Disclaimer - the title of this post is probably not the best

On my way to visit family in Belarus and Poland, I had a long layover in Paris, so I decided to spend the day in the city. My luggage was taken care of, and I only had a backpack with my laptop in it.

I'd like to think I dress pretty 'normally'; khaki pants, a slim fitting jacket, and some brown leather boots. I walked alone and quietly, trying to blend in. Yet, I was continually harassed by guys on the street trying to pull a scam of some sort in which they would bend over, pick up some cheap "golden" ring, offer it to me as my "lucky day", and then ask if I could give them some money for it. [I kept one, and threw it on the ground next to the next guy who tried, before using some expletives.. :-)]

Perhaps this happens to French citizens, too, but they immediately spoke to me in English. I would really like to go back to Paris, but the number of times I was approached and asked for money (the ring guys were just part of it) was an incredible turn-off.

Perhaps I'm thinking too narrowly, but I can only imagine I was doing something to draw attention to myself. Is "looking like a foreigner" just something everyone has to deal with, or is there something I can do to prevent being approached besides walking around with psychotic eyes?

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    See also travel.stackexchange.com/questions/13300/…
    – Relaxed
    Commented Nov 23, 2015 at 8:45
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    That just sounds like Paris I think. There's a lot of tourists there all the time, so it's worth trying the scam. I suspect a lot of what you would need to do to blend in is in behaviour as much as clothing.
    – CMaster
    Commented Nov 23, 2015 at 9:00
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    Here's the one about the backpack.
    – JoErNanO
    Commented Nov 23, 2015 at 9:27
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    Here's one about bright colored jackets. I was sure there was a more specific 'how to blend in' question too but I can't find it either, at least not for Europe.
    – SpaceDog
    Commented Nov 23, 2015 at 9:31
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    Way too short to be an answer, but as a local, I'd say the main difference is that a tourist will answer to the person bothering him/her. Just shake you head as a "No", eventually put your hand in front of you as to keep the distance and that's it, not even a word. Some headphones might also help to notify that you don't want to be bothered, like a real parisian.
    – Loufylouf
    Commented Nov 23, 2015 at 14:58

20 Answers 20


First there's the obvious - when in a tourist area, don't act too much like a tourist. When I lived in London you could instantly tell the locals from tourists in busy tourist areas, regardless of their looks, from the fact the locals were walking quickly and purposefully and skirting around the crowds (even when lost) while the tourists had more random, brownian motion.

That doesn't mean you can't enjoy tourist spots without looking like a tourist. For example, you can walk purposefully towards a clear space, glance at your phone or watch while standing like a local who is waiting to meet someone (see below), then admire the view at your leisure.

Here's some further tips If you are on a trip where blending in is a priority and you want to go the extra mile, for example, to avoid scams and/or ease natural conversations with locals.

There was a section in Benny Lewis's book Fluent In Three Months about this. He described spending time working on mastering the art of blending in so that local people would be more likely to talk to him in their own language in a natural way (he added that getting harassed less for tourist scams was a nice by-product).

This is what I remember of the advice, plus some of my own experience:

