Traveling Thursday – You are not a European*.

When traveling it is not a good idea to select clothing, jewelry or accessories that made you stand out. By blending in, you become less attractive to pickpockets and other criminals.

With that said, your efforts to blend in shouldn’t ruin your vacation. I once had a gentleman tell me that his feet were blistered and sore because his wife wouldn’t let him wear his regular white tennis shoes in Europe. She didn’t want them to look like Americans so their tennis shoes and jeans were replaced by loafers and a trendy all-black wardrobe. After offering the gentleman some band-aids, I had to sigh and shake my head. I understand where his wife was coming from, but she might have gone a little too far.

Research tactics for not looking like an American tourist and you’ll see that some make sense and should probably be followed. I agree with tips to limit logo apparel, ditch the fanny pack in favor of a money belt, be mindful of new personal space expectations, leave big pieces of jewelry at home, and slow down and enjoy the relaxed pace. It’s also nice to learn several key phrases in the local language. Your pronunciation is likely to be off but many locals just appreciate the fact that you’re trying.

Beyond that, you need to use your best judgment. Leaving your comfortable tennis shoes at home could cause you to miss part of your itinerary if your new trendy Euro-loafers aren’t broken in. The same is true for the no-sock advice. Some travel sites would even tell you not to be obvious about taking photos. Again, that’s up to you but if you’ve spent your whole life dreaming of seeing the Eiffel Tower, why stop yourself from taking 100 photos just because you’re worried about looking like a tourist?

Make the simple changes but think long and hard about the rest. I think most locals would agree that they’re much more interested in your attitude and willingness to try new things than your apparel.

*Unless you really are a European and then I’d love to know your thoughts on the topic.

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