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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 July 23, 2019

    5 Steps To Move Out Of Stagnancy In Life

    5 Steps To Move Out Of Stagnancy In Life

    In the journey of growth, there are times when we grow and excel. We are endlessly driven and hyped up, motivated to get our goals.

    Then there are times when we stagnate. We feel uninspired and unmotivated. We keep procrastinating on our plans. More often than not, we get out of a rut, only to get back into another one.

    How do you know if you are stagnating? Here are some tell-tale signs:

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    • If you have been experiencing chronic procrastination on your goals
    • If you don’t ever feel like doing anything
    • If you keep turning to sleep, eating, games, mindless activities and entertainment for comfort
    • If you know you should be doing something, but yet you keep avoiding it
    • If you have not achieved anything new or significant now relative to 1 month, 2 months or 3 months ago
    • If you have a deep sense of feeling that you are living under your potential

    When we face stagnation in life, it’s a sign of deeper issues. Stagnation, just like procrastination, is a symptom of a problem. It’s easy to beat ourselves over it, but this approach is not going to help. Here, I will share 5 steps to help you move out of this stagnation. They won’t magically transform your life in 1 night (such changes are never permanent because the foundations are not built), but they will help you get the momentum going and help you get back on track.

    1. Realize You’re Not Alone

    Everyone stagnates at some point or another. You are not alone in this and more importantly, it’s normal. In fact, it’s amazing how many of my clients actually face the same predicament, even though all of them come from different walks of life, are of different ages, and have never crossed paths. Realizing you are not alone in this will make it much easier to deal with this period. By trying to “fight it”, you’re only fighting yourself. Accept this situation, acknowledge it, and tell yourself it’s okay. That way, you can then focus on the constructive steps that will really help you.

    2. Find What Inspires You

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    Stagnation comes because there isn’t anything that excites you enough to take action. If you don’t have a habit of setting goals, and instead just leave yourself to daily mundanes, it’s not surprising you are experiencing stagnation. What do you want to do if there are no limitations? If you can have whatever you want, what will it be? The answers to these questions will provide the fuel that will drive you forward.

    On the other hand, even if you are an experienced goal setter, there are times when the goals you set in the past lose their appeal now. It’s normal and it happens to me too. Sometimes we lose touch with our goals, since we are in a different emotional state compared to when we first set them. Sometimes our priorities change and we no longer want to work on those goals anymore. However, we don’t consciously realize this, and what happens is we procrastinate on our goals until it compounds into a serious problem. If that’s the case for you, it’s time to relook into your goals. There’s no point in pursuing goals that no longer inspire you. Trash away your old goals (or just put them aside) and ask yourself what you really want now. Then go for them.

    3. Give Yourself a Break

    When’s the last time you took a real break for yourself? 3 months? 6 months? 1 year? Never? Perhaps it’s time to take a time-out. Prolonged working can cause someone to become disillusioned as they lose sight of who they are and what they want.

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    Go take some extended leave from work. A few days at bare minimum; a few weeks or months will be great. Some of my ex-colleagues have quit their jobs and took months out to do some self-reflection. Of course, some of us might not have that luxury, so we can stick to a few weeks of leave. Go on a trip elsewhere and get away from your work and your life. Use this chance to get a renewed perspective of life. Think about your life purpose, what you want and what you want to create for your life in the future. These are big questions that require deep thinking over them. It’s not about finding the answers at one go, but about taking the first step to finding the answers.

    4. Shake up Your Routines

    Being in the same environment, doing the same things over and over again and meeting the same people can make us stagnant. This is especially if the people you spend the most time with are stagnant themselves.

    Change things around. Start with simple things, like taking a different route to work and eating something different for breakfast. Have your lunch with different colleagues, colleagues you never talked much with. Work in a different cubicle if your work has free and easy seating. Do something different than your usual for weekday evenings and weekends. Cultivate different habits, like exercising every day, listening to a new series of podcasts every morning to work, reading a book, etc (here’s 6 Proven Ways To Make New Habits Stick). The different contexts will give you different stimulus, which will trigger off different thoughts and actions in you.

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    When I’m in a state of stagnancy, I’ll get a sense of what’s making me stagnate. Sometimes it’s the environment I’m in, sometimes it’s the people I’ve been hanging out with, sometimes it’s my lifestyle. Most of the times it’s a combination of all these. Changing them up helps to stir myself out of the stagnant mode.

    5. Start with a Small Step

    Stagnation also comes from being frozen in fear. Maybe you do want this certain goal, but you aren’t taking action. Are you overwhelmed by the amount of work needed? Are you afraid you will make mistakes? Is the perfectionist in you taking over and paralyzing you?

    Let go of the belief that it has to be perfect. Such a belief is a bane, not a boon. It’s precisely from being open to mistakes and errors that you move forward. Break down what’s before you into very very small steps, then take those small steps, a little step at a time. I had a client who had been stagnating for a long period because he was afraid of failing. He didn’t want to make another move where he would make a mistake. However, not wanting to make a mistake has led him to do absolutely nothing for 2-3 years. On the other hand, by doing just something, you would already be making progress, whether it’s a mistake or not. Even if you make a supposed “mistake”,  you get feedback to do things differently in the next step. That’s something you would never have known if you never made a move.

    More to Help You Stay Motivated

    Here are some resources that will help you break out of your current phase:

    Featured photo credit: Anubhav Saxena via unsplash.com

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