  • Pay a lot of attention to body language and posture. He'd make a point of noticing ways in which in each country other young males his age tended to stand slightly differently, lean slightly differently, walk slightly differently, even wait in different areas of the street to where he would automatically choose to stand. People pick up on these subtle things unconsciously. If people your age and gender idle with loose shoulders and hands in pockets, do the same; if they walk purposefully while slightly swinging their arms, do the same. Also consider things like, what people's default facial expressions are - if you're the only person walking down the street with a broad grin or a look of concentration, you'll stand out. Parisians, for example, have a very a different default expression to Americans.
  • Get the greetings right, in how you speak and respond as much as what you say. Part of this is simply responding confidently and not nervously. Also observe how people respond to greetings, questions from strangers, etc. If the norm is to respond to strangers with the local word for "Yes?" coupled with raised eyebrow that says "and why should I give you my time", and you respond with the local word for "Hi!" and a cheesy smile that says "Have a nice day!™", you instantly stand out as an "other" and scammers are likely to smell an opportunity. This is an important one for harassment - I remember when I was in Egypt, hawkers gave up much faster after I figured out how to say "No" the way grumpy/impatient ex-pats did it, instead of how baffled/nervous tourists did it.
  • Pay attention to the little details in how people dress. [this one is more for longer trips] What kind of combinations and how people wear things as well as what people wear. I think Benny Lewis used an example of Egypt, where at first glance he thought he fitted in as the locals wore what he considered similar casual wear to himself, but then he noticed certain patterns like, their trousers tended to be smart, fitted jeans in contrast with his scruffier, baggier, lighter options, their t-shirts were tight-fitting with mostly branded designs as opposed to the plainer, looser ones he wore, their shoes were smart and (somehow) immaculately clean in contrast with his grubby trainers, their belts were usually visible and smart-looking, etc etc. When he figured out how to wear casual clothes like an Egyptian, people unconsciously responded differently to him, despite the obvious racial difference (no-one thought he was actually Egyptian, but people unconsciously acted more like they would with other locals, and were more relaxed and natural with him).

With a bit of practice, it's possible to tune in to this sort of thing almost unconsciously, and remarkably quickly (like, a few hours; maybe plus one shopping trip at a local market if you really want to go the whole hog).

Of course, this all takes some effort - don't obsess about it so much you enjoy your trip less. When reducing harassment and easing conversations with locals aren't an issue or a priority on a particular trip - for example, if you're somewhere super-touristy and there's no point pretending - there's no reason not to relax and just enjoy being a tourist.

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    Yep, in a new city, a tourist looks up and strolls; while a resident looks down and gets where they are going.
    – CGCampbell
    Commented Nov 23, 2015 at 13:56
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    The problem with a lot of the behaviour based stuff is it gets rid of a lot of the fun of being a Tourist.
    – CMaster
    Commented Nov 23, 2015 at 14:06
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    Ways to fit in in Paris - smoke, roll eyes at tourists, shout "S'il vous plait!" while barging people in the back on the metro.
    – CMaster
    Commented Nov 23, 2015 at 14:07
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    @CMaster yeah, it's a balancing act - I used to do some of this stuff almost obsessively, but eventually I realised that with some destinations, there's no point trying, and it's often more fun to crack out the tasteless shorts and just embrace being a tourist. Sometimes I see people trying to play it cool somewhere absurdly touristy like Niagara Falls or Universal Studios and it's like, you're fooling no-one... Commented Nov 23, 2015 at 14:10
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    I don't know where the OP is from, but compared to Parisians, North Americans speak louder, smile way too much, dress in questionable fashion and have wildly different expectations when it comes to service
    – blackbird
    Commented Nov 23, 2015 at 14:11

Here's a trick I've found pretty useful: Wear headphones/earphones. You don't have to listen to anything through them, but just by wearing them, people are more likely to ignore you because you "can't hear them". Worked for me in Beijing's Tiananmen square.

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    Some can be very pushy and insistent and might disregard your earphones and bug you nonetheless
    – blackbird
    Commented Nov 23, 2015 at 16:25
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    At that point, you might just have to up your acting; train yourself to not react to their voice, and perhaps appear startled when you "suddenly" see them, having been "unaware" of their presence until that moment. Commented Nov 23, 2015 at 18:32
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    @DanHenderson ...and now that you've suddenly seen them, they'll be delighted because they can sell you crap? Commented Nov 23, 2015 at 21:43
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    @jpatokal Well, if we continue the "I'm a decent actor" analogy, no, because your initial look of surprise upon "noticing" them would be immediately followed by a look of annoyance at being "snuck up on", and certainly no look of "I have any interest whatsoever in taking off my headphones, or in fact, interacting with you in any way." Commented Nov 23, 2015 at 22:29
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    @DanHenderson yes, there are always people who will harass you, is that your point?
    – djechlin
    Commented Nov 23, 2015 at 23:33

I'm French, from Paris.

harassed by guys on the street trying to pull a scam of some sort in which they would bend over, pick up some cheap "golden" ring, offer it to me as my "lucky day", and then ask if I could give them some money for it [...] the amount of times I was approached and asked for money (the ring guys were just part of it) was an incredible turn off

This happens to Frenchmen as well, they do the ring thing to everybody, they don't care if you're a tourist or not, but you are more likely to be targeted if you are with a girl. Never accept the ring just say "nah it's not mine, keep it" :). I once told the lady that I knew this scam, she called some heavy dude and it got real ugly real fast.

