Being spotted as a tourist does not sound so alluring and attractive all the time when you’re in a foreign country. Talk about the constant onlookers having curious, amazed, shocked or offended stares, overpricing rates, unfortunate thievery among others- there are times when blending in with the crowd could serve as your armor. It is a safe, reliable and decent approach in dealing with an unfamiliar territory that can cover you when you don’t want unnecessary fuss. Here’s why you should know its importance and how you should do it.
1. Pack the useful items
Only choose the things that are mostly useful in your trip. Do not bring unnecessary things that can add up to your luggage especially those are just for the sake of style or brag. Choose items according to function and identify its purpose beforehand. Imagine being in your trip already and see if you can use such items practically. Would you need your red shiny heels over a pair of comfortable leather walking shoes? How about the stylish large velvet coat over your handy comfortable scarf? Choose wisely and weigh in each item’s convenience and stack them in your bag. If it’s not practical, put them back and leave it in your closet. You want to minimize attraction as much as possible so tone down those that are not really useful.
2. Avoid wearing flashy jewelry
As you need to blend in, there is no need to wear glitters or glitzy valuables in the trip. Expensive watches, necklace, rings, danglings, hoop earrings can be easily snatched when you find yourself in some unfamiliar places and increases the risk for harm. Pickpockets, thieves and shady people lurk even in a nice town so better to stay low than to stand out. Keep your expensive valuables at home to avoid your precious gems stolen.
3. Less of your expensive gadgets
Other items that identifies a person as a tourist is the presence of gadgets, especially branded ones. High-end cameras, latest smartphones, action cameras are attractive to the eyes of some who would sneakily do all their best to snatch it out from you. It is encouraged to use only those that are considered to be your main use for taking pictures or videos although it may not be the case for professional photographers. Try on bringing only the useful ones and limit if you can like a smartphone, tablet and a camera. You don’t need to bring all kinds of cameras unless you have professional stints to capture. If you have to, cover and enclose them in ordinary bags or packages that cannot be easily labeled as such. Use duct tapes covering the logos or make them look as old or used as much as possible.
4. Basic necessities
When you’re out for sightseeing, you do not need to bring all your identification cards, cheques, gadgets and documents with you. Only bring enough cash, one identification card- could be a driver’s license, your phone, camera and some handy toiletries like tissue or alcohol. No need to bring passport or VISA and other important paper for a sightseeing or night out in a foreign place. Just make sure these are kept safely in your hotel for your identification. Then, stick to bringing the basics for your fun and adventure. The less valuable items you carry in your pocket, the less worry and more relaxed and secured you would be.
5. Don’t be too obvious in protecting your valuables
As much as you want to protect your valuables, you should also keep in mind to relax. You are in a trip and you need to blend in to the environment you are in. Avoid drawing attention to yourself or asking for curious lurkers to smell something of value by constantly watching your actions or being too protective of your belongings. Looking out nervously over your shoulders, always checking your pocket if your wallet is still there or just by firmly clutching your purse to your chest are actions that scream you are protecting something valuable and important. By then, you just signal and made yourself an easy target for the day’s lookout. So, keep in mind that you are there to chill but being wise and alert should still be intact.
6. Be familiar of local customs
Another good way to blend in is to know the proper customs of the place you are visiting. Basic greetings, appropriate and inappropriate gestures, or even body language should be familiarized. For example, greeting friends and relatives in Latin America is generally through a hug or kiss. However, in United Kingdom, cheek kissing is not very common especially those outside of close family and friends, except for amongst the upper and middle classes.
Other relevant topics you need to be acquainted are tipping customs, manners upon entering a house and visiting ancient sites among others. Also, do not be too loud in speaking your native language as this is a sure ball catch you are a tourist. Other tourists can be so obnoxious and disrespectful by being too loud in their own tongue that locals hush and just stare at them to make known such offense. Keep your conversation in a tone that could not be heard at the next table, above whisper or stay in a hush tone if you are in a holy or respected place.
7. Dress appropriately
If you gear up on a hiking trip, then gear accordingly with your hiking shoes and hiking clothes. Unless you are in a winter trip, do not bring too much of heavy fur coats or jackets since a sweater can do.
Also, be modest in your appearance especially in visiting cultures that hold deep religious views. This is your sign of respect as a tourist since you would not be treated with exemption. Mostly, clothing that goes above the knee is prohibited for both men and women. Wearing sleeveless is not encouraged too among some churches or holy sites. To blend in, one must cover one’s shoulders and knees to gain entry or avoid unwanted stares. Keeping the feet and ankles covered are also a plus. Don’t wear plunging necklines, miniskirts, crop tops, tank tops, bralettes, shorts or even sleeveless and capri shorts. Save them for other trips when your skin needs to breathe like in beaches or when you are in a casual atmosphere.
If you were left unprepared, sarong, shawls or scarfs can help which are offered by some religious sites. But it would not hurt to bring one and show initiative during one of your visit.
8. Stay Open Minded
As you are an outsider who needs to blend in, have an open and tolerant approach to things that may come in your trip. This may apply to expectations unmet, inconveniences, delays or being frustrated in some of your encounters in the restaurant, along the road or wherever. Just remind yourself to have a space for consideration, patience and thought whenever you on the brink of screaming for your meal which you have waited for how many minutes or when there’s no electricity yet, such encounters will surely need your tolerance.
For more tips on how to travel safely, read 10 Tips to Travel Around the World Safely.