Did you know that yesterday was World Tourism Day? I didn’t… till Twitter told me. Those trending hashtags always keep me in the know!
Sooooo, in honor of #worldtourismday (better late than never, eh?), I thought I’d write a quick post on how NOT to be a tourist – just to challenge the norm.
When I travel, I prefer to blend in. To look, act, live like a local for however many days I’m in a place. A tourist by technicality only.
I said this would be quick, so I’ll get to it. These are my top tips for channeling those non-tourist vibes:
1. Choose Airbnb over a hotel
Think about it. Walking in and out of a hotel lobby basically screams I’M A TOURIST! How could it not?? Instead, think Airbnb. Find yourself a (probably) less expensive apartment in a (probably) more ideal location, and you’ll not only look less like a tourist, you’ll feel less like one, too!
2. Avoid eating at chain restaurants
Unless you’re a diehard Hard Rock pin collector or are saving to splurge on a Gucci bag from Italy, steer clear of shops and eateries you could find in any major city or airport. For authentically local experiences, hit up places filled with people who look and speak like locals. Typically, any place NOT near a major tourist attraction or main thoroughfare is a safe bet. (And, you’re less likely to be ripped off or pickpocketed!) Planning ahead helps here. You really can’t overuse Google and TripAdvisor.
3. Respect the culture of the place you visit
Whether traveling domestically or internationally, brushing up on your destination’s cultural norms—and language!—isn’t just about being non-touristy. It’s also the courteous visitor thing to do! Learn a few common phrases in the native language. Find out if, where, and how much you should tip. The more you know, and the more open you are to learning, the less you’ll look like an ignorant outsider.
4. Wear clothing that doesn’t stand out
First impressions are shaped largely by clothing, so what you wear matters! Wanna look like a local? Take into consideration where you’re headed when you pack that suitcase. That’s not to say you need to completely change your style to match your destination’s. But, you may want to leave your favorite game day tee at home. And don’t even think about wearing an airport souvenir shirt. Just say no. Reserve those for places where clearly EVERYONE’S a tourist.
5. Use your phone
A map is like a blinking neon sign: I’M A TOURIST. Instead, use Google Maps on your phone and pretend you’re scrolling your social media feed like everybody else. No WiFi? Download all the maps you need before you leave.
And, if you do know where you’re going, actually checking Instagram on your phone or messaging a friend still works to make you look pretty normal—unless you’re in an area where NO ONE is using a smart phone.
Do you prefer NOT looking like a tourist, too? What other tips would you add to my list?