How to Avoid Looking Like a Tourist in a Foreign Country


Over the past few years, I have visited many foreign countries where I don’t speak the local language. Many times, I am often mistaken for a local and get asked for directions to places. If I can understand what they’re saying, I will help but it usually ends in a language barrier. You will want to avoid looking like a tourist to avoid street scams. Scammers are out there looking to prey on unsuspecting tourists. Here is a list of things to consider on how to avoid looking like tourist in a foreign country:

Learn the Local Language – If you aren’t fluent in the local language, try and attempt to learn some words. Just Google typical phrases in (language). If you want to up your game, try and take a class. I heard Rosetta Stone works wonders and there are also cheaper alternatives available.

Don’t carry paper maps – Try to get to know where you’re going. Familiarize yourself using Google Maps. Google Earth and Street Views work wonders and I can spend hours just viewing the typical streets. With technology these days, having a GPS on your phone works wonders.

Walk Fast – Try and walk fast like a New Yorker. If you know where you’re going or look like you know where you’re going, it’s going to be harder for someone to spot you as a tourist.

Put your wallet in your front pocket – This is very important for men as putting your wallet in the back pocket will often lead to pickpockets. They do sell security wallet belts that you can hide underneath your clothing.

Avoid confrontation from strangers – Just walk away if someone comes up to you. Of course, this goes back to “Learn the local language”. The least you can learn is how to say “No” and “No Thanks”.

Do not wear a camera – You will look like a tourist if you have a large camera with you that is strapped around your neck. Even I look like a tourist with my cell phone snapping pictures, but that’s okay. The point of this is to not carry big professional cameras like SLR’s or any type of neck cam. A cell phone to take pictures works wonders.

Shoes – Do not wear those big sandals since they are a dead giveaway that you’re a tourist. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, google “Tourist Sandals”.

Did I miss anything else?


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Points Summary
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3 Comments on "How to Avoid Looking Like a Tourist in a Foreign Country"

  1. Just knowing how to say “No, thank you” [technically, “No, I do not want, thank you”] in Mandarin was very helpful in China! búyào xièxie [roughly pronounced “boo-yeow she-she”] Not only does it help keep the pressure salespersons back, it seems to help as a step in good bargaining.

    Tip: Like your shoes tip, I try to wear clothes typical to the locale and in a manner so that I don’t stand out, e.g. neutral colors w/o writing on clothing. Look nice, but not flashy, thus not a target for scammers, criminals, sales pushers, etc.

  2. I keep saying “boo-you xie xie” in front of my hotel room in Shenzhen, China. to a beautiful young lady, she seems don’t understand it, keep asking if I want it.

  3. Also, before leaving home, make sure no clothing has any of one’s own country pins or flags sewn into bags, or tags on suitcases either. Great tips though. Always travel rather obscurely. Spent about 9 days in Paris, speak little French, also in Madrid with only Poco Espanol, and blended in with crowds on streets & on Metro in Paris. Just kept very quiet unless asking questions in stores or ticket counters.

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