You are a tourist but you need not be so obvious – try the ‘blend in’ tactic.
It’s funny that we recognise other tourists when we are travelling, there’s a certain gauche appearance to some, a gawky look to others, a ‘look at me’ image and a ‘I don’t care what the culture is, I’m wearing this’ attitude, and we see someone who had no idea what the weather was going to be like and is inappropriately dressed for the current climate. And then we pass a window and see our reflection . . .eek! Let’s address the dress code.
I can always pick the older Aussie male traveller (and the older Americans too). The big white sneakers and socks pulled half-way up the calf and the men are wearing shorts.
Now, shorts are fine in the tropics, beach resorts or cruise days. But. You are a standout tourist in sophisticated cities.
For ease and comfort while being a tourist, try to blend in.
Wear it well!
Nothing shouts ‘tourist’ more than bulky sneakers, a backpack with a logo, and sometimes a bad hat – think foldable, terry towelling or canvas. And garments sold as ‘vacation wear’ marketed to travellers are dead giveaways. Locals do not wear zip-off pants in khaki or colours as muddy as that.
If you’re travelling for a couple of weeks, invest in a good Panama hat (the authentic Panama’s roll up nicely and you can wear them for years) or wear or a subtle baseball cap. OR just buy a cheap hat in Asia and ditch it before you depart the country.
And don’t wear loud T-shirts or sweat shirts announcing that you’re an Aussie. No political messages or what you deem amusing either. For men and women, plain T-shirts and cotton classic shirts.
If in a cold country, don’t look as if you’ve never known cold before. A good parka and a classy scarf and warm hat helps you blend in. You don’t need to be in a Michelin Man puffer jacket, unless you’re in Siberia in the winter!
And never wear a bumbag (or as the Americans call them ‘fanny packs’), they not only spell tourist, they spell ‘person with terrible taste’, they are a crime against fashion . . . and humanity.
Conclusion: avoid bright colours and logos, electronic gear in plain sight and glittery jewellery.
Sometimes we can be rather overdressed.
Pack a couple of smart outfits to wear if you are to attend a concert or splurge on a fancy restaurant. You’d be surprised at how many travellers turn up to the opera in Vienna or at the theatre in London wearing what looks like yesterday’s borrowed bushwalking gear!
Now, this is a good look.
Where you go
The art of blending in is best achieved by quietly fitting in without anyone noticing. Begin without walking around with a giant map in your hands. Use a map on your phone and don’t stop in the middle of the street, road, a crowd to consult your phone map. Find a quiet spot to find your bearings.
Embrace the art of ‘slow travel’. Don’t rush everywhere to see everything. Enjoy long, slow breakfasts in local cafes or leisurely picnics in parks. And on the perimeter of tourist sites you’ll be less of a target for pickpockets.
Sometimes it’s hard to blend in.
In Paris? London? New York? Book a haircut at a fancy hairdressing salon. You’ll look and feel a million bucks.
Need a new coat? Hit the sales in Los Angeles or Las Vegas at the amazing Outlet stores or sale time in Milan. Yet again, you’ll look as cool as a local and you’ll bring a beautiful garment home with you.
And chaps – ditch the baggy-bum Dad jeans – buy yourself some new jeans (preferably dark blue or black) and some fashionable chinos.
And if you have to wait for a bus in a foreign land, just dress to impress.