packs and and backpacks worn on the front of a person’s body are strong tourist indicators. My best guess on the rationale behind wearing such front-facing storage devices is that valuables will be safer where they can be monitored directly, and, while this may be technically correct, is this really worth looking like such a big dork.

    Try this instead: Spacial awareness. You don’t need to see your stuff to be acutely aware of its presence. Keep an eye on your surroundings. If you make it easy to be robbed, you might just get robbed, so pay attention, use common sense, and you should be fine.

    Disclaimer: There are situations where extra precautions are needed and dorky packs might be worthwhile, especially in larger cities and when using public transportation. Always use common sense and do your research when traveling.

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    2. Just because people can’t understand what you’re saying doesn’t mean that they can’t hear you

    When you are traveling through a foreign country and find yourself surrounded by people that do not share your language it is easy to get in the habit of speaking freely about what is going on around you (“Check out that lady, she is like 3 feet tall!” “Oh my God, that guy is walking a goat”). In all honesty, I catch myself doing this all the time… and realistically it probably isn’t that big of a deal if you do it at a subdued volume. If you can be heard from across a busy street, then you should probably shut up. The people around you live and work here, they are not all on vacation with you, don’t be annoying.

    Try this instead: pretend that you are surrounded by people who can understand you. Humans are fantastically well suited to reading non-verbal cues, they can tell from your facial expression, demeanor and tone if you are making polite or derisive comments about them. If you wouldn’t say something to someone’s face back home, don’t do it while traveling.

    3. Dress appropriately for your travel destination

    Half-unbuttoned Hawaiian shirts, baggy cargo shorts and sandals are appropriate for travel… to the beach. All kidding aside, It is important to dress appropriately for the location you are visiting, which isn’t to say that you can’t wear what you want, just that if you don’t want to stick out in a crowd, some effort may be required. That said, the value of dressing for comfort, especially while traveling cannot be overstated. You need to pack a lightweight, versatile wardrobe that is climate appropriate and suitable for whatever variety of activities you will be engaging in while keeping you comfortable.

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    Try this: Invest in some clothes made of “technical” fabrics that are lightweight, durable, comfortable and breathable. Merino wool is a popular choice as it is extremely versatile. While clothing made from these fabrics are often considerably more expensive, they are well worth the expense if you plan on traveling frequently and value comfort without sacrificing style.

    4. Pretend like you know what you are doing

    Another hallmark of the stereotypical tourist is the permanent look of complete bewilderment plastered on their face. (What is that? Where am I? Is this the market?) You see them snapping picture after picture while wandering aimlessly into roads. They constantly stop in the middle of a busy sidewalk, blocking traffic to ask for directions or consult their map.

    Try this instead: fake it. I grew up in New York City, where I learned the value of appearing like you know what you are doing. If you walk confidently and with purpose, you blend in (and you don’t get mugged).That said, preparation and research about the place you are visiting is essential, but even with advanced preparation, it is likely that you still might get a little lost or confused somewhere along the way. When this happens, just walk confidently on, when it is convenient to stop, take a minute to get your bearings and then, if necessary, ask a street vendor (in their language) for directions. Act like you belong and people will treat you like you belong.

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    5. Speak (at least a little bit of) the language

    A few years ago, I was walking through the East Village in New York City when a gentleman approached me and asked me a question in French. I do not speak French. I made apologetic facial and hand cues to indicate this fact to him. He ignored those cues and just started speaking louder, with a palpable tinge of annoyance in his voice, as if to say: how dare you not speak my language!?! This was the first time I had ever experienced what people living in non-English speaking tourist destinations have to endure on a daily basis. Remember that you, as a non-native speaker are the minority. You certainly don’t need to be fluent, but show some respect for the people whose home you are visiting and at least make an effort to converse with them in their language.

    Try this: Download Duolingo. If you have not already heard of it, Duolingo is a free app for Android and iOS that helps you to learn languages by game-ifying the process. It is fun and easy… there is literally no excuse not to use this. While you are still learning, you will inevitably find yourself in situations where you do not understand what is being said to you. In those cases, do not get frustrated, rather, smile apologetically and tell them that you are just learning (this should be one of the first phrases you memorize). The person you are speaking to will likely try to phrase what they are saying in a simpler way, while appreciating that you are making an effort to learn their language.

     

    When traveling abroad, remember these simple points and you will do just fine: Be polite and respectful. Don’t cause a spectacle or be overly loud. Basically just behave like you would back home and you should be fine… unless, of course, you are a terrible person, in which case, for the sake of your people’s reputation abroad, please don’t travel.

    Featured photo credit: Looking4Poetry via flickr.com

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    Last Updated on March 13, 2019

    How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

    How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

    Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

    You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

    Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

    1. Work on the small tasks.

    When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

    Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

    2. Take a break from your work desk.

    Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

    Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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    3. Upgrade yourself

    Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

    The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

    4. Talk to a friend.

    Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

    Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

    5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

    If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

    Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

    Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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    6. Paint a vision to work towards.

    If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

    Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

    Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

    7. Read a book (or blog).

    The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

    Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

    Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

    8. Have a quick nap.

    If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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    9. Remember why you are doing this.

    Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

    What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

    10. Find some competition.

    Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

    Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

    11. Go exercise.

    Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

    Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

    As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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    Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

    12. Take a good break.

    Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

    Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

    Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

    Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

    More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

    Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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