Do you try to look like a local when you travel?

Or at least, not look like a tourist? I do try to NOT look like a tourist and I am wondering about two “flags” that I tend to wear that I would like to mail home. I usually carry a 15L backpack with my notebook computer, water and some tarallini or pretzels in it. I tried to find a similarly sized messenger bag to carry across one shoulder because it is something that I have seen men wear in Greece and Italy ( and the States, for that matter.) but I do not know where they got them and I am not about to ask some stranger on the street where he got his messenger bag. But I will ask people online! LOL! I ordered one before my current trip and it was nice but it only took 10L or so and it was heavy and it did not pack small when I was not using it. I left it in storage at home. Any ideas?
Also, I wear a hat on sunny days but the one that packs up best for me now is a baseball hat. Which is not all that common in Europe. Is there a squashable that will NOT make me look more like a dork than I am already do? I have tried Amazon and the floppy ones look like they would survive packing well but I am not a person that could pull off the look without looking like one of the Griswolds.
I am trying to tell myself that looking like a local is a safety measure, that touristy looking travelers are more likely to be the target of pickpockets and the like. But another part is I just do not want to look like a tourist, even if I am one. Any ideas, or links, would be very welcome.


Depends on where we are going. The style of dress varies place to place. I live in NYC. When you go certain places for a meal in the city it can be quite simple to pick out the natives from the tourists.

We often go to a popular French destination on beach holidays. Over the years my wife has accumulated a wardrobe that replicates that fashion flair of the locals. So the problem for her nowadays is that when she walks into a shop or restaurant the staff assume she is a local and speak in French to her. Unfortunately her French isn’t so good.

No better way to scream that you’re an American than by wearing a baseball cap. I picked this hat up a few years ago.

Keeps the sun off my head. It’s Italian so a little stylish. Foldable and crushable. Made from paper, cotton and polyester. Seems durable. I have even worn it while swimming so the paper content isn’t bothered by water. I have no clue how it survives since it says it’s 60% paper. Grevi is the brand.

Here’s a picture of it folded so you can see how easy it is to pack.


I visited the Grevi site but the hat I like does not look crushable/recoverable and it is a bit pricey. Most of their stores are in Florence but there has to be one in the south that stocks the hats.
I think I am going to keep searching for stores that carry them near me so I can try one on.

Obviously, it depends where you’re going. Sometimes, it’s impossible to look like a local; other times, you can pretty easily blend in, something I’ve found to be very useful, both in terms of service and of safety. How do you know if you’ve been successful? When people consistently address you in their native language is, I think, a good sign. :joy: worked for me in my younger days.

I’m definitely in the “don’t screamingly dress like you’re a tourist” camp.

ETA I’ve never looked like a tourist. There were things in my wardrobe that were always really lacking. My fallback used to be: wear black & look like you know what you’re doing . I’m LOLing because my kitchen aprons are black. They go with everything, except flour.

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I just wear what I wear wherever I am. I don’t think I ever look like a tourist - those are the people taking up the entire sidewalk while peering at a giant map, right? I might not look like a “native,” but who cares? I’m happy to look like a resident of my home city.

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People sometimes see what they expect to see. My exGF was from Italy (born in the US but both parents were from Italy and spoke it at home) and when we went out she would get addressed in Spanish, Italian, Turkish, Lebanese, you name it. The one that threw the both of us was when two young ladies from India started talking to her in what we assumed was Hindi. Olive skin, dark hair and eyes could be a neighbor from just about anywhere in the Mediterranean area.
I have been asked questions about the towns I am traveling in by locals in Greece and Italy, but not in Thailand or Indonesia. Shocking, I know. But I do not think I have had anyone ask me a question when I was wearing my baseball hat or my backpack. Which kind of makes sense.

We similarly people watch when we’re on holiday in Spain. Sat in a bar watching the world go by, it’s fun to guess the national identity of someone coming towards you along the street. And actually relatively easy to distinguish the Briton from the German and the Norwegian. Difficult to put your finger on exactly how but It’s the combination of what they’re wearing, hairstyle, etc. Don’t always get it right but overhearing speech, we get it right more often than chance would suggest.

But, to answer the question post in the title, no, I’ve never tried to look like a Spaniard, American, Cypriot, etc

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I don’t look glaringly ethnic anything (which makes sense considering my family background). So I guess that’s why I got spoken to in Italian and German. It was so long ago …

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I have 3 “English” grandparents and 1 “Welsh” grandparent. But their families had been in the US for generations before my parents were a gleam in their eyes. My siblings and I always figured there was a little native American in our family tree since the men in our family can not grow beards to save our lives and we are all dark haired. But 23 and Me said we were almost entirely English, Norwegian and Huguenot, which actually makes sense since one side left the England fairly early.
But the point I stumbled around getting to is that even with that lack of genetic diversity, I still get greeted in the local tongue in Greece and Italy from time to time. And that is kind of how I like to be viewed. Not that I want to not be American, but that I do not want to stand out in a crowd.
Unless Oprah is throwing car keys to the first person she notices…

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Totally this.

Cargo shorts, new whiteout kicks, trucker cap, puffer coat… check, check, check, check.

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Exactly. I’ve been asked for directions by a group of German hostelers on the street in NYC - I knew the answer - I’m not a New Yorker, but nearly weekly trips there had trained me in not only knowing the layout of at least Midtown but also how to manage assertive walking - that’s a whole other aspect of blending in in NYC. Or it was 30 years ago. Now … as for quick grab food … never went into a National chain once! :joy:


Ahhh… But you were not walking down the street with your phone in front of you the entire time using the map function.
You do good work, but improvement is needed in the smaller details.

I own none of those. The baseball cap I do own (for other purposes) is low profile and sized - so no strap in the back.

Pro tip for just about anywhere - do not walk down the street with your face in your phone. Situational awareness. In fact, do not walk anywhere with your face in your phone. I teach at a university. I’m so glad my car has a backup camera and warning beepers. :eyes:

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It goes without saying that I have a large paper map I play like an accordion, while my hydration flask swings from a belt loop. Duh!, bet you thought I forgot the selfie stick, too.

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What about the fanny pack? I guess those are long-gone.


Still around. :slight_smile:
pickpocket bait or they’ll slice the straps and take the whole thing.

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Yep. Same with shoulder straps. I don’t think backpacks are entirely safe either. If I’m concerned, I keep my important stuff in an internal pocket. (Yes, my non-touristy clothes do include these)

Guaranteed to raise a chuckle - A British fanny is a different part of the anatomy than an American fanny.


Yes, some of us know this …:eyes:

and others don’t :joy:

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