We don't talk to people we don't know (my American teacher told me that it was something common to make small talk with strangers in NY) so if someone talks to you it's about money 90% of the time. Act like us, use headphones and if you see someone trying to speak to you in the corner of your eyes, don't look just keep walking straight.

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    When you say "and it got real fast" what exactly happened? Did they threaten you and if so, to do what? I don't quite see what they could gain by threatening someone who'll never fall for the scam ("Un-know that this is a scam! Now!" ?) Commented Nov 24, 2015 at 17:38
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    He was talking very loud, telling me that "it was my ring and to pay for it now" (yeah I don't see why I would have to pay for my ring either), he pushed me several times while still shooting nonsense. this kind of scam is mostly done on touristic places so once we got attention from a police patrol he went away. He was mostly trying to intimidate me in order for me to give him money. Now I just say "it's not my ring, you can keep it" with a smile and walk away.
    – Heetola
    Commented Nov 25, 2015 at 10:29
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    Sounds like a job for the police...
    – Dronz
    Commented Nov 25, 2015 at 16:35

It is the amount of time it takes you to reach from point A to B, Identifying you as a tourist is a heuristic algorithm:

  • you take small steps.
  • stopping every 10 minutes and raise your head up looking for elements above direct-eye level. - your head movement is "erratic".
  • you are "eyeing" gift-shops, restaurants, statues etc..

For locals, "sights" are ...well... local, meaning they are invisible while they are rushing to their job/ picking up the kids from school etc..

Although it might be beneficial to imitate a local to avoid tourist-hunters, you are missing a lot of the fun of visiting a new place for the first time,

in short, Tourists have all the fun! :)

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    Every 10 minutes? That's very infrequent for a tourist.
    – gerrit
    Commented Nov 24, 2015 at 10:19
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    If you've ever tour in Europe there is a statue or a story to tell almost every few meters (just ask every tour guide!), also.. if you are looking for some toilet you will probably stop and look even more frequently than that ;) (while in most cases a local will probably won't be need to..)
    – user37468
    Commented Nov 27, 2015 at 12:38
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    @gerrit it also means that someone's been stalking you for at least 20 minutes
    – galois
    Commented Jul 4, 2016 at 8:48

About 10 years ago I was pickpocketed in Paris. I'm reasonably sure that the fact that it was in December and about 40 degrees(F) and I was wearing shorts and a short-sleeve shirt was at least a contributing factor to my being chosen as a target. My wallet was in my right front pants pocket, but that didn't help. Thankfully my wallet was recovered within a minute, so I didn't have to get my credit cards reissued, but I had about $300 in cash stolen. It was a more traumatic experience than I would have expected it to be. A kind stranger, Karine, a woman who worked at the Polo/Ralph Lauren corporate offices in Paris, helped me greatly by accompanying my girlfriend and me to the police station to file the police report. I know enough French to get by, but not enough to file written statements with the Paris police.

Since that happened, I've resolved to become a lower profile target, both while traveling and at home as well. Some of the things I've done when I'm in Paris include:

  • Wearing mostly solid color, darker colored clothes.

  • Looking ahead to see when groups of people are trying to interact with passers-by, so that I can steer clear of them where possible.

  • Talking with some locals (at the hotel, restaurant, etc.) and asking them what the current cons are. For instance, I was there last December and I was told by a few people that the latest con involved people trying to get you to sign a petition. Another con I was told about involved people asking you if you speak English. Both of these are apparently just tricks to get you to talk to them before they attempt some other con.

  • Carrying my id and passport and most credit cards in an inner wallet. The wallet in my pants pocket contains one credit card, and perhaps $60 or $80 euros. I'd hate to have that stolen, but I'd much rather lose that instead of having everything taken.

