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7 Tips to Avoid Looking Like a Tourist

Many solo travelers describe their first trip as a life changing experience. You aren’t at the mercy of anyone else’s itinerary, you get to do exactly what you want, you’re independent, and get to explore your own thoughts and interests as you’re exploring a new destination. Be mindful of these tips to avoid looking like a tourist, so you can enjoy your trip without being an easy target for anyone that considers tourists an easy target.

1) Nothing screams “Tourist!” more than a face buried behind a thick Fodor guide. Read your tour guide in your hotel, decide what you want to see for the day, and then leave the guide behind. In fact, why not leave strict itineraries behind altogether and take in sights that aren’t in your original plan?

2) Pay attention to your clothes. Go ahead and stay comfortable, but remember: When in doubt, go slightly upscale with button downs and slacks over tshirts and denim. Neutral colors blend well in any country. Bright white sneakers, walking shorts, and colorful or cutesy tees are tourist trademarks.

3) As an independent traveler, make sure you walk with a purpose. Keep your head up and walk at a decent pace. Exude confidence, and you’ll appear as if you belong. Meandering or gazing confusedly from left to right make you an easy target for anyone looking to take advantage of tourists.

4) Just like with your tour guide, study a map before you leave your hotel. Sure, you may still want to bring it with you, but if you must bust it out, go indoors and do so discreetly. Or better yet, when traveling solo be open to getting lost and just wander.

5) Get your own mode of transportation: a bicycle, moped, scooter, whatever is feasible for the place you’re visiting. When your transportation is in your own hands you avoid the tourist trap of taxis – drivers will sometimes take tourists  for a ride just to make an extra buck.

6) Stay away from tourist shops. Gathering post cards and trinkets is a waste of money, and it’s not the best way to remember a trip either. Try keeping a travel journal instead, or draw sketches if you’re artistically capable. Collect weird souvenirs from the places you go, napkins with logos, matchbooks, or cup coasters, for example, and make a scrap book when you get back home.

7) Keep your camera under wraps. Of course you will want to take photos, but carrying your camera around your neck is the number one tourist giveaway.

If you want to find a travel partner to take in some of the sights with you on your independent vacation, be sure to check out the Travel Hub where you can coordinate dates and destinations with other solo travelers.