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We’ve all seen it: travelers dressed in overly casual clothes, their wallets sticking out of a pocket, staring at a map in the middle of the sidewalk. Tourists get a bad rap for being loud, disrespectful, and vulnerable to scammers and pickpockets. While being a tourist isn’t inherently bad, you should avoid a few stereotypical tourist practices whenever you travel. Learn how to avoid being a tourist and get the most out of your trip when you travel with these expert tips.
Explore off the Beaten Path
Tourist spots can be a highlight of your trip, especially if you’re only in the area for a few days. But these major attractions and businesses aren’t the only cool places around. Travel off the beaten path and explore some of the locally owned spots in the area, too. Visiting lesser-known attractions and small businesses is a great way to experience your destinations on a deeper level. Plus, shopping small while on vacation benefits the local economy and the community behind your vacation destination.
Be Discreet With Your Valuables
Pickpockets in busy tourist spots look for people with expensive cameras on display, smartphones loose and at hand, and wallets in obvious, easy-to-reach-places. Unfortunately, these red flags are all common travel behaviors. After all, cameras are great for capturing memories, your phone is necessary for directions and research, and you need money for everything you do.
It’s fine to have these valuable belongings on hand, but be careful with how you carry them around. Avoid big, bulky bags, as these are easier to steal and make you stand out in a crowd. Small, sturdy backpacks or crossbody bags are excellent choices. If you’re traveling somewhere that’s known to have pickpockets—such as a major city—use a bag with zipper locks or other security features.
Stay Calm if You’re Lost
Getting turned around or confused when you travel is perfectly normal. If you’re lost, the best thing to do is stay calm and act naturally. Don’t freeze in the middle of a crowd or draw a lot of attention to the fact that you’re lost. Instead, find somewhere you can sit or stand without getting in other people’s way. Take some time to look at a map on your phone and figure out where you’re going.
Don’t be afraid of asking for directions. While you want to avoid scammers and other people who are waiting to take advantage of tourists, most locals will be happy to point you in the right direction. Talking to locals is also a great way to get expert navigation tips and even recommendations about where to go and what to do while you’re in town.
Don’t Stress Too Much
Learning how to avoid being a tourist when you travel can make your trip even better, but don’t let the fear of being an out-of-towner keep you from enjoying the experience. Some people are going to know that you’re not a local. That’s okay! As long as you remember to travel smart, take care of yourself and your group, and be considerate of the people around you, you’ll be a conscientious traveler everywhere you go.