When you visit a foreign country, you’re a guest. It’s polite to learn at least a bit about the local customs and a few basic phrases in their language before you pack your bags and jet off in a magical flying bus in search of sights to see. Genuine effort counts for a lot! However, no matter how perceptive and careful they might be, tourists are bound to accidentally reveal who they are sooner or later. It comes with the territory. Some of the things that we do are so ingrained, we hardly notice our behavior which might be considered rude elsewhere. And that’s how the locals know that we’re from out of the country.
We've collected some of the biggest tourist faux pas from a viral Quora thread asking what behavior immediately identifies a non-local, so scroll down and upvote the worst slip-ups that caught your eye. Have you ever done something similar when you were on vacation abroad? What sets tourists apart in your home country? Share your thoughts with all the other Pandas in the comments!
Bored Panda was interested to learn more about tourist etiquette, so we reached out to Professor Christine Vogt, the Director of the Center for Sustainable Tourism at Arizona State University. Professor Vogt explained that learning about local customs and language is a must when planning your trip and doing background research before your visit abroad. "More than likely that is what draws a person to visit a certain place. The more local knowledge a traveler has, the more a traveler can feel like a local and fit in," she said.
Read on for the full interview where Professor Vogt discusses the importance of learning local customs, whether the pandemic has made countries more open to tourists, and the best way to protect historic sites from tourists that like taking one or two 'souvenirs' back home with them.
#1London, UK: Leaving a large tip. "Tipping in restaurants is generally expected, but much more modest than in the US, as wait staff earn a reasonable wage. In the US, service staff are expected to be polite to customers. In the UK, customers are expected to be polite to service staff."#2Edinburgh, Scotland: Pronouncing the "G" at the end of Edinburgh.
"The '-burgh' at the end of a place name is pronounced '-burra,' as in 'Edinburra,' not 'Edinberg'."#3Barcelona, Spain: Referring to Barcelona as "Barca." "We cringe every time we hear that."
According to Professor Vogt from ASU, some of the local customs can include how to dress, eat, the etiquette of using a cellphone, among many other things.
"Local customs can include how a traveler dresses, eats, uses a cell phone, etc. When a traveler is out in a community such as walking in a downtown area or eating in a restaurant, these local customs can come into play. For example, in Buddhist countries, a woman who has not covered her shoulders or legs may not be allowed into temples or even a restaurant. Learn as many local customs as you can and a few key words to enhance your experience," Professor Vogt explained to Bored Panda that adhering to customs can enhance not only the experience of your trip but also help show the proper respect for traditions.
In other words, putting in the effort is a win-win. For you. For the locals, too.
#4Seattle, Washington: Looking tan.
"When someone walks into the coffee shop on the corner with a perfect tan, shorts, a t-shirt, and actually looks like they've seen light before, we all know they aren't from around here."#5Moscow, Russia: Whistling indoors.
"This casual gesture immediately identifies you as a non-local. This is because the Russians believe that by whistling you're blowing your wealth away."#6Singapore: Sticking or throwing out chewing gum in a public space.
"It is illegal for chewing gum to be sold in Singapore and Singaporeans are notoriously afraid of violating the rules."
We were also curious to find out whether the Covid-19 pandemic had made countries warier of tourists or quite the opposite—more welcoming. According to Professor Vogt, the countries and places in the United States that have been hit hardest by the novel coronavirus or have public health as their priority "may have pulled all marketing to attract tourists" and have also made it harder to visit by adding restrictions. Among these are visa restrictions, mandatory testing for Covid, and self-funded quarantines.
However, this isn't the case everywhere. Some areas are desperate to recoup losses and improve financial streams they'd usually get from tourism. "Unfortunately, many places in the US continue to want a rebounding tourism industry and promote themselves as open for tourism. It is critical that these open destinations are also practicing the appropriate health and safety protocols," Professor Vogt said.
#7San Francisco, California: Wearing a suit as business attire.
"Wearing a suit as business attire, even to job interviews, communicates that either 1. You are not from here or 2. You are selling something. Most tech employees, including many execs, wear anything ranging from business casual (khakis and a button-down shirt) to sandals and jeans, or even shorts, for day-to-day office activity."#8I’m from Hong Kong!!! Well, I lived here for many years, so I’m quite familiar with the local culture.
1. Tourists are usually the ones that marvels on how well you speak English. HK is a bilingual city, we used to be colonised by the British. Just because we are Asian does not mean we can’t speak good English.