  • I operate with the assumption that anyone who speaks to me in English as I walk past them is trying to con me in some way. I simply won't engage with them unless I can tell by their accent that they are American or British.

  • I don't stand in the middle of a busy sidewalk to make a cell call. I will get against a building, preferably in a corner to make it more difficult for someone to snatch my phone while I'm using it.

  • When I travel there I take my SIMM chip from my current phone and put it into a phone that I have that's about 5 years old. Because it's so old, it would be less likely to be taken and if it were stolen, I wouldn't be terribly heartbroken.

  • I try to minimize the attention that I draw to myself. As an example, my girlfriend and I, don't stop on the sidewalk to discuss where we will have lunch. Instead, we walk into the entrance of a building and discuss it there.

There's probably lots more that you could do, but that's good enough to get you started.

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    You turn a walk on the street into a battlefield. And you still can't prevent any danger by doing this. Commented Nov 25, 2015 at 10:41
  • You can also carry a wallet filled with a lot of counterfeit money to get the pickpockets to steal that wallet. Commented Nov 27, 2015 at 5:07
  • I think the amount of prep work to do this is minimal considering the potential reward. Of course it can't "prevent" the dangers, but it will do a great job of shifting the odds in my favor.
    – Itsme2003
    Commented Dec 4, 2015 at 15:44

I once did a social experiment in India where I dressed like a beggar (barefeet, dirt in the face, torn rags for clothes, old hat) and I was completely ignored. This is of course an extreme measure but the gist is that you look "invisible" just like the sights are invisible to locals, as another commenter said. I always pack a small urban backpack inside my tourist pack, so I don't need to drag around my bright hiking rucksack and I'm not frowned upon when I go to a coffee shop to write that travel blog.

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    Maybe you didn't look local, maybe you just didn't look worth robbing...
    – Jon Story
    Commented Nov 27, 2015 at 11:33
  • I have lived in India all my life. I have never seen a beggar wear a hat. Indians rarely wear a hat.
    – Jay
    Commented Dec 1, 2015 at 8:26

Compare these two images of casual-dressed men.

Subject A Subject B

The first guy shops at Kohl's in Columbus while the second guy shops at Galeries Lafayette in Nantes.

Of the two, each walking nonchalantly down a street in Paris, which one would look like a tourist to other Parisians?

Therefore, if you want to blend into the background scene, go into one of the suburbs, find a friperie, buy some definitely used-looking clothes, and ride the RER back into Paris.

Rather than looking amazed or lost, try to look bored or even annoyed.

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    I bet the guy in photo 2 will still look French when dressed in the clothes of photo 1, with some minor extra details, like a scarf. While the guy in photo one will not wear his scarf in a 'French' way when dressed in the clothing of photo 2.
    – Willeke
    Commented Nov 25, 2015 at 17:38
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    @Willeke With that facial expression, the guy in picture #2 would look French even when wearing Stars & Stripes sweatpants with a bald eagle on his shoulder Commented Nov 26, 2015 at 10:22
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    Both look like tourists to me. (I'm a Parisian.) But that's probably because they're posing for the photo so they'd look out of place anywhere. Neither of them looks more French than the other to me. Commented Nov 26, 2015 at 23:12
  • Exactly! The reason the left one looks more touristy is that he stands out more. If anything, the right one blends into the background more, but only because the photo has a background. Nothing to do with looking French or American.
    – Mr Lister
    Commented Nov 28, 2015 at 16:53

Since I travel a lot to different countries in Europe, Americas, Africa and Asia, very often I was a target of various scam artists. My way to avoid it is to dress like a man down on his economical luck. My cloths are clean but really basic and wear out. I have plastic sandals or other cheep looking shoes which had never seen a polish. My backpack or bag had seen better days long time ego. I look like someone who would ask you for 5 dollars... It works perfectly. Never anyone, even in Africa, harass me or try to take advantage. On the contrary, people avoid me being afraid of me asking them for something. Also, I never have any original document with me, always plastic protected copies. Just in case I loose one. In any public place, restaurant or similar, I look for seat which puts my back to the wall and I can see everyone. Never I sit with my back to the main traffic. I make sure to have enough of small change to avoid showing any bills when I need to pay for anything. Also, while you look as a poor man, your eyes have to be open/observing. The best way to deal with any problem is to avoid it before it develops into a problem.

