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.

Stepping on Mighty Mo

Stepping on Mighty Mo

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.

 

Purse in Front

Purse in Front at Buckingham Palace

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.

Camera Jackie at Amroth beach

Camera Jackie at Amroth Beach, Wales

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.

 

DayPack

DayPacking it to Amroth, Wales

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.

Merrells in the Library of Congress

Merrells in the Library of Congress

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.

 

Safe Foods!

Safe Foods!

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!

 

Next: Sweet Things About Staying in Saundersfoot