How to Not Look like a Tourist

Being identified as a tourist is generally not a good thing. Here's how to blend in with the natives.

You will need

  • Vacation plans
  • Some travel guides

Step 1 Research local customs Research the local cuisine and customs. That way, you won’t get punched for pointing your foot at someone in Thailand (considered extremely insulting) or laugh uproariously when someone in China offers you bird’s-nest soup.

Step 2 Dress appropriately in houses of worship If you plan to visit houses of worship, determine what is acceptable attire. Some may require that women wear dresses or that your head be covered. Complying is often not only a sign of respect—but your only way in.

Step 3 Learn key phrases Learn a few key phrases in the local language. Many tourists never bother to learn even the basics, so this will endear you to the natives and distance you from the tourists.

Step 4 Learn a few key phrases in the local Don’t pack a tracksuit unless you’re planning to jog. Nothing says ‘Tacky American’ like a velour running suit, which in some countries is like wearing your pajamas. And leave your, ‘I’m with Stupid ‘ t-shirt behind, too.

Step 5 Photocopy pages from your guide Make photocopies of selected pages from guidebooks so you don’t have to lug the entire book around.

Step 6 Don’t shout Speak at a soft but audible volume. Don’t fall prey to that bad American habit of speaking TOO LOUD in public places. Nothing betrays you faster than shouting, ‘HEY, MABEL, ARE WE USING PESOS OR LIRE TODAY?’

Step 7 Don’t do the pee-pee dance Don’t pantomime any body function requiring a restroom. In most parts of the world, ‘toilet,’ or a slight variant, is clearly understood and will resolve your need nicely.