Looking like a tourist means making yourself a target for thieves, but you can make yourself less conspicuous by following these tips.
Don’t wear a bumbag
The latest fetching bumbag may mark you out as a professional wheeler and dealer down at your local car boot sale, but it can land you in hot water abroad. Your bulging cash sack instantly proclaims you’re a tourist and bumbags are a notorious favourite with knife-wielding moped-riding criminals.
Never unfurl your map in public
Nothing screams “I’m a tourist” more than extravagantly unfurling a humungous map at the top of the Spanish Steps and publicly planning your own Grand Tour of Rome. Opt instead for a more discreet map, or a map app on your smartphone, and check it somewhere more private, like in a cafe or at a bus stop en route.
Don’t stroll around in your favorite football top
Doing your Wayne Rooney impression might be all the rage in your local pub – and indeed in many British pubs abroad – but it instantly singles you out as a foreigner on the street. It also hones in on your country of origin – not always a good idea.
Even if you’re not sure of exactly where you’re going, it is usually safer to stride with purpose, rather than dawdle awkwardly around on a street corner looking like a penguin in urgent need of the toilet. If you look like you don’t know where you are going, people will quickly pick up on the fact you’re not a local.
Avoid showing off your souvenirs
You may be very proud of your Kiss Me Quick hat or that giant wooden Zulu drum you snared after a hard haggle at an African market, but proudly displaying them in public will quickly single you out, so keep the presents and souvenirs hidden away until you get back home
Nothing says “tourist” quite like the incessant clicking of a camera. Photograph: Spiderstock/Getty Images
Never flash your camera
Having an expensive camera draped around your neck with a telephoto lens hanging to your belly button is going to give the game away. Restrict your David Bailey urges to the safer tourist areas. Your smartphone will do for quick snaps.
Avoid counting coins in public
Take time before you go, or at the airport, to get everyone familiar with the local currency. Having the locals muttering under their breath at the delay as you struggle to accumulate a euro in a painful collage of cent coins is bad enough, but you will instantly flag up your visitor status too.
Never leave anything in the hire car
We’re not talking just valuables, here – car hire leaflets, flight ticket stubs and maps are all clear indicators of your tourist status. In some countries, savvy car hire companies will help you stay incognito by hiring out unbranded cars without window stickers – don’t ruin it by giving the game away.
Don’t stare or point
You may well be spellbound by the diminutive old lady across the road walking noticeably faster than you – despite heaving a dozen copper pots on her head – but don’t drop everything to point it out to the rest of your party.
Don’t shun the local lingo
It is sometimes tempting to just muddle through by using loudly spoken English words and an extravagance of hand gestures to communicate. Learn a couple of basic words and phrases, though, and you might be able to mumble your way out of trouble – or at least make it sound like you are a more experienced expat