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Staying Safe On Vacation: Avoid Looking Like A Muggable Tourist

Staying Safe on Vacation

1. Avoid Wearing A Fanny Pack

I’ve never seen any non-American wearing a fanny pack.”

2. Don’t Get Your Map Out In Public

“I hesitate to mention this one because it’s so basic, but here goes. Study the map before leaving the hotel (or even better, before leaving home). That way, a quick look while walking around is all you’ll need to reorient yourself. If it turns out more detailed study is required, find a place to sit down or otherwise get out of foot traffic. And don’t leave your hotel without a map.” “If at any time we need to look at a tour book or a map…..we’ll step into a store….or another business to take a look…rather then pull the books out on the street corner.”

3. Be Adventurous In Restaurants

“Don’t seek out American chains. You’ll be disappointed anyway and you’ll miss one of the best things about travel. If you can’t understand the menu, just order something you can afford or ask the server to order the most popular dish for you. Don’t assume that street food is dangerous, just because the stall is built on used pallet boxes. It’s both healthy and delicious in many places.”

4. Don’t Wear Lots Of Jewelry

“We don’t wear a lot of jewelry. feel it is safer that way.”

5. Use Hotel Concierge Services

“We also use the concierge service at our hotels. We make sure we have a really good idea of where we are going before we step out of the lobby.”

6. Don’t Think Like A Tourist, Think Like A Student Of Culture

“The thing to remember is that what takes place on the INSIDE is as important as the outward trappings. You ARE a tourist, so don’t waste energy pretending to be a local. However, think of your self as a “participating and learning tourist” instead of an invader. Try to see how and why your hosts do what they do. Avoid comparisons with “how we do this at home.” If you want to do it the home country way, then don’t travel…stay home.”

7. Learn At Least The Basics Of The Language

“Learning even 4 or 5 words of the local language will open many doors. You don’t have to be fluent–just making that small effort brands you as a person of good will in most places. If you save those few words in your memory bank you’ll be surprised at how the service and portions improve when you use the words at a restaurant of the visited nationality when you are back in your home country.” “If I am traveling somewhere that English isn’t readily spoken, I always try to memorize at least a few key phrases in that language. Don’t be hesitant to try them out–in most cases, the locals are very appreciative and are willing to work with you.”

8. Never Look Up

“I live in new york – so local lore here is to “never look up” – so to speak – since tourists usually do.”

9. Don’t Wear White Athletic Shoes

“Shoes are a dead giveaway that you are a tourist. I try to wear shoes that are comfortable for walking but do not resemble athletic shoes.”

10. Don’t Wear Shorts And Tee Shirts In The City

“The other thing that I noticed is that many of the American women wore shorts out in public. The only local women I noticed in shorts were young teenagers.”

11. Wear A Lot Of Black

“One thing I try to do is to wear a lot of black or dark colors when traveling abroad. Folks in Paris, London, and other European capitals tend to wear lots of black, and as a tourist, you tend to blend in if you’re wearing it, too.”

12. Keep Your Voice Down, Be Polite And Smile

“Be very polite, even when complaining. People will then think you’re Canadian.” “Don’t speak as loud as you would in America.”

13. Wear A Few Local Accessories

“In Europe, wearing scarves as accessories also helps a woman traveller blend in.”

14. Leave The Baseball Cap At Home

“One of the things that was pointed out to me was that the American Tourist always wore baseball hats and were carrying backpacks. One day at a patio restaurant in Capri I paid attention and he was right. It was so easy to spot the American tourist. They were wearing baseball caps and had back packs.”

15. Get Yourself A Local Dog To Walk

“Best thing we ever did was when we were house sitting for a friend in Hawaii (I guess we weren’t really tourists!). We were also dog sitting, so being seen with a well-known local dog meant that everyone talked to us.”

16. Buy Clothes In Local Stores

“Bring few clothes, then immediately shop the local stores, and buy what you find there—clothing the locals wear. For example, in Rome, I noticed that many men wore black, wool, ribbed sweaters. One of those, and jeans, and you would look like 80% of the guys I saw.”

