14 ways to that make you stand out as a tourist

Holding a map and carrying your backpack will make you stick out like a sore thumb when you'd rather blend in.

Holding a map and carrying your backpack will make you stick out like a sore thumb when you'd rather blend in.

OPINION: Now is not a great time to be a tourist. There's a backlash taking place against the selfie-taking hordes in European hotspots such as Venice and Barcelona, where a tipping point has been reached.

Cruise ships keep arriving and disgorging their massive cargos of gawkers. Bus tours pull in and drain the local pubs dry. There have never been more people travelling than there are right now: tourists young and old flocking to hotspots around the world and exploring, enjoying, and, inevitably, making nuisances of themselves.

So what's the solution? Well, you could start by attempting to blend in. You could start by trying not to mark yourself out as an obvious visitor, by adopting local customs and being just a little less obtrusive. In other words, if you don't want to look like a tourist, you should avoid doing all of these things…

STAND ON THE WRONG SIDE OF THE ESCALATOR

At Tube stations in London, you stand on the right-hand side of the escalator.
GETTY

At Tube stations in London, you stand on the right-hand side of the escalator.

You'll only ever make this mistake once. At Tube stations in London, you stand on the right-hand side of the escalator, and walk on the left. Anyone attempting to walk on the right, or, worse, stand on the left, will be very swiftly put in their place by a few hundred grumpy commuters.

ONLY SPEAK ENGLISH

Can't speak the local language? Can't communicate in the common tongue? No dramas! Just speak English as you normally would, but louder. After all, everyone speaks English, right? They're just pretending they can't because they're rude.

CARRY A SELFIE STICK

A tourist with a selfie stick? Never!
ISTOCK

A tourist with a selfie stick? Never!

These wands of narcissism are the ultimate marker of a tourist – no local of any city would ever carry one. It used to be that you'd see the odd flag on a pole being held aloft by a tour guide leading their group around; these days there's a sea of sticks at every tourist attraction as the selfie-takers wait in queues behind each other to get that perfect shot.

READ MORE:
Summer lovin'? Not in angry Europe's tourist hotspots 
Travel agents share silliest complaints from travellers
Best places around the world to visit in the off-season

EAT TOO EARLY

There are only two types of people you'll ever see in a restaurant before 8pm in southern Europe: tourists, and locals who are still having lunch. They eat late in these places, often around nine or 10pm. Plenty of restaurants, in fact, seem to have two dinner seatings: one for tourists, around 7pm, and one for locals, later on. If you want to fit in with the crowd, go late.

WALK ON THE CYCLE PATH

Amsterdam is world's most bicycle friendly cities about a million bikes in the city.
123RF

Amsterdam is world's most bicycle friendly cities about a million bikes in the city.

If you hear the "ping!" of a bicycle bell while you're walking around Amsterdam, you're probably two or three seconds away from being mowed down by a large, elegant Dutch person on a pushie. Bike paths aren't obviously marked in the Netherlands, but the locals all know that you ride on the red bits of pavement, and you walk on the other bits. Anyone messing with that system is fair game.

Ad Feedback

TRAVEL IN LARGE GROUPS

It doesn't matter what their nationality is, any large group of people from the same country will be a nightmare when they travel together. They'll egg each other on, they'll feed off one another's complaints, they'll compare everything unfavourably to home. Large groups, particularly in Europe, are bumbling colossuses that just get in everyone's way.

GET DRUNK

Getting visibly, publicly drunk is something only tourists do.
123RF

Getting visibly, publicly drunk is something only tourists do.

There are a few countries that share our Anglo-Saxon love of getting extremely boozy – most notably, the Anglo-Saxon ones. Anywhere else, particularly in mainland Europe, but also in the Middle East and most of Asia, getting visibly, publicly drunk is something only tourists do.

DON'T HAGGLE

There are two mistakes you can make when it comes to haggling in Asia. One is to not play the game at all, to just buy everything at the first suggested price, and to be ripped off mercilessly. The other is to go too hard, to become obsessed with getting the "local price", to walk away from deals over the equivalent of 10 or 20 cents. Shoot for somewhere in the middle.

ASK TO PAY IN AMERICAN DOLLARS

Granted, not many travellers do this, but I've seen a tonne of Americans look surprised and even offended to find they can't pay for something in their own currency.

STARE AT A MAP

No one familiar with a city has to stand there looking at a map. For tourists, there are several ways around this. One is to memorise where you're going before you leave the hotel or café or bar. Another is to use Google Maps on your phone to look less obvious. A third is to just trust your instincts, and to be OK with getting lost.

WEAR ADVENTURE GEAR

Just because you're travelling, doesn't mean you have to deck yourself out in North Face and Kathmandu, the sort of stuff that's designed to get people up Everest, not across Paris. Just dress the way you would at home and you'll immediately be less obvious.

LOOK, DON'T BUY

This has been one of the biggest complaints from residents in Barcelona, that hordes of tourists keep piling into their local markets and taking photos of food, but never buying anything. If you're going to gawk, at least chat to people and buy some of their product.

CONCEAL A MONEY BELT

That bulge around your waistband isn't fooling anyone. You're not concealing your valuables – you're sending out a message, loud and clear, that you have them on you. Leave them in the hotel.

EXPECT EVERYTHING TO BE THE SAME AS IT IS AT HOME

This is the worst of tourist behaviour, complaining because the food tastes funny or the beer is warm, the locals won't accept American dollars, no one speaks English, the trains are too late or too punctual, everything is expensive, etcetera etcetera. Easiest way to fit in with the locals? Do as they do, and roll with the punches.

How do you avoid looking like a tourist?

Traveller.com.au

Comments

Ad Feedback
special offers
Ad Feedback