Playing tourist, whether in your own city, in a city across the country or across the world is an ever-enlightening experience. Most people tend to travel in comfort, sporting sneakers and cozy denim amidst the locals. I personally prefer to blend in, doing research beforehand to ensure that I’m not dressing too formal or too casual. Here are my tips for not looking like a tourist while being a tourist in the top 5 destinations across the globe!
Traveling to London is on everyone’s bucket list. Arriving in London, no amount of research can prepare you for what you are to experience.
As an American tourist you may want to pack tank tops and denim cutoffs, but don’t whip them out here! The temperature may read as the balmy 60’s but perennially overcast skies and the harsh lines of a historic city shield it from any warmth, basically ever. Opt to wear understated leather footwear, thick jeans, and a sweater on top. London is a pretty sartorial city, but the locals favor their dark neutrals and basics over flashy attire.
Bonus Points: A classic but understated trench will have you blending in in no time.
A rising destination, this city is a hub of all of South America. It’s in the middle of the region, surrounded by culture and history, and a quick ferry away from historic Montevideo [Uruguay]. Locals in BA favor their leather, in the form of sandals, brogues, and bags. A well-dressed city, you will be picked out if you’re wearing any form of sneakers, whether on trend or not. And even though they’re leather, your southern cowboy boots are a no-go here, as they are used by farm workers and not city dwellers. Another tip-off of tourist is sunglasses. Visiting swelteringly sunny cities of Central and South America have proven to me that if you wear sunglasses it’s a dead giveaway of being American and light-sensitive. It may hurt for the first day or two, but you’ll get used to it!
Traveling to Asia as an American may be one of the hardest things to do. Americans are pre-disposed to stand out among the quintessential Asian character. Ways to fit in include dressing over the top. Tokyo is a heavily fashion and style inclined city, especially in its infamous Harajuku neighborhood. Showing skin, though, goes too far. Leave the short-shorts and tank tops in your suitcase and opt for conservative coverage and bold statements. Don’t forget that labels are a BIG statement there, so break out that vintage designer bag that’s too gaudy for America and rake in the compliments in Japan!
South Africa’s hottest city should be on one of your top destinations, if it isn’t already. This city bridges the best of the earth’s topography, with notorious mountains, beautiful blue seas, and all the amenities of a modern city. While it was originally settled by the Dutch, Cape Town is definitely Americanized, and very trendy. Wear what you would wear out in your local city! Shorts and sandals are great for a day by the waterfront or beach, while jeans and a chic top are perfect for nightwear. How to not look like a tourist, though, comes in being prepared. The locals know that once the sun drops so do the temperatures, so be sure to have a denim or leather jacket on hand.
Australia’s top destination is an easy one to blend into as a tourist. Australia is much like American cities; trendy, modern, and with the laid back attitude. Sydney is very “anything goes” similar in that you can wear anything from cowboy boots to lunch to heels for dinner. Just don’t look like a “classic American tourist” and you’ll be fine, that means no running sneakers, sweatpants, or Bermuda shorts.
And the most important key to not looking like a tourist? Speaking the language. Even if you just study a few everyday phrases, you will get by and be more accepted than if you don’t. Other countries joke that Americans know and only want to know, one language. Don’t be that American. Do what you can to fit in where you visit.
Where have you traveled to? What are you style secrets for not looking like a local?