Everybody loves to travel. See new things, experience new cultures. We call ourselves ‘adventurers’, ‘wanderers’ or ‘explorers’. Yet nobody likes tourists, let alone be one of those selfie-taking freaks who never leaves the beaten path. We want to experience a place like a local, really get to know a place and blend in. So skip the bus tour and the long list of ‘must see’ tourist attractions and dive right in. We’ll help you with these tips on how not to look like a tourist. In Berlin or any other destination. Sure, you’ll still be a tourist in disguise but at least you’re making a good, respectful effort to experience the local gems.
Leave the convertible trousers that change into shorts (never got that…), the athletic shoes, the hiking shoes and the baseball cap. They’re an instant give away that you’re a tourist. Reflect what the locals wear. Usually a simple, minimal attire works to blend in for most destinations. In Berlin, a pair of jeans, a t-shirt and a pair of Vans will do just fine.
Plan a few days longer
Instead of cramming your city trip into a 48 hour mini stay, plan a Thursday-Monday trip. It gives you more time to indulge in local adventures and you’ll be there on Sunday night, often the best ‘local’ night. For instance, real Berliners go to the Berghain club on Sundays. Your stay and transport are also cheaper on weekdays so you’ll actually be saving money over the long run 😉
Leave your guidebook. Leave the map. Ask for tips from friends that live there or that have visited before. Eat where the locals eat and get lost in a quirky neighbourhood.
Get familiar with local means of transportation
Reduce the number of taxi’s and Ubers. Instead, learn the public transport basics of your destination and cruise around town like a local. Or rent a bike for the duration of your stay. You will get to know your way around town much quicker and blend in.
Collect instead of buy
Leave the souvenirs and T-shirts on the shelves and collect small treasures instead. A card from your favorite restaurant, seashells, a written message from a new found friend. They’ll mean so much more when you get back.
Leave the DSLR at home
Chances are you are not the photographer at a wedding or shooting for a magazine and you’ll probably look back at your travel pics twice. Absorb the place, enjoy it while you’re there and take a few snap shots with your phone. They will do just fine for your blog, photo album or instagram feed.
And yes, the selfie stick too
Leave the narcissistic wands too. They’re the ultimate ‘look at me, I’m a tourist’ markers. How not to look like a tourist? This would be high on the list!
There’s no better way to discover a culture than to step into a local’s kitchen. See where it’s busy, sit down, enjoy the food and talk to your neighbor.
Pick up a novel that is set in the place you are about to visit a few days before you go. The characters, the events, the places described get you into the culture and vibe like nothing else.
Learn seven words
Forget Google translate. All you need is a translation of these seven words / phrases and you’re set.
Your favourite drink
Practice these magic seven in a perfect accent. With every answer, read the gestures and your vocabulary will grow by the day.