Look Like A Local
I’ve traveled a lot in my short life. I’ve been to several different countries on two different continents. I love exploring new places, but if there’s one thing that I hate, it’s looking like a tourist. You might be thinking, what classifies one’s look as “tourist-y”? My definition is a little different from some. Although I include the typical fanny-pack owning, large camera toting, “I Love [insert city here]” t-shirt wearing person, my standards are far, far higher. For me, looking like a tourist involves looking like you have no clue where you are or what you are doing. I know, I’ve probably just pointed out the majority of the U.S. population.
I became increasingly aware of my utter disdain for looking like a tourist during my time in the UK this past May. For those that don’t know me or read my blog, I spent twelve days in Scotland and London, which was a fabulous way to end my college years and begin my life as an adult, but I digress. Anyway, you’d think for an English-speaking country…er, kingdom…I’d have an easier time avoiding looking like a tourist. Yes, amidst the fashionable Englishmen and women, I was able to blend in, despite my over-preparedness for frigid weather during the county’s freak heat wave. However, London is a large city and I wanted to explore all of it. And that is where the problem lay. I needed a map.
Maps, my friends are as useful as they are obvious. And I don’t do obvious. But, it was inevitable. In order to see everything I wanted to see, I had to keep my trusty map with me constantly (especially one for the London Tube.) I felt ridiculous walking along the street with my face in a map or staring confusedly at street signs and scratching my head. The only other alternative was to memorize the routes to everything I wanted to do that day and hope for the best. (And no, cellphone GPS’s aren’t better. You still look like you’re lost.)
And then, one day while riding on the Tube, it hit me, the answer to my problems. I had been people watching (one of my favorite pastimes) and noticed that it was very common, nay expected, that people read the newspaper while riding the subway. Light bulb.
Why not create a map that looks like a newspaper on the outside? That way, when you read it, it looks like you are a well-informed citizen instead of a flustered intruder to their homeland. Imagine it, instead of looking like this guy:
or these people:
You could look like this woman:
or these people:
Instead of looking utterly confused and lost, you could look utterly confused and intrigued, like this guy:
Problem solved. You can rest assured that you will be able to navigate your way through the bustling streets of the world without a big sign on your forehead that says, “Look at me! I’m not a member of your nation and I find everything you do overwhelming and unnecessarily fascinating.”
Disclaimer: Please be warned, that using this product could, in fact, result in numerous actual tourists asking you for directions or actual citizens asking you things in foreign languages. In the case of the former, put on your best accent and tell them to take a left at the next intersection. For the latter, “just say no.”