"" Writer's Wanderings: Oh Look! There's a Tourist!

Friday, August 19, 2016

Oh Look! There's a Tourist!

A couple of weeks ago we started thinking about what to pack for our Tokyo trip. We don't start the actual packing for any trip until, at most, two days before we leave. But this trip is a little different. We are planning a climb of Mount Fuji. That means some different items like hiking boots, walking stick, rain gear, warm clothes for the higher altitude, etc. Knowing that the temperatures are going to be very warm and humid in Tokyo we need to pack accordingly. So, Bob turns to me and asks, "Should I pack my shorts?"

My husband lives in shorts when the weather is warm--even slightly warm.

My answer, "No!"

We are going to a big city. It's Japan where customs and traditions are a bit different. We already stick out as foreigners despite our clothing choices. No need to be offensive.

So many times as visitors in a country tourists are easily spotted even if their physical appearance may not be so different. Part of it is in the clothes we choose to wear but a lot of it can actually be in the way we act. SmarterTravel has a great article on how to stick out like a tourist.

One of my pet peeves is mentioned in the article: Standing in the middle of the sidewalk with a guide book or map out to check where you are going. It forces people to walk around you and in a crowded city or town will not gain you any friends if you are blocking their path to work or school or whatever their destination. Use your smartphone. You'll blend in with most everyone. Get an app or a map on your phone. You can always do a screen shot of the map and then you don't have to worry about wearing down the battery with the GPS.

While I'm on pet peeves, the other is talking loudly. When did the volume on our voices go up so loud? Was it with the introduction of loud music and ear buds? There are not too many places in the world where a loud foreign voice will not stand out and identify you as a tourist. I remember being in a restaurant in London once where everyone was quietly enjoying breakfast when a very loud American complained about the version of an American breakfast he got. "Darlin' that ain't no American breakfast!" and then he went on loudly to explain just how it should be. Bob and I just looked at each other enjoyed our English breakfast and tried not to look like we were in any way connected to him.

We will be taking light weight long pants and light shirts to wear in the city--all with at least short sleeves. While Japan does often copy our western styles our aim is to fit in not stand out quite so much. And we will try to soften our tone when we speak out in public. Where are you going to travel this year? Have you checked out the local customs to try to blend in rather than stick out and hear someone exclaim, "Oh look! There's a tourist!"?

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