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How To Avoid Looking Like A Tourist In A Foreign Country

Posted by Emily Cummings on 12/14/16 12:19 PM

ILP China

There's nothing wrong with being a dorky tourist...but that makes you an easy target (which you don't want). Here's how to look more saavy and fit in when you travel.
The fear of not being safe has kept some from fullfilling their travel dreams, but that doesn't need to be you! We've helped thousands of volunteers safely live abroad — knowing how to fit in can help you out while you live abroad. 

Our experience can help you solve so many of the things that keep you from volunteering abroad if things like money are standing in your way. 

You will know how to look just like a local while traveling, just as long as you keep these rules in mind while packing and traveling abroad: 

  • No Flip Flops
  • Dress Like The Locals
  • Be Discreet
  • Learn The Language
  • Quiet Down A Bit 

No Flip Flops 

Sorry to break it to you, but other countries don’t really wear flip flops out and about in public. In fact, in Asia your favorite beach sandals are worn as shower shoes! Grabbing your favorite pair of flip flop sandals in certain countries is going to peg you as “American” from a mile away.

Pack up your flip-flops to use in the shower during your semester abroad or solely for beach days. 

ILP Thailand

Dress Like The Locals

Want to look Parisian on your weekend trip? Plan on doing some shopping while you are abroad to really fit in and literally dress like a local. Some of the best souvenirs I’ve taken home from my trips are things I wear, whether it be a cool leather backpack or an awesome pair of pants…but when in Russia, don’t miss out on these 5 souvenirs you should bring back.

Also, you’ll be chastised by everyone on the Russian metro if you aren’t dressed up in a hat, scarf and gloves during the colder months. 

ILP Russia

Be Discreet 

Fit in with the crowd and throw your passport in a cute purse instead of a money belt (know these passport safety tips before you do, though!). Step into one of these chic cafes to hop onto the WiFi to upload a map instead of wandering around with a map. Get clear directions so you know where you're going and avoid looking confused while you're living in Lithuania. 

ILP Romania

Learn The Language 

Learning a few key phrases can help you fit in no matter where you are in the world. Snag a guidebook and memorize some basic conversations and practice them while you are out and about. Even if you aren't perfect with your pronunciation, people will appreciate your attempt to speak their language.

The ILP program is set up so volunteers have culture classes which can help you learn a language while you're living abroad. 

Think about it: You’ve got a great chance to learn basic Spanish by traveling somewhere like Mexico, where you pretty much have it all — think gorgeous beaches, tasty food, great souvenirs and a language that is pretty easy to learn.

ILP Mexico

Quiet Down A Bit

Americans are notoriously pretty loud…but it’s hard not to get excited when you are traveling around Cambodia, right? While you might not be able to fit in with your blonde hair and blue eyes, you can cause less of a stir by quieting down a little bit. Be respectful at religious and holy sites and save the loud cheering for a Chinese soccer game. 

ILP China

Of course, you can always fit in a bit easier by living somewhere as a volunteer instead of just visiting for a week or two! I mean, I never looked like a local while living in China with ILP, but I certainly got know my way around the city and culture (that could totally be you). 

Get more info about what life in China is really like and by checking out the button below! 

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Topics: Travel Tips, Life Abroad, Semester Preparation

Exploring The World For Over 25 Years

Hi! We are ILP, a non-profit org that has service abroad opportunities for college-age volunteers. Check out our tips for making the most of your time traveling and living abroad.

ILP Semester Abroad

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