In the former home-of-my-heart, Red Lodge, Montana, we used to have a word for the flocks of summer people who descended on the little town:
Tourons – a combination of Tourists and Morons.
What is it about people that sends us on vacation, packing everything but our brains?
We witness travel-zombies time and again and shake our heads in amazement.
Whether or not we looked like tourists on our trip to Wales, I’m not sure, but as soon as we spoke, our accents gave us away. Except for once when someone asked if we were Canadian. Right.
1. Step into footwear fit for what you’re doing.
I admit that I’ve looked unusual wearing my Merrell hiking shoes in Milan while the elegant Milanese women ride their Vespas wearing short skirts and stilettos. They must be born
They must be born being able to pull that off. At least I’m a practical looking tourist as I comfortably walk cobblestone streets by the mile. While touring the Battleship Missouri at Pearl Harbor, with tricky stairs and ladders, I saw a woman with one foot in a medical boot and the other…a flipflop. Did not seem logical to me.
2. Ladies, behold your bags.
In Madrid, we came upon two women walking with their purses hanging open. A local stopped to admonish their carelessness. It was no shock when one of them realized her wallet was gone.
Be cognizant and fasten up! A cross-body bag is a good bet, but that doesn’t mean you can let it hang there when you’re walking through a crowd. Keep a grip. If your klutz comes out to play now and then like mine does, a zipper will keep spills to a minimum.
A cross-body bag is a good bet, but that doesn’t mean you can let it hang there when you’re walking through a crowd. Keep a grip. If your klutz comes out to play now and then like mine does, a zipper will keep spills to a minimum.
3. Don’t shudder over your camera.
All the nonsense about don’t wear your camera around your neck? For Pete’s Sake. What about professional photographers? Do they not traipse around looking like photographers? Isn’t their equipment more expensive and worth stealing than my Nikon Coolpix? In this day of the smartphone and selfie-sticks, people everywhere are taking snaps—can you judge who’s local and who’s a tourist? Not so much. Go ahead and dangle that Canon.
In this day of the smartphone and selfie-sticks, people everywhere are taking snaps—can you judge who’s local and who’s a tourist? Not so much. Go ahead and dangle that Canon.
4. Daytripper carrying a pack.
If you’re on a hiking trip or planning to be out all day walking the hills of Prague, odds are you’ll be carrying a daypack. Not much way to avoid it, right?
Don’t put expensive things in it unless it’s locked and slash proof. No need to carry the kitchen sink when walking in cities—save those preparations for hiking trails.
5. Don’t get a dressing down.
Dress for the area you’re visiting. No baseball caps in Lyon, and you’ll blend in better. Vacationing in Hawaii usually means you’ll be wearing a tropical shirt at least once. Skip the white socks and Bermuda shorts and you could blend right in.
While my Milan-walking feet wore Merrells, the rest of me was in business casual. Save the athletic shoes and clothes for where they belong—in a gym.
6. Don’t dazzle with your bling.
Dressing nicely aside, leave the bling at home. Nothing screams “rob me” as much as flashy jewelry—from diamonds to watches to whatever.
Unless you’re at the Monaco gaming tables and live in that world, leave your valuables at home.
7. Free yourself from food fiascos.
Since I first started international travels in 1995, menus everywhere have evolved to spoil us by being available in English. That said, the smaller the town, the less likely an English menu will be available.
So be prepared. If you’re traveling to … Italy, where perhaps their cuisine is a bit more adventuresome than Pittsburgh’s, study keywords—do I really want to wind up with calamaro (squid) soup like that time in Genoa? I think not. If I can recognize “vegetarian,” I’ll be safe ordering anything. Okra really can’t be popular outside of Texas, right?
Settling into new places
We can look like tourists anytime we step off our usual beaten paths. The trick is to not stand out so much that you look like an easy target. In a day when so many people want to be the center of attention, don’t draw the wrong kind your way.
Let me know your tourist tips for fitting-in when you’re totally out-standing!
Remember these on your next trip & let me know your own tips!
Great tourist advice Rose Mary to keep us comfortable and from getting robbed. 🙂 I’ve been on a trip once and realized shortly into it I had the wrong footwear and started to be in pain. I ended up having to buy some orange Croc type shoes (all I could find at the moment) and had to walk around looking like Daffy Duck. Ugh. Better to plan ahead for what will be needed.
Susan, if anyone could pull off looking like Daffy Duck with aplomb, it would be you!
It is far better to blend in as much as you can when travelling. I doubt there are many pros for standing out as a tourist.
