Though travelling to a different country is always fun, for some unknown reason, the world has made it an unspoken rule that August is the month to do it. Throughout the month, locals in the world’s biggest cities rearrange their schedules to avoid the tourist “hot spots.” Pickpockets, street vendors, and other suspicious characters, however, thrill at the opportunity to cheat yet another gullible American out of their fresh and scandalously over-taxed local currency.
As you will inevitably be a tourist in a country, it’s best to brace yourself against such things. Fanny packs, zip-locked bundles of money, and a tight arm around your bag only go so far.
The best defense is simple: Don’t dress like a tourist.
It’s a piece of cake to spot the black sheep in a herd, especially if he’s wearing Mickey Mouse ears at the Statue of Liberty. Hiding your money in a zipper inside of your fanny pack only accomplishes one thing: pinpointing exactly where your cash is. A pickpocket’s heaven.
Sneakers, a massive backpack tightly secured around your waist and chest, and a baseball cap aren’t necessary unless you’re going camping.
In the crowded Paris metro, you really don’t need to pack a Thanksgiving dinner. Pulling out sandwiches and a water bottle for your kids to eat in the three stops it’ll take to get to your destination isn’t the brightest idea, especially when there’s a guy in a hoodie precariously close to your husband’s back pocket.
It’s really quite simple: If you’re on vacation, you’re staying somewhere. If you’re staying somewhere, you always have a place to go back to. You don’t need to pack three medical kits, two pairs of shoes, and an extra hairbrush just to go see the Sphinx.
Dressing like a local, on the other hand, will get you places. Not only will other locals treat you better (unless they’re targeting tourists, of course), but you’ll automatically be overlooked by pickpockets, who will most likely see you as a more difficult target.
All it takes is one Google image search. “Parisian.” “New Yorker.” “Beiruti.” It’s not all the difficult. Trust me when I say it’s easier.
If anything, it’ll definitely save you some back pain.