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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 8, 2020

    18 Benefits of Journaling That Will Change Your Life

    18 Benefits of Journaling That Will Change Your Life

    The act of writing in a journal often seems daunting or unnecessary to many people. Even authors who work on novels might shun the idea of daily diaries. What purpose does jotting down words on a regular basis do if not contributing to the next novel, play or song? I know from experience many benefits of journaling that I wish to share.

    1. Understand Yourself Better

    Though many people and even writers avoid keeping journals, I vow to do it more often. Not only do I desire to take up daily journaling but also I plan to do it with pen to paper.

    Some of the benefits I’ve found from my more active days include finding myself in the sense of understanding what matters to me and what I want out of life. I’ve been incredibly fortunate to find a spouse who is my best friend and advocate in raising children. I attribute this and much more to what I learned about myself in keeping journals for years.

    2. Keep Track of Small Changes

    I’ll admit that I never got very far with my guitar lessons, but in writing in a journal, I have seen the ability to track small changes like those that come when you practice anything.

    Those learning a musical instrument often fail to see the small improvements that come with regular practice. Writing won’t help you switch chords any faster, but it will help you to develop a better sense for language and grammar just by doing it.

    3. Become Aware of What Matters

    As you continue to write in a journal, following a stream-of-consciousness feel, you can look back on the topics that you chose to write about. Those issues and emotions that poured out of you will provide insight on to what matters most to you.

    You may not even realize that you’re job is depressing you or that you want to spend more time with your kids until you look over your thoughts that you weren’t really thinking about.

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    4. Boost Creativity

    The idea that the brain and its neural activity across hemispheres encourages learning also shows up in increased creativity. Just like with learning an instrument, your increased activity will inspire your thoughts to connect and reconnect in different ways.

    When I wrote in a journal, I often wrote poetry as well as just my thoughts as they came out. I started to hear poems more in my mind; so much so that I took to scrawling lines on napkins and finding metaphors in mundane activities.

    You really are what you do, so writing helps grow more than being a writer. Writing boosts the way you communicate and structure language, which really is a creative process.

    5. Represents Your Emotions in a Safe Environment

    A journal is as private as it gets. You can lock it in a safe or tuck it under a pillow and no one will accidentally share it on social media or have an opportunity to “leave a comment.”

    Write about your sorrow as much as your happiness and frustration and know that you don’t have to keep your emotions inside your body. You can put them on paper.

    6. Process Life Experiences

    When you take the time to look back over what you’ve written, be it a week or a year later, you will have the distance you need to more objectively interpret your raw feelings.

    Everything from losing a job to losing a loved one can emerge in a new light for a fresh perspective. Figuring out how the benefits of journaling affect your perspective on life will create connection and increase creativity.

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    7. Stress Relief

    In combining the exercise inherent in fine motor coordination that comes from the act of writing with the emotional release of self expression, those who maintain a journal relieve stress.

    Try it out. Go home and write about your day. Write about the traffic. Write about the coffee order the barista got wrong but you didn’t have time to change. See how you can physically purge some of that pent-up stress by putting it on paper.

    8. Provide Direction

    Though journaling is often conducted as an activity without much direction, it often provides direction.

    One of the biggest benefits of journaling is that your chaotic thoughts merge to show a direction in which to head. Asking the right questions is the only way to achieve the best solutions, so look to your journal to find your way toward your next goal.

    9. Solve Problems

    Just as in practicing math problems, we all get better at finding hidden solutions through the act of processing.

    Think of your next goal as X and solve your life problems by reading your journals as word problems. The benefit of journaling here is that you write, explore and process to recognize and then solve problems.

    When life is too in-your-face, you have to step back to see reality. Living in the moment allows us to write in the moment and use that expression to solve problems.

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    10. Find Relief From Fighting

    Solving your problems only comes after time to process, recognize and strategize. Just as in the benefit of journaling where relief comes from the act of writing, relief from fighting comes when you decide to “sit this one out” and communicate one-way.

    Fighting is only productive when the fighters care to communicate and find common ground. When the emotions are as high as the stress levels, writing will function as the best time out.

    11. Find Meaning in Life

    Journaling will show you why you are living, whether you are wallowing in things you wish to change or striving to make the changes. Your life will begin to take on new meaning and your own words will reveal the actions that got you where you are so that you can assess and pave a new path for your future.

    12. Allow Yourself to Focus

    Taking even a small amount of time out of every day will provide you with not only peace of mind but also increased focus. Taking a break to meditate in writing and journaling will sharpen your mental faculties.

    13. Sharpen Your Spirituality

    When we write, we allow all the energy and experiences to flow through us, which often provides further insight into our own spirituality. Even if your parents didn’t raise you to follow a specific religion, your thoughts will start to show you what you believe about the universe and your place in it.

    14. Let the Past Go

    I’ve mentioned a few examples where going back over your writing offers advice and direction, but the simply truth is that writing down our feelings can be the best way to let them go. We can choose to literally throw these pages away when they’re filled with negativity and hate.

    15. Allow Freedom

    Journaling is the perfect way to not only express yourself but to also experience the freedom of being who you are. Your books can stay private or you can publish them. Your freedom stems from your sense of self and your perception of your thoughts.

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    16. Enhance Your Career

    Again, the private act of pen-to-paper processing provides the benefits of journaling mentioned above, but you can also enhance your career when you take similar ideas and categorize, edit and publish them in an online blog.

    Your thoughts will often be personal and express emotions, but another benefit of journaling is uncovering fresh ideas about your work.

    17. Literally Explore Your Dreams

    All the benefits I’ve mentioned explore ideas, thoughts and emotions, which is also what our dreams and nightmares do. Through writing down your dreams from the previous night, you can enhance your creativity as well as connect some of the metaphorical dots from the rest of your journal.

    18. Catalog Your Life for Others

    No one wants to think about dying, but we all die. Leaving a journal will act as a way to reconnect with family and friends left behind. The ideas you wish to keep personal while you process the life you’re living will serve to rekindle and inspire those who loved you through the process.

    We consider our partners our life witnesses, but writing provides a tangible mark on the world.

    Now that you’ve learned all the benefits of journaling, it’s time to start writing a journal:

    Featured photo credit: Kelly Sikkema via unsplash.com

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