Great tips about carrying a cross bag with the body at the front and not the side. There are people just waiting for an opportunity to take a wallet or other personal belongings.
Phoenicia, I don’t know how to avoid standing out, but there are ways to lessen it. Not behaving stupidly is sure one of them.
I wish the woman with one foot in a medical boot and the other a flip-flop a speedy recovery from her injury.
As for my tourist tips, I would counsel a traveler to always be polite and on your best behavior and to never forget that you are a guest of the host location.
Well said, Andy–being polite is a no-brainer and yet…
As a former PI, I will say these are great tips, not just for when you are visiting a foreign city, but for everyday living.
Also, I would say about backpacks, if you EVER, EVER, plan on going on a hike somewhere, even if it is for a few minutes, take some emergency supplies with you, There is a fine line between having a good time in the woods, and being lost and being in an emergency situation.
You’re right about that, William. Always good to have lots of water and some snacks on hand. Not to mention a mini emergency kit.
Great post on being a tourist. Oh my gosh, the dangling open purse thing blows my mind. I used to live in NYC so I learned young never to tempt robbers like that. A good thief can steal from you when it is difficult. You definitely don’t want to make it easy for them or you’ll be a sitting duck.
Glad you got a picture with the woman in a boot and a flip flop. Too funny.
From NYC to LA? You are a national gal, Erica! Yes, we saw those 2 walking ahead of us and as I was pointing them out to my husband the local walked over and admonished them. We had an elder gent do this to us in the Milan Train station coffee shop–he berated us for not having our suitcases in front of us. We always do in the station itself, but we were just in line at the coffee shop. “no, no,” he said, “before you!” It was sweet.
Love your tips and living on an island with wall-to-wall touri as I do (at least for another 12 hours) I could share some stories! For example, I was driving back from Hana one day. Now this is a very narrow road with dozens of one-lane bridges and many areas (usually on the side of a cliff) with “Yield” signs because the road can only accommodate one car at a time. So I had just driven into this section with a Yield sign (the drop had to be at least 100 feet to the rocks and ocean below) and an idiot touri in his Mustang convertible proceeds to enter the same stretch of road from the other end without even slowing down. I see him but am too far into the stretch to safely back down and he still doesn’t get the situation he’s put us both in. We eventually meet and manage to pass (of course, I’m on the outside!) but so close I could literally reach out and strangle him if I were to run with my fantasy. By now he and his passengers are going through a mini freak out and as we’re next to each other I yell “If you somehow manage to make it home from this trip alive take a minute to look up the meaning of the word YIELD As- H–e!” 🙂
Oh Marquita! I can only imagine how livid (you, of all calm people!) got when that guy pulled that lousy driving maneuver. I really wonder how stupid people manage to survive in life. There’s no way around that action just being stupid.
Great to see a word that I loved to use often when an employee in Yellowstone 😉 Tourons do some crazy stuff, indeed. As for footwear, when I took a bus tour from Athens to the Temple of Poseidon out on Cape Sounion one of the tour members had on high heels and a nearly see-through mini dress. It was highly entertaining to try to watch her walk on the stone pathway, though of course she was all about having her friend take a bunch of photos of her.
Ha, Jeri! I love that you know Tourons!
Oh my, high heels and a transparent mini dress? Not the way I’d want to dress climbing around Greek ruins!
All good tips and mostly things that you’d think would be common sense, right? Which always leads me to wonder…who dubbed it “common” sense when so few display it??? Doesn’t seem so common to me… hmmmmmmmmmmmm.
So right, so right, Jacquie!
I guess it’s better to wear hiking boots in Milan than it is to wear stilettos on a hike in Wales.
That’s a righteous observation, Ken!
I don’t think it is bad to look like a tourist, but some of these things are just plain stupid. I was surprised to see so many people walking around with open backpacks or bags in Barcelona, a place renowned for its pickpockets. One should always be respectful of a place and culture and dress appropriately.
Donna, that doesn’t surprise me about the backpacks and Barcelona. People just don’t GET it.
Nice post! I am forwarding this to my mother. She will be visiting a friend out of the country soon. I’m sure she would appreciate some of this advice.
The tidbit about okra, ma’am, was completely uncalled for. It is a very delicious side dish. Don’t disrespect the okra! (I’m positive that my love of okra has absolutely NOTHING to do with the fact that I am, in fact, from Texas.) 😉
I’ll email you a link for another blog she might like: https://www.musingsfromaredhead.com/travel-surviving-long-flights/
Er, ah, duh–the okra was mentioned just for you my dear friend! Someday you may convince me!