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    TBH your outfit sounds like a typical backpacker in Europe :-) if I was a scammer in Paris I'd definitely target someone dressed like that in a tourist spot Commented Nov 24, 2015 at 17:42
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    I travel to enjoy the new places I go to. It probably works for some, but even if it's bullet proof, I wouldn't compromise my chances of being easy to approach and meet good and friendly locals specially in restaurants.
    – AKS
    Commented Nov 24, 2015 at 20:39

I used to travel down to Tijuana, Mexico with my friend while I was stationed in San Diego. I am military, my friend is a super geeky looking guy. TJ is very well known for pushy locals on tourists, from cabs to selling candy. Everyone was asking to buy things or get cab rides. We walked together the entire time. The difference? I had on my pissed off military look... looked straight ahead, never made eye contact.. This also works in front of grocery stores where people try to get you to donate money or buy crap.

The more friendly you look, the more likely people will want to talk to you.

  • I completely agree with this. Personally, I am so used to shutting down San Francisco panhandlers all the time. I actually don't remember a single time being by accosted by French people when I visit Paris (not that this doesn't happen, I'm sure that it must have). Commented Nov 29, 2015 at 9:39

I pass in front of the Château de Versailles daily. I am never stopped by the street vendors because:

  • I bike. Possibly with my children. This is not an easy one when you are a tourist (except maybe for the bike, though it is not worth the hassle on short trips (otherwise you have Velib'))
  • I do not look around and have headphones on. This one is not simple as a tourist either (the not looking past at least).
  • I hold something which is obviously for home. A baguette for instance.

All in all it is not easy to look like a local. The street vendors are likely to tag you as a prey but you should just ignore them (the headphones help).

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    +1 because I love the idea that the best way to not look like a local in Paris is to walk around everywhere carrying a baguette. I'd love to try that :-) Commented Nov 24, 2015 at 17:40
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    Well, when I walk in front of the castle, holding two baguettes, looking bored and not smiling I do not expect anyone to even bother trying to sell me an Eiffel tower, a selfie stick or whatever is fashionable today :) (just kidding, this is a stereotype. We smile all the time, but we smile in French so this is not immediately obvious)
    – WoJ
    Commented Nov 24, 2015 at 18:09
  • Similarly, although it probably doesn't hold up as well anymore, my father once gave me the tip of dressing normally and carrying around a local newspaper under your arm. Obviously papers are no longer as common, so now it might actually be counter-productive. but it used to work quite well, since a tourist is unlikely to be interested in a local paper.
    – Cronax
    Commented Nov 25, 2015 at 14:48

There are several great answers here, but since this is still a hot thread shown in the SE sidebar, I thought to put my thoughts too.

I was pick-pocketed in Paris, and I volunteered to get scammed by the test-your-sight by the shuffling cup trick.

Still, I would say I'm pretty good at avoiding scams. There is nothing to get upset if you get scammed I must say. I have read somewhere that they are sort of a price you pay when you travel. Looking back at them, they are more vivid experiences now.

  • Wear headphones. They work like a charm. This will prevent even some friendly locals from approaching you. But when you feel you are in a bad neighborhood, wear them.

  • If you travel by a map, try to use a mobile phone instead of paper. You have the GPS pointer to check where you are exactly, and you will rarely check any sign boards to figure out where you are.

  • Put your wallet to your front pockets. I do this everytime I go to a movie, opera, etc and also in public transport. But please please have your transport cards easy to access. Putting your wallet in front pocket makes it hard to pull off even by yourself.

  • Walk faster. This gives subtle hint that you know where you want to go. Honestly, I don't think you can ever look like a local. I'm a Sri Lankan citizen, and India is just a one hour flight. I could even speak a little Hindi, and I'm pretty sure 90% of the people can just figure out I'm not a local just by looking at me. The important thing is that you should show that even if you are not from there, you still know where to go and how things work there.

