We always prefer the word “traveler” instead of the word “tourist”. Somehow the word tourist got itself a bad reputation over the years. When you’re called a tourist, you automatically think of white sneakers, a large camera around the neck or the blockbuster flop with Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp.
As travelers, we humans, try everything possible to come across as an ordinary person that is here to discover, explore and learn from new countries. As travelers we won’t visit the Madame Tussaud’s or make the usual pictures. No, we want new stuff, exiting stuff and cool stuff. Nothing that tourist do. Right? All jokes aside, there are a few ways to blend in with the crowd and feel less like a tourist on your next trip.
1. Do your research
This doesn’t mean you need to plan every step ahead (because we’re all about getting lost) but it’s always a good thing to know where you are going. How is the climate? You will look a bit weird walking in your winter jacket in Hawaii or showing too much skin on a temple visit in Asia. Make sure you check local events so you can join the fun. People will be surprised if you know the local festivities and probably assume you live there.
2. Put that map away
We know it’s hard if you can’t find your way but try not to use these oversized street maps in public if you want to look like a traveler. Another option is to use google maps on your phone. Trick: load your directions when you have wifi and it will still be visible when you leave your location tracking on even if you’re off the internet.
3. Try to learn a few words
I was in Portugal recently and if I only knew how to say thank you (obrigado) in Portuguese, I would have gained a lot more respect. After learning a few words during our stay, I noticed the people trying harder to speak English and offer more help than they would usually do. Yes, this helps a lot. I can speak a few lines of Greek and it get’s me the good tables, smiles and sometimes a free dessert. Besides the perks it should feel nicer to be able to make an effort to the country that you want to discover.
4. Respect local customs
In Morocco you should bring a scarf and long skirt, in China you can burp after dinner and in the UK you shouldn’t make the peace sign backwards because you’re basically flipping them the finger. All countries have different customs and if we decide to visit them, we should respect them. If you don’t, you might get some funny looks which will make you feel like such a tourist.
5. Try not to look like a tourist
Ok, this is difficult. When we travel, we like to make pictures. Lot’s of them actually. I do at least. So yes, there will be a camera. But I do find traveling with a smaller camera more convenient and wow, my Samsung Galaxy S7 is really really amazing for pictures. (no, this isn’t a sponsored post). Try not to buy a beenie with Amsterdam written on it (paired with a embroidered weedplant) if you visit our city and try not to be that drunken tourist on Trafalgar Square in London. Those kind of tourist probably annoy you anyway so try not to be one.
6. Get the hell out of the way
Sorry but we, travelers, are always in the way. We can’t blame you in Amsterdam because bikes are literally coming from all directions so this is a bad example. But really, we are. Try to snap your pictures in a safe place and always check if the roads are clear! (this is for your own safety)
So next time when people ask you if you are a traveler or a tourist, you know who you are