How many movies have you watched where there were Japanese tourists with a thousand cameras visiting wherever the movie was set? Ever run into that couple from a small midwestern town that could not have been more out of place in the big city? Have you ever walked into a bar in another country and realized that everyone knew you were an American (and hated you) just by looking at you?
Stop sticking out like a sore thumb (and getting local scammers all excited) when you’re traveling abroad by keeping the following in mind.
Do Your Homework
Yea, we don’t like to do it either; most of us are trying to get away from it when we go on vacation. However, if you read up on your destination you can get a good idea what the lay of the land is like as well as some local customs. Doing so will help you keep a low profile when you go wandering around.
Also, learn a little bit of the local language. If you are able to ask some basic questions (and understand the answers) they may never know just how much of a fish out of water you are.
Mind Your Manners
Ever wonder what the cabbies and locals are thinking whenever contestants on the Amazing Race are rude to them? They may not understand exactly how they were insulted, but body language alone speaks volumes.
No one likes to help a jerk. Sadly, many of us tend to forget that we are visitors in someone else’s homeland when we go on vacation. It is not the duty of every Mexican citizen to learn English just because we like to vacation in Cancun. Be polite whenever you deal with any of the locals. You will find that their directions are much better when you smile, stay patient, and say thank you.
Don’t be Obvious About Anything
When it is clear that you are a fish out of water, the vultures will begin to circle until you are weak enough for them to strike. You want to do what it takes to keep a low profile. Don’t stand around with a translation book trying to order a Coke at McDonalds. Likewise, opening up your map on the street corner screams tourist. Leave the ‘Cancun Rocks’ shirt for back home; when you are still in Cancun you just look stupid.
Show No One the Money!
The best shopping is always going to be with your local vendors and not the established souvenir shops. However, if you are not familiar with the local currency exchange rates you may find yourself awful angry when you find out what the exchange rate is when you get back to your hotel.