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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 September 20, 2018

    How to Stay Calm and Cool When You Are Extremely Stressful

    How to Stay Calm and Cool When You Are Extremely Stressful

    Being in a hurry all the time drains your energy. Your work and routine life make you feel overwhelmed. Getting caught up in things beyond your control stresses you out…

    If you’d like to stay calm and cool in stressful situations, put the following 8 steps into practice:

    1. Breathe

    The next time you’re faced with a stressful situation that makes you want to hurry, stop what you’re doing for one minute and perform the following steps:

    • Take five deep breaths in and out (your belly should come forward with each inhale).
    • Imagine all that stress leaving your body with each exhale.
    • Smile. Fake it if you have to. It’s pretty hard to stay grumpy with a goofy grin on your face.

    Feel free to repeat the above steps every few hours at work or home if you need to.

    2. Loosen up

    After your breathing session, perform a quick body scan to identify any areas that are tight or tense. Clenched jaw? Rounded shoulders? Anything else that isn’t at ease?

    Gently touch or massage any of your body parts that are under tension to encourage total relaxation. It might help to imagine you’re in a place that calms you: a beach, hot tub, or nature trail, for example.

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    3. Chew slowly

    Slow down at the dinner table if you want to learn to be patient and lose weight. Shoveling your food down as fast as you can is a surefire way to eat more than you need to (and find yourself with a bellyache).

    Be a mindful eater who pays attention to the taste, texture, and aroma of every dish. Chew slowly while you try to guess all of the ingredients that were used to prepare your dish.

    Chewing slowly will also reduce those dreadful late-night cravings that sneak up on you after work.

    4. Let go

    Cliche as it sounds, it’s very effective.

    The thing that seems like the end of the world right now?

    It’s not. Promise.

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    Stressing and worrying about the situation you’re in won’t do any good because you’re already in it, so just let it go.

    Letting go isn’t easy, so here’s a guide to help you:

    21 Things To Do When You Find It Hard To Let Go

    5. Enjoy the journey

    Focusing on the end result can quickly become exhausting. Chasing a bold, audacious goal that’s going to require a lot of time and patience? Split it into several mini-goals so you’ll have several causes for celebration.

    Stop focusing on the negative thoughts. Giving yourself consistent positive feedback will help you grow patience, stay encouraged, and find more joy in the process of achieving your goals.

    6. Look at the big picture

    The next time you find your stress level skyrocketing, take a deep breath, and ask yourself:

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    Will this matter to me…

    • Next week?
    • Next month?
    • Next year?
    • In 10 years?

    Hint: No, it won’t.

    I bet most of the stuff that stresses you wouldn’t matter the next week, maybe not even the next day.

    Stop agonizing over things you can’t control because you’re only hurting yourself.

    7. Stop demanding perfection of yourself

    You’re not perfect and that’s okay. Show me a person who claims to be perfect and I’ll show you a dirty liar.

    Demanding perfection of yourself (or anybody else) will only stress you out because it just isn’t possible.

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    8. Practice patience every day

    Below are a few easy ways you can practice patience every day, increasing your ability to remain calm and cool in times of stress:

    • The next time you go to the grocery store, get in the longest line.
    • Instead of going through the drive-thru at your bank, go inside.
    • Take a long walk through a secluded park or trail.

    Final thoughts

    Staying calm in stressful situations is possible, all you need is some daily practice.

    Taking deep breaths and eat mindfully are some simple ways to train your brain to be more patient. But changing the way you think of a situation and staying positive are most important in keeping cool whenever you feel overwhelmed and stressful.

    Featured photo credit: Brooke Cagle via unsplash.com

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