17. No Logos Or Slogans

“No slogans or sayings on the shirts…NASCAR does not fit in well in Europe. Wearing something like this begs the old question “And what did he pass up in his suitcase in favor of this?”

You feel lost without a cell phone back home, so staying safe on vacation with a Mobal World Phone is essential. Even if the worst happens you’re covered with Mobal World Phone Insurance.

If you have any more advice please leave it in the below comments box.

 






28 thoughts on "Staying Safe On Vacation: Avoid Looking Like A Muggable Tourist"

  • Milton Brooks says:

    The tips to not try to look like a tourist are silly and make you look more ridiculous. Be a polite tourist sampling the area, customs,food and language of your location. Keep your camera out and be surprised how often you are invited to take pictures.

    I do carry what I call a mugger wallet in my back pocket the same as home. It has expired ID and credit cards and misc items plus 3 or 4 one dollar bills to look real. If confronted it can be given up by throwing it and heading in the other direction. Using the top advise that wallet is still with me 20 years and many trips later.


  • Shane says:

    Great advice. I would agree with all that especially speaking the language.
    Also, don’t have your cameras dangling out of you as you go around.


  • Don Wylie says:

    I disagree with recommendation #3 If McDonalds (or whatever) are plentiful in the city you are in, do go in even if only for a cup of tea or coffee. The locals you will see there (and perhaps get to talk with) will be a very different part of the culture than what you will be with in a restaurant. More so than in the U.S., they will often be the young adults who tend to be spirited, funny and friendly.


  • Victoria Blackwell says:

    I’d like to add…
    With today’s high quality pocket-sized digital cameras, it’s easy now to ‘hide’ your camera in an inside shirt pocket or hidden on your body elsewhere (away from possible pick-pocketing). Then, quickly pull it out for a photo opportunity, and return it to the pocket. No ‘tourist camera’ hanging around your neck as a dead giveaway.


  • Jean Leventhal says:

    Most of these are terrific (and the illustrations are great), but I think the “don’t look up” is silly. I’m a New York native (now living elsewhere), and even when working in the City 40 years ago, I realized that looking up above the ground floor in NYC introduces one to marvelous architectural details on every block. Too bad if many of the locals miss these, but visitors shouldn’t.


  • John Clark says:

    Useful tips, all. Buying a loaf of bread and a bottle of wine in a local shop helps, too. In Europe, a Gottmann or Kangol motoring cap is a blend-in substitute for the sore-thumb baseball cap. If driving a rental car, put a small logo of a host-country F1 racing team (Ferrari, Mercedes, Renault, etc.) on the back window and leave a copy of a local newspaper in the back seat. Tiny digital cameras can remain pocketed when not in use. Haven’t yet found a way to carry my larger digital SLR inconspicuously, though.


  • Mireille Grovier says:

    These are wonderful suggestions. We travel quite a bit. Women should dress as ladies, not as beach bums. Dresses suggest culture, and a little bit of jewelry in the evening (preferably costume for safety,) is a good idea for opera, theatre and ballet). Definitely learn a few words in the language. And remember that, no matter how much money you are spending in any given country, YOU are the GUEST. Act as you would if you were a guest in a private home. Show respect for the residents of the host country and their customs. Your educational experiences will be invaluable, and your memories will be glorious!


  • Paul says:

    I don’t dig the dog idea…I’m not a dog lover and I wouldn’t want to worry about walking and feeding schedules while on vacation. One other recommendation, along the lines of the “no sneakers or athletic shoes” rules: DO NOT wear white socks, whether you have on shorts or pants. Europeans always have a colored sock on no matter what their footwear is. White socks scream out “American tourist that looks silly!!!”


  • Andy says:

    People are mugged or robbed because they have sometthig to steal:

    1. Keep your wallet, a.k.a Billfold in America in your front pocket, not your back..

    2. Store camera in backpack, not hanging on neck.

    3. Look at people, people that are getting ready to much do not want to be notice. A confident person does not get mugged.

