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13 May

Ways to Avoid Looking Like a Tourist Around the World

Something everyone wants to avoid during international travel is being outed as a tourist. The best experience comes from being able to blend in and not be treated differently for being a foreigner or accidentally committing a social or cultural faux pas on accident. The question then becomes, “What can I do to avoid looking like a tourist?”

Everyone knows when you travel you shouldn’t dress like a tourist, but what are some other things around the world that might shock a traveler from another country? Customs will be different in every country, and here are some eye-openers experienced by other travelers:

  • In Finland, an exchange student from India was shocked to discover that mixed-gender saunas were a thing, and then after a sauna, rolling in the snow is common.
  • A traveler in Ethiopia recounted when she was working for the Peace Corps and was staying with a family. They made her a dinner of white rice and copious amounts of salt (they heard Americans liked salt on all their food.) Then they hugged her and told her they loved her. The traveler said you will never experience family love as they have in Ethiopia.
  • Taking an hour or two off in the afternoon is common in Italy.
  • The most trustworthy place to be a tourist would have to hands-down be in Iceland. Read this account from a traveler, “My friend and I were walking around Reykjavik, Iceland and we came across a stroller next to a small shop with a baby in it all bundled up. It was a bit brisk but otherwise not too cold. The issue was that there was no one near this seemingly abandoned child. We walked about 50 feet up and down the road looking for the parent of this child.

    Turns out the mother was just in the store across the street. It is perfectly acceptable to leave your unattended infant on the sidewalk apparently. Crime rates are so low in Iceland that the people there are much more trusting of each other I suppose.”

  • In Beijing, you might see something called the “Beijing Bikini.” Older men tuck the bottom of their shirts into the collar to expose their stomachs.
  • Do you want new friends? Go to Tanzania. A traveler that went there alone for a research project, realized very quickly that people on the street were walking up to start conversations. When they said, “Come to my house for dinner.” It meant right then. After a few months, the researcher said he went from knowing no one in Tanzania to calling dozens of people friends.
  • A traveler that spent two months in Malawi, Africa said it is not uncommon for men to hold hands as they walk together down the road. This is just an indication of friendship and not romantic involvement.
  • In Taiwan, don’t be surprised if you wake up in the morning to a garbage truck playing “Für Elise” as they do their rounds.

So there are a few of the things you might run into when you travel. Another good way to avoid looking like a tourist when you travel. Read about some of the cultural nuances of wherever you choose to visit and you’ll fit right in like a local.

And remember, before you pack, to take your passport and a visa (if applicable) with you. If you need your travel documents fast, the pros at Texas Tower Houston can handle going to the consulate for you and ship your passport and/or visa to you in mete business days. For more information on our services or get your US passport or visa expedited, give us a call today at (713) 874-1420.

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