Travelling to foreign countries is exhilarating. There’s nothing quite as freeing as stepping into the unknown - bombarded with new scents, tastes, languages and experiences.
But travelling can also be scary.Tourists are often targeted by pickpockets, sucked into scams, or are downright unwelcome in some places.
To get a truly authentic experience -- and avoid being targeted by unsavoury types -- you need to blend in.
Fitting in when travelling is about how you present yourself and how you behave. Our top tips will have you acting like a local in no time, so you can have an amazing journey wherever you go.
The benefits of blending in
Most people you meet when you travel will be lovely, but the reality is that there are many out there who see tourists as walking ATMs. Looking like a tourist makes you a target. At best, you’ll get overcharged; at worst, you may have your valuables stolen or be a victim of more serious crime.
If you’ve made an effort to learn about and respect the local culture, people will respond to you in an overwhelmingly positive way. You’re more likely to be warmly welcomed, strike up conversations with locals, and be invited to experience a genuine slice of local life - giving your trip so much more value. You become a participant, rather than a spectator.
Top tips for not looking like a tourist
Do your research before the trip to learn what the locals wear, then do your best to match their style. Heading to a conservative region? Leave the hot pants at home. And before you hit the travel shops to buy breathable mesh shirts and zip-off cargoes, ask yourself if you’re likely to see the locals wearing those items!
Ditch the giant camera bag
Heading off on day trips sporting a huge camera bag is the equivalent of painting a great big target on your forehead. Choose backpacks and bags that fit your camera and other bits and pieces, but could be part of anyone’s daily outfit. If you're worried about thieves, get a crossbody Anti-Theft bag.
Say no to selfie sticks
This one is self-explanatory - have you ever seen a local use one? A big no-no for authentic travel!
Follow the locals
Opt for local transport over private cars; you’ll save money and attract less attention. Avoid fancy restaurants targeted at tourists and eat at small, local places. You’re more likely to get genuine traditional cuisine at a much better price. Plus, you’ll meet lots of friendly faces who can give you the inside scoop on where to go and what to do.
Learn the lingo
This is one of the most impactful things you can do when you travel. Even a few words or phrases can change the way you are perceived. People appreciate that you’ve made an effort - you’ll be able to strike up conversations, and not written off as another ignorant tourist.
Fake it ‘til you make it
Although there are some places in the world where it’s hard not to stand out because of your physical appearance, the truth is that it’s more about how you behave. Standing on a corner looking confused while staring at a map is a dead giveaway. Instead, act like you know where you’re going, and ask for help from the appropriate people.
Be respectful, don’t complain about things that are different, and do some pre-trip research into local habits and customs. These tips are simple to follow but will make a world of difference in the way you experience the amazing places you are fortunate enough to visit. Are you ready to immerse yourself in a whole new culture and feel like a local?