You’ve probably heard this before. There is a certain way to dress to look like a local. Well, I don’t agree, well not totally. I live in New York City and yes, I know that NYC is unlike many places but people dress differently. Yes, there are some extreme cases that are strictly “only in New York” but there is no one way that makes you look like a local. It doesn’t matter what you do people will know that you are not from there. If they don’t know immediately, they will quickly find out if they talk to you. There are some things you can do to not make yourself so obvious and I can help you with that. It’s not so much about what you wear, but more about what you do.
Mistake #1, not dressing for the season. I have done this and you probably have too. For example, it is winter and you live in a place where cold means below freezing and you’re heading to a place where winter means a light breeze. You think, “yeah, it’s going to be nice and warm, I won’t even bring a jacket. WRONG! You bring that jacket because all the locals will be wearing one (if you care about that). I remember wearing sandals and shorts on my first day in Italy, it was the end of March and I was coming from a place that was significantly colder than Italy. I was a little embarrassed because every person I saw that was local had jeans and closed shoes on. I didn’t wear those shorts again until June, I don’t know if the Italians ever did.
Mistake #2, not knowing where you are going. I try to avoid using physical maps when I am traveling, I had no choice in Mexico, ugh. The biggest thing that can make you look like a tourist is standing on a street corner looking at a map. I suggest studying your map before you head out or download a map onto your phone. Or if you are like me in Mexico, right down things in a notebook or notepad. If you are outside and you really are feeling find a bench and discreetly open your map, do not open your map like its a bed sheet.
Honestly, don’t worry about this stuff too much because many people look like foreigners to some people even when they aren’t *cough* me. All that being said, don’t let things like this keep you from having a great time. Be smart but know that the locals are not all trying to get you. If you want to take a picture on a random street that locals might think you’re a weird foreigner for, take it anyway, it’s your trip and you may never see it again. Don’t worry about locals and trying to trick them because no one cares that much and you will look foreign either way.