The Getaway
How to Avoid Looking Like a Tourist in Europe

There’s nothing like European travel for opening up your mind to other cultures. Likewise, there’s nothing more embarrassing than sticking out like a sore thumb and getting stared at because your clothing just isn’t quite right. If you’re planning a trip to Europe and want to fit in with the locals, you might need to rethink some of your wardrobe choices. While it’s important to choose the most comfortable clothing for your trip, it’s important to remember that, in most cases, clothing is a bit more formal overseas than it is here. Toward that end, you’ll want to choose items that are comfortable yet tasteful and versatile enough so that you can wear them in a variety of settings without attracting unwanted attention — or worse, eye rolls and giggles.


01 Leave your baseball cap at the ballpark

It might be a sacrifice for you, but if you want to look like a local, you’ll need to ditch the baseball cap. Baseball caps are a uniquely American clothing item and are largely unappreciated anywhere else. The same goes for sun visors, which simply aren’t part of the European fashion scene. If you wear either one, you’ll be recognized for the Yankee tourist you really are.

Woman wearing baseball cap Justin Case / Getty Images

02 Ditch the fanny pack

Nothing screams “tourist” like a bulky, bulgy fanny pack. The trend for fanny packs began a couple of decades ago when travel experts touted them as being safer than a purse or wallet. Fortunately, travelers began to realize that there’s no such thing as an attractive fanny pack, and the convenient money belt was born. Today’s tourists know that a money belt is not only safer and less bulky — it’s also securely out of sight and won’t mark you as an unsuspecting tourist just waiting to be scammed.

Group of friends hanging out in Berlin Friedrichshain, authentic alternative Berlin style and look (tattoos, black clothes tunnel earrings). Playing ping pong, drinking beer, sitting at Spätkauf. visualspace / Getty Images

03 Shorts are for Americans

Visit any European city, and the vast majority of people wearing shorts will be tourists. Plus, if you want to visit some of Europe’s most beautiful cathedrals, you’ll discover that wearing shorts in some of these iconic venues is very much frowned upon. European clothing styles are simply more conservative than in the US, and long pants are the norm for both men and women. If you really want to look American, khaki cargo shorts seem to be the new signature look for yanks traveling overseas. But if you want to blend in with the locals, swap out the shorts for a casual pair of long pants or capris.

Couple holding hands while exploring Mayapan ruins during vacation Thomas Barwick / Getty Images

04 Fling away the flip-flops and lose the white sneakers

Flip-flops were made for the beach, and that’s where Europeans wear them. Outside of the beach, you’ll never see a flip-flop — unless it’s on the foot of an American tourist. Frankly, the Europeans are right about this because unless you’re walking on sand or in water, flip-flops offer no support or protection for your soles, arches, heels, or ankles. Likewise, while Europeans wear sneakers, they wear them in tasteful colors or black — never white. White sneakers will mark you as an American tourist before you even open your mouth.

Woman wearing Flip Flops walking down the street on a sunny summer day- closeup of the feet milicad / Getty Images

05 Hiking gear is for hiking

A lot of Europeans wonder why so many Americans drive rugged SUVs when they don’t live anywhere near the mountains — and the same goes for wearing hiking gear in the city. Unless you’re hiking or camping out in the wilderness, wear something that’s preferably more urban in style.

Rear view of young backpackers in the city. Looking forward in down town street of Knez Mihailova, Belgrade, Serbia. vgajic / Getty Images

06 Raise your neckline and lower your hemline

Many popular European tourist destinations happen to be in countries with a strong conservative religious ethic. By wearing a top that’s cut too low, a crop top, or hemlines that are cut too high, you’ll offend the locals, and their disapproving stares will make you feel uncomfortable. Plus, you might encounter restrictions when you try to enter certain places of interest — not just cathedrals but also tourist attractions and even restaurants. Leave the skimpy stuff at home, and bring along a scarf in case you're ever asked to cover yourself up before entering a particular venue.

Group of happy teenagers having fun in the street. Friendship concept. urbazon / Getty Images

07 Give your backpack a vacation

Big backpacks are very American-looking. Europeans favor packs that are much smaller and are carried in front. Plus, carrying your pack in front will keep your belongings safer from would-be pickpockets.

Young woman walking in front of Eiffel Tower rudi_suardi / Getty Images

08 Don’t bring the bling

In fashion-conscious Europe, bling just isn’t a thing to be flaunted in public. Simply put, it’s a matter of good taste not to show off your jewelry. Plus, for American travelers, it’s also a question of good sense. Bling attracts attention — including the kind of attention you don’t want. Leave the bling at home.

Closeup shot of fashionable rings on a woman's hands Delmaine Donson / Getty Images

09 Tone down the color palette

If you really want to fit in, you’ll need to leave the loud prints at home, and that includes camo patterns and Hawaiian shirts. Europeans tend to favor more neutral shades, especially black. To keep from attracting attention, avoid neon colors — and for a real European look, go for a solid neutral color topped off with a single bright accessory, such as a colorful scarf.

Elegant woman with red sunhat enjoys the view to a canal with passing by gondola in Venice, Italy SHansche / Getty Images

10 Be discreet about wearing clothing with symbols

If you want to show off your patriotism, then wear your American flag proudly. But if you don’t want to attract attention as just another American tourist, you might want to avoid clothing covered with patriotic symbols. By wearing these things, you’ll be advertising your identity as an American tourist — and this could lead to unwelcome attention from those who prey on visitors from other countries.

Stars and stripes underwear on washing line Peter Dazeley / Getty Images

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