    There, up to twenty.
    Andy of HoboTraveler.com in Guatemala.


  • Tom Worrell says:

    Thanks for the travel tips. Travel light, buy locally. Leave the baseball cap home.


  • Kathryn says:

    I travel to Greece every year and is reson I purchased my Mobal phone. This suggestion/hint is soooo true!! You can spot the tourist a mile away..I stay and go with no one but my Greek friends and I always pay attention to what I carry and wear there.
    Good Hint for the travelers.


  • Carol Arnold says:

    My husband is bald, and always feels exposed without a hat, but waits till he gets to Europe and finds a short brimmed (non ball-cap ball-cap) hat the locals wear. On Lake Como, he bought one off the head of the young man who delivered us to our hotel!

    And ladies, wear your scarves like the locals! Each area has a “look.” EX: In Slovenia it was long and thin and wound around & around the neck, with only a tiny tail out the back; in Italy, long scarves are folded in half and the loose ends tucked thru the loop made at the fold.

    GET out of those trainers! of any color…

    Wearing black is also great for packing: everything works together. But spice it up with cool, non- bling: wood beads, loose scarf, and great earings.

    The map business: Rick Steves has been talking about it for years: cut the guide books and maps apart! keep ’em small and inconspicuous. take only what you need for today. Sit and have a coffee and write a note in a sketch book, while checking directions. ?Buy a hand-held GPS and check it inside the church, not at the corner.
    Have fun!
    CAA


  • Julie Furlanetto says:

    Try not to make your camera equipment too obvious.


  • Julie Furlanetto says:

    What about all the camera gear…


  • Mike Skele says:

    Forget all the above. You’re a tourist and everyone will know it. Just be polite and considerate, and be open to new experiences. And don’t make your stuff easy to steal.


  • Flora Breidenbach says:

    Hello,

    Having traveled to over 70 countries outside the U.S. and having taken groups of adults and college students abroad, I applaud your choice of Do’s and Don’ts to avoid getting mugged abroad! However, I think the comment under picture #6 should be changed (Don’t Think Like a Tourist, Think Like a Student of Culture). The remark: “You ARE a tourist, so don’t waste energy pretending to be a local” is contrary to the comments under the other pictures, which say the traveler SHOULD TRY TO LOOK LIKE A LOCAL. Looking as much as possible like a local is the KEY to being safe in a place! The rest of the remarks under picture #6 are well taken. We should learn as much as possibile about the culture(s) of the place we are traveling and not make comparisons with our own. As I’ve told students: “If you want everything to be like Naperville, then stay in Naperville.”


  • Jaimie says:

    My husband and I were having lunch at a beach club in Italy, had our English/Italian phrase book with us. Looked up everything we needed to say, like where is the toilet? I think the proprietor was pleased by our efforts to speak his language, so he gave us the use of two beach lounges and table for free. !!!


  • Syndi Seid says:

    Dear Sir or Madam:

    As you see I am in the etiquette profession. I just wanted to say how much I have enjoyed your tips and actually used a link to one some time ago in one of my own monthly newsletters. This is to say I trust you won’t mind if I do share your great tips from time to time by sharing a link to your tips. I don’t believe I am infringing on any copyright laws by this, but thought I would mention it anyway.

    Thank you.

    Syndi Seid, Owner


  • BJSANDMAN says:

    HERE ARE MY ADDITIONAL RULES.
    NEVER LOOK CONFUSED, USE CONFIDENT BODY LANGUAGE.
    BE AWARE IN BUSES AND SUBWAYS. A GROUP OF PEOPLE PRESSING AGAINST YOU ARE MORE LIKELY TO PICK YOUR POCKETS. STAY TOGETHER TO PROTECT EACH OF YOUR POCKETS.
    DON’T KEEP MUCH MONEY IN POCKETS, ONLY THE AMOUNT YOU CAN LOSE.