  • Most importantly, signal the scammers that you are not interested beforehand. This is for the Sacre Coeur String of Friendship scam in particular. Keep your heads up, and slightly nod your head that you are not interested. Don't forget to keep walking. Mostly in Asia, some local would approach every one who comes out of the train station to give them a great hotel deals. Almost 100% of the time, they end up charging you more, so it's never a bad idea to let them go. Nod slightly, and they will just back away, knowing you are not worth the effort.

  • There is a suggestion about uncommon bags. Works beautifully.

  • Don't try to get information from ticket sales counters, etc. There are very good posters/screens out there to get when the trains leave, which platform, etc. I have witnessed an incident that a young lady asked a question from the sales counter, and the sales person took some time to help her. While this was acceptable, a scammer a few meters away noticed, and was pretending to help her, which she ended up losing her wallet to (that was in Italy, but I'm sure it applies everywhere).

  • Try to really enjoy the locals too. You will get to enjoy what the country really has to offer you, while it doubles as you looking like an expat who knows the country much better than a common tourist.

Finally, good luck and enjoy your travels. Don't get upset about scams. Majority of people in the world are so nice.


Very good to try to blend in with the locals when you go around the parts of the city where/when the locals are around in big numbers.
If you walk near the tourist destinations, even as a local on the way to your work at a time most people around are tourist, you will be seen as a proper target.

The pyramide entry into the Louvre with tourists waiting to enter When you are between tourists you will be seen as tourist!
Photo by Willeke, may be used under CC rules.

Whatever brand of clothing and accessories you use, as a tourist you are likely to wear/carry them different. No use to spend money on new clothing if as soon as you put them on all locals know you are not from there because you do close that top button (or fail to do so) or an other small detail like that. Better wear something you already own that does not stand out as new or expensive.

You are a tourist, you do touristy things and you will be seen as a tourist, nothing wrong with that.
You might want to avoid places that attract many tourists, as those places also have a lot of people harrassing tourists. But that is as far as you should go.

Better learn the best or most effective way to say "No" to those people. Keep your valuables out of reach, do not inspect what is for sale (or accept when you do that they will aproach you to sell to you) an enjoy being a tourist.

I am not sure what I do to be seen as 'local' in almost all places I travel, not only where my looks fit in (I am a blond Dutch woman) but also where I should stand out because of my looks, like Spain. I usually get asked for the way once a day wherever I travel, but when in Paris or London I am still approached by the sellers of the touristy items.

Wearing well used (but not dirty nor damaged) clothing in which you feel comfortable and self assured, worn in backpack or shoulder bag and shoes to walk in (rather than high heels or running shoes) might well help, but even when walking around with my camera at the ready or a map in my hand I am approached as a resident rather than a tourist in many different parts of the world.

By the way, do you rather want to tell someone to get going when you look at a map, or do you want to have your smart phone stolen?
I go for the first, walk around with a paper map when possible and accept being seen as a tourist.
And when I am lost, I look lost, with a map in my hand and most of the time someone really local will ask me whether I need help, which I mostly accept with as much grace as I am able to show.
When you stand in a corner with your phone, people assume you can help yourself and you will miss being told about the great things just around the corner.


I'm from the US, 56 years old, caucasian, and I've been living in Uganda for the last seven years.

When I first got to Uganda, everywhere I would go, maybe five or six times a day, people would try to stop me to ask for money. No matter how I tried to dress or blend in, the money-asking was constant.

After a year or so, it just stopped. I didn't do anything conscious, but I believe after so long there, I stopped looking as scared or as nervous as I did originally.

So my answer is: there may not be anything you can consciously do to blend in. Just be aware that eventually, you will.


What I advise tourists to my home town of New York City is, don't look like a curious person having a good time.

You don't have to pass yourself off as a local as much as you need to be an "anti-tourist." The mentality that you might adopt is that of a sentry near enemy territory, patrolling the ground for trouble. If a stranger approaches you, a sentry call is "qui vive." Or you might shout "police," which sounds the same in French as in English.


