How To Fit In Like A Local

When traveling, especially to another country, we all have habits, tendencies, and expectations that may not line up with the culture of our destination. Some may lead to a harmless faux pas while others highlight us as targets for criminals.

However, a little research and open mind may help you fit in and have a deeper, richer, more authentic experience. Here 11 tips for how not look like a tourist while traveling abroad.

Rent An Apartment In The City
Hotels are handy, but if you can rent an apartment, it will enrich your experience. Immerse yourself in a neighborhood.

Skip The Touristy Spots
Although the city is packed with touristy spots many of them can be skipped. Often times they are overpriced, the lines are long, and the attraction is overrated. You can appreciate the landmark from another locations. Think of the Effiel Tower in Paris and all the different places around the city it can be seen. Don’t let the long lines fool you, Just because it’s long, doesn’t necessarily mean an attraction worth paying the extortionate rate to get in.

Forget The Cabs
Avoid taxis if you can, try to take the metro or walk. Metros are pretty reliable, and you are less likely to get ripped off as the fare is already set. There are plenty of apps out there to help you navigate different public transportation systems.

Shop At The Market Every Day
With our large refrigerators, Americans don’t shop daily. But if you want to experience what many locals do in large cities, shop at the market daily. The food is fresher and often times you will meet locals who are willing to share tips and recipes. You might even meet expats who can direct you to the best local eateries or those “just can’t miss” places to visit that are off the beaten path.

Don’t Be A Picky Eater
It might seem weird to eat your French fries with mayo or with gravy but requesting stereotypically American condiments tell the restaurant you aren’t there to experience the culture. This is the time to break out of your comfort zone and experience culture through food. DO NOT eat at an American chain. You didn’t fly to Croatia to eat at KFC. Seriously, don’t be that guy or girl.

Take Your Reusable Bags When Shopping
Many large cities take reducing, reusing, and recycling very seriously. Often times they will even charge you for plastic bags. We could all benefit from a little less disposable plastic, take your own reusable shopping bag.

Take Time To Relax
Americans are terrible when it comes to relaxing. We think we look lazy if we take a break, vacation, or make time for leisure. We live to work; it’s a terrible habit. Most countries take their time off much more seriously and use it to take care of themselves. Healthy, happy, well-rested people are much more productive. Take time out of your non-stop schedule to rest and chill.

Consider What You Wear
If you want to fit in like a local, keep the sweats, yoga pants and pyjamas at home. Nothing screams “American Tourist” like our over logoed, super comfy get-ups. Don’t wear your slippers, bling, fanny pack, or skimpy tops either. Not only is dressing like an American Tourist unsafe (as it makes you a target for pickpocketers) it just makes you look bad. Take good walking shoes instead of sneakers. Keep logos to a minimum and dress conservatively. Respect the religious culture of the places you are going to.

Hide Your Camera
Of course, you’ll want pictures of your travels. Who doesn’t? Use your tote bag to keep your camera tucked out of view. Keep the snaps to a minimum, try to be as discreet as possible, and wait until you’re back “home” to review your photos. The camera around your neck is an invitation for thieves. Keep your guidebook tucked away for the same reasons.

Keep It Down
Americans are probably the loudest people on the planet. We are hearty in our greetings and animated when we talk. Consider your volume and manners. Be careful about oversharing and don’t give away sensitive information.

Study Up
Research the place you are going to. Know the local customs, culture, dress, and etiquette before you go. A little research can go a long way. You do not want to make a social faux pas. Knowing ahead of time what common hand signals they find offensive can help you avoid social blunders. Make a concerted effort to learn a few words in the local language (please, thank you, hello and goodbye). The locals appreciate the effort, and it makes you look less like an “ugly” American tourist.

What do you do to avoid looking like a tourist abroad? Share with us in the comments below. Thanks for reading and don’t forget to follow me.

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