  • H.L. Marks says:

    I’ve always worn a dark suit and tie during our extensive travels. Service is consistently excellent, respectful and you’re made to feel welcome everywhere; from the finest five star hotel to the local pub. I could relate many stories about the extra treatment we’ve received due to this practice. From free bottles of champaign when disembarking our plane to upgrades to a suite in hotels at no charge. I’ve always felt that if you dress average, you’ll be treated average and over the years this has certainly prooven to be true. (PLEASE DO NOT USE MY NAME. THANK YOU.)


  • KAREN says:

    WHEN I TRAVEL I ALWAYS TAKE 2 OVER THE NECK STASH BAGS. I PUT THEM OVER MY HEAD AND ALSO PUT MY ARM THROUGH THEM, THEN TUCK IT UNDER THE WAIST BAND OF MY SLACKS. ONE ON EACH SIDE. THIS IS WHERE I KEEP MOST OF MY CASH. IN MY PURSE I HAVE TWO SMALL CHANGE PURSES, ONE I KEEP CHANGE IN AND THE OTHER PAPER CURRENCY, JUST WHAT I FEEL I WILL NEED FOR THAT DAY. I NEVER USE HUNDREDS OR FIFTIES. I PREFER TO LOOK LIKE THE PICKINGS WOULD TOO SLIM FOR A MUGGER. I ALSO SUGGEST WOMEN TAKE A SELF DEFENSE CLASS, ONE THAT TEACHES YOU EASY WAYS TO GET AWAY FROM AN ATTACKER. I BELIEVE THAT ONCE YOU DO YOU FEEL LESS FEARFUL GIVING THE IMPRESSION OF A WOMAN OF CONFIDENCE & ASSURANCE RATHER THAN A WAITING VICTIM. I DO AGRRE WITH WEARING BLACK AND I WEAR BLACK ATHLETIC SHOES SO THEY BLEND IN WITH MY SLACKS.


  • mary says:

    this does not address travel in Africa or Middle East – much euro-central advice is just short of hitting the nail on the head for Israel/Syria/Egypt/South Africa etc…
    not criticizing, just looking for help on those regions — thanks for whatever!
    M


  • Gene Polhemus says:

    Only 1 negative comment about this article…….True lots of aAmericans wear Fanny Packs, however so do a lot of Orientals…especially the Japanese.


  • Patrick Baird says:

    In African Countries, woman are required to wear dresses. Shorts are jeans are only for hookers.
    My daughters and friends wear cargo shorts under the
    required “MooMoo” to have pockets for stuff and to help prevent being molested!


  • Betty Sheldon says:

    OK, I can understand not wearing T-shirts with logos, or shorts (anywhere), especially with knee-highs and silly Hawaiian-print shirts. I wouldn’t do that anyway, and I also wouldn’t wear or sport most of what’s warned against here anyway. No matter where you go, the locals KNOW from blocks away that you’re American. SO WHAT?! I’m sick of hiding the fact that I AM an American. I’m darned proud of it. I’m not sure what the whole point of this feature is. Seems pretty silly to me, except it might help some people who’ve never traveled outside the U.S. Most Americans overseas need a lesson in good manners, not what clothes to avoid.


  • Richard Sears says:

    Thank you for this information….it will be very helpful.


  • John says:

    For the most part I think these are right on the money. However I’d note that in my travels I’ve seen lots of non-American travelers carrying backpacks and looking up. You are never going to look like a local, in general just about any clothing you bring from another continent are going to mark you as a visitor so I’d stop worrying about that. An locals don’t generally carry backpacks anywhare — all their stuff is already where they are 🙂

    The advice about baseball caps and logo/slogan T-shirts is good. I wish everone would stop wearing the things 🙂 And if you must wear a d*mn baseball cap at least wear it with the bill in front like its designed — and take the d*mn thing off indoors and especially at the table.

    Look up all you want, there is a whole world above the sidewalk and if the locals don’t look up they are missing out.

    As a side observation this little collection seems to focus on Americans as bad tourists. I’ve traveled enough to know that the problem is not isolated to Americans, so how about more real suggestions and a little less gratuitous America-bashing, eh?


  • John Kantor says:

    I went through Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam wearing cowboy boots, a cowboy hat, and a western style slicker.



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