Some More Tips
Dressing appropriately while overseas not only makes it possible to fit in with locals and receive friendlier service, but it also protects you from standing out to pickpockets. When in doubt, look at what the locals are wearing. “The best thing a traveler can do is go to a local clothing store and purchase a couple of outfits — then no one will ever mistake you for a tourist,” says travel expert John E. DiScala (a k a Johnny Jet). Plus, your new wardrobe additions make great souvenirs.
Beyond watching what you wear, there are a few other things you can do to make yourself look like less of a traveler. For one, look like you know what you’re doing and where you’re going, even if you have to fake it. “Standing in the center of the block looking confused — or worse, unfolding a map — calls you out as a tourist,” notes Matthew Reames, who traveled extensively through Europe a few years back. “[Instead], pop into a coffee shop or something like this to give yourself time to pause and get your bearings.”
Be skeptical of hand gestures, both making them wearing clothing depicting them, because these can have different meanings depending on where you’re. In Bangladesh, for example, that the “thumbs up” gesture is deemed obscene. Since you may never know what certain images suggest in a different country, avoid them to keep from offending anyone. Visit Guide.CultureCrossing.net to read up on shared local gestures and taboos.
Sometimes even more important than how we look is what we sound like. Many Americans can be easily identified by their loud (and often complaining) voices. Keep your audio level low and your address polite, though this proposal can certainly be applied to travel anywhere, even within your own home town.
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–written by Erin Gifford