If you were not talking on the phone/listening to music a moment ago, answer in sign language, pretending to be deaf. You probably don't know SL, but neither do they. So you just smile awkwardly and make random hand gestures, ocasionally pointing to your ears untill the harasser has anough and leaves. This works also in your home country, when you are clearly local.


When I walk around in my city (currently Leicester or London) I check myself quite often noticing people from different places. It is quite intuitive for me to tell where someone is from; whether they are here on business, tourism or are local.

With the advent of the person who has income just to visit a place just to see it and not going there for survival reasons, this of course creates a tourist economy which contains all kinds of people who are benefiting from this industry.

Trying to blend in in order to not get harassed is fair enough for you, but its not something that you can really blame on the people (unless of course it is criminal harassment which is a different matter).

A lot of answers are about avoidance but to be honest, when Ive lived abroad for any length of time before in the past and started to blend in myself, I actually prefer the tourists who are proud of the fact they are tourists- Russians, Ukrainians especially tend to be like this, and they seem to expect and understand that their being there to visit as a tourist means that they will have this kind of dealings with people and are prepared for it.

So you could be more accepting of the social relationship you find yourself in, engage with these people and get the experience of the social interaction and over time you will start to understand more the nature of the situation as opposed to just trying to avoid.

  • While this might generally be a good idea, I am not sure how this addresses the specific problem the OP has. The kind of scams that he is talking about usually involve getting grabbed by the hand and then a string (or in this case a ring) bound to it, before being quite insistently asked to pay money for it. This can be quite scary (other than annoying) and I wonder how exactly 'engage with these people and get the experience of the social interaction' in this case would look like. What exactly are you suggesting: That he give each of them the money they ask for?
    – drat
    Commented Nov 27, 2015 at 9:16
  • I been on a lot of long cycle tours. The outcome of personal interactions with people on the road tends to boil down to the energy and level of fear you bring into a situation, which can only be overcome with experience on a case by case basis. Commented Nov 27, 2015 at 10:27

Here's some points describing what tourists look like:

  • Wear huge backpacks.
  • Stand on corners with maps on paper or on their phones.
  • Stand on the street with a frown and their head on a swivel.
  • Carry bags with them larger and more bulky that bags residents carry.
  • "overly cautious" carry a "front bag" containing valuables.
  • Wear "hiking clothing" in a city environment.
  • Travel in pairs.
  • Have their cameras out, especially around "landmarks."
  • Never know where local food is, so always eat at McDonalds or at the obvious cafe on the corner.
  • Loiter around transport terminals.
  • Hesitate over local currency.
  • Get into arguments with people behind glass screens ( ticket staff, money change staff ).
  • Are not texting the minute the plane lands ( since they don't have a local sim card ).
  • Are not talking on their phone ( since they don't have a local sim card ).

So if you do none of these things, you'll look much less like a tourist.

If you want to blend in, practise this:

  • When you leave your hotel, leave only with your wallet, internet device and hotel key ( as well as clothes, obviously ). If your key doesn't have the hotel address, also take a hotel business card so you can return if lost.

  • Study the area using Google Streetmaps beforehand so you know where you're going. Know where the restaurants are, where people go to eat.

  • When you are in a transport hub and everyone is walking in the one direction toward somewhere, walk with them. They will probably take you to the exit or main area.
  • If you don't know where you're going, just keep walking, or walk into a fancy hotel and ask them, since fancy hotel are always helpful, and you look less like a target than if you are standing around on the street with your map or asking strangers.

Master class

Learn some survival language

  • Pronouns: I, you, he and she
  • Verbs: go, is, have
  • Prepositions: where, here, there
  • Necessities: ATM, food, bar, hotel
  • Constructions:
    • where is ... ?
    • how much ... ?
  • the names of places in the local dialect. E.g. in Hong Kong, Kowloon is actually said more like "Gow long". If you say Kowloon, you are a tourist. If you say "gowlong" you are making an effort, or maybe even a resident.

Go to areas where there are already people like you. If you could look like an "expat" go to expat areas ( google search: Where do expats go after work in XXXXX ? ). If you are Chinese, go to China town. Hanging out in somewhere familiar will help you find your "sea legs" and build your confidence. You might even make some connections.

The biggest rule of all is, observe what local people are doing, and just copy them.

The second biggest rule of all is, don't be negatively self conscious. The more negatively self conscious you are, the more other people notice you, too. The less self conscious you are, the more you speak and learn a foreign language. Pay attention to what others are doing, and you'll be safer, and less conspicuous, than if you are only concerned about what you are doing.

  • Very nice set of general rules. But do they work for you? Are you seen as a local in the touristy areas of Paris? It is very nice to say 'copy the locals' but that will not help you much if you can not see what makes the locals look different from you.
    – Willeke
    Commented Jul 3, 2016 at 21:19
  • One of your rules is easy to say, but it takes a lot of practice (for example) if you're American, to count change without squinting at it. I've bought food, bus tickets, and other things in Spain, France, Netherlands, Italy, etc. for at least 21 weeks, and I still have to think about what color is €5 and can't identify a €0.20 by size unless there's a 10 and 50 nearby to compare.
    – WGroleau
    Commented Jul 4, 2016 at 8:51

What works for me is to always wear a jacket and tie, carry a black portfolio, and stare at the ground (there are holes in the sidewalk you could fall into). But then, I am not a tourist...I do almost always answer something when asked, since they might be asking directions or something...(Of course I hardly know where anything is) but to impertinent questions, a good all around answer is "si no te sabes, no te metas..." Oh and don't wear a wristwatch. It looks really stupid to have something on your wrist if you're not a santero or something.


The simple and straight answer is to behave like a Parisian in Paris :)

When those people are approaching, the easiest way to get rid of them is to just not pay attention to them. They will check your attire and of course, if you have a bag in a tourist area, you are probably a tourist. So here are few tips to avoid entering into an endless discussion :

  • Watch out few meters around you. You will easily spot those guys and so you can avoid walking in their directions.
  • Use some headphones. It will be more difficult for them to engage the discussion if you have some headphones.
  • In the way you walk, clearly show that you aren't here to take your time and watch the monuments. Rather walk at a good speed in the same direction.
  • Don't wear typical tourist articles like a camera or a backpacking bag.
  • Adapt yourself to the locals. You should look like a Parisian. If you have a business style, then you won't get disturbed at all. You can try the student style as well.
  • Avoid tourist areas. This is a pretty obvious and easy one... You can enjoy Paris and avoid those kind of problems without going through all tourist areas. And if you really want to go through all tourist areas, avoid the places were all the people are. Take the backdoor. For the Eiffel Tower for instance, it would mean coming through the Champs de Mars rather than the Trocadero.
  • Plan in advance. If you look like being lost or searching your way, you will get directly spotted.
  • And if someone comes and talk to you, never ever enter into the discussion. Just continue as if you were a deaf person.

Good luck and enjoy Paris!

  • But that's the question: I don't know HOW to look like a Parisian.
    – CGCampbell
    Commented Jan 11, 2016 at 16:03
  • It depends on how old you are. If you are above 30, then a jacket with or without a tie will definitely allow you to not look like the regular tourist. If you are below 30, then a leather jacket (perfecto), a scarf with a beret could help... There is no real rule indeed. The Parisian style is a mix between discrete and chic styles. Smart but not too much. Look at French fashion blogs if you want to get an idea, those are good sources of inspiration. I could provide some links but don't want to show up as a spammer here...
    – Olielo
    Commented Jan 11, 2016 at 19:41

You attract what you think about.

Don't think about it, and it won't happen.

Don't be fake and treat people with respect.

Getting harassed by vendors is a fact of life in touristy areas, try Turkish Bazaars, or walk in any street in Patong beach. Same same :)

Be confident, and take a stroll in the streets of Fes.

Take off that fake smile and act "normal"...

Act like you know what you are doing.

Enjoy life. People are the same. We all have families and loved ones, etc...

Some of us "people" make a living using "creative" ways, but they are still nice people if you dig deep.

  • 1
    Why so preachy ?
    – blackbird
    Commented Nov 25, 2015 at 19:01
  • Easier writing style... Didn't intend it to sound preachy. Commented Nov 25, 2015 at 19:31

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