2. Going on massive shopping sprees in the shopping malls. This mostly apply to tourists from mainland China, but also from some gwai lo (aka foreigners) as well. They would go into some Chanel store and come out with 15 bags of cosmetics etc. HK stuff are somewhat cheap compared to other countries, so it’s only natural that tourists will bulk buy.
3. Taking selfies and pictures in those run-down restaurants in crowded, stinky alleys. Those restaurants are usually cheap and the quality of their food isn’t the best, but they are what most locals eat when they don’t feel like having anything fancy for lunch. Tourists are the kind that take selfies of themselves in the crowded restaurant and snapping pictures of their food (which is just fried toast with honey, or maybe instant noodles with an egg on top). We just eat there, because we don’t find the food as special.
4. Trying to speak Mandarin. A lot of locals do know Mandarin, but it’s not our main language. Our main language is Cantonese, and some of the locals do get offended if tourists come and confuse our language with another.
5. Assuming that Mandarin and Cantonese are the same. Please, please don’t say that. We use the same characters, but the way we use them are very different. Mandarin is a really recent and simplified version of Cantonese, while Cantonese is arguably one of the most ancient languages in the world. And please don’t just say “nah, they are the same to me”, because they are so different to us.
Image credits: Kat Ho
1. Most tourists go to pubs to get the full Irish experience (for good reasons). Now the thing about Irish pubs, besides the good beer, is that pubs are very good places for socialising. It happens quite often that someone overhears your discussion and might join in (politely) and then you have a pint together (or more).
Let me tell you about the word ‘craic’. It is pronounced /kræk/ (same as crack cocaine) and it means fun, good times, news and a couple of other things.
Now one of the questions you’ll hear most often in pubs is one friend asking the other: “How was the craic last night?” meaning: Did you have fun last night? To which the answer is usually: “Craic was mighty” or some variant of this.
Imagine the tourists’ faces and what goes through their head when they hear 2 Irish lads talking about how good the cocaine was.
Every single time I hear this exchange of words I look at other people’s faces and immediately spot the tourists. Works like a charm!
2. Also related to pubs, you can easily spot a tourist if he spills beer on the floor. No matter how drunk, no matter how crowded the pub is, a local will always be able to handle at least 3 pints at a time without spilling. He might fall down the stairs, but the beer won’t go to waste. Some exceptions: brits & germans.
3. Lastly, the weather.
Tourists are always surprised when it starts raining and they’re not properly dressed even though they took a look at the forecast in the morning and dressed accordingly (big mistake) AND IT WAS FECKIN’ SUNNY 5 MINUTES AGO! Irish will talk and complain about weather, but rarely act surprised. It gets worse in February, March when you can have 4 seasons in the same day.
Image credits: Constantin Ursu
Bored Panda also wanted to hear Professor Vogt's take on how to protect historic sites and artifacts from tourists with itchy hands. She said that some of the best ways to ensure that artifacts stay where they should be is to post the penalties for stealing, setting up signs discouraging thievery, and using cameras to catch those who break the rules.
She also suggested setting up a display of items that have been returned and pointed out that the Petrified Forest National Park in Eastern Arizona has just such a display. That's the kind of out-of-the-box thinking that we can get behind. And it makes us hopeful that even the rudest tourists can eventually have a change of heart and try to make amends.
#10Portland, Oregon: Using an umbrella when it's raining outside.
"You sort of stop caring about the mist, and just wear wool that stays dry."
"Locals just wear a light rain jacket, and are on their way. No local will cancel plans because it's raining outside or wait for the rain to let up."#11Chicago, Illinois: Visiting Navy Pier during the summer.
"The Navy Pier is the most visited place in Chicago every summer. But everyone there is a tourist. If a local wants to go to Navy Pier, they go in the fall."
"It's crowded, overpriced, and there is very little to actually do there; most Chicagoans only go with friends from out of town."#12Alberta, Canada: Feeding the wildlife.
"Don't feed our wildlife or treat them like they are pets. Respect them, and their space. Personally, I think we should just feed the tourists that do this to the problem bears. Kind of a win-win."
Words of wisdom to go by are to leave the place you visit better than when you came. It’s a great tip for life in general, too!
That can mean anything from picking up a piece of litter if you see any lying around to not stealing artifacts from historical sites to keep as souvenirs. Not stealing things sounds obvious, but far too many tourists do this and some discover that their lives suddenly become… ‘cursed,’ like the BBC reports.
If you’re ever confused about what (not) to do and you’ve forgotten to brush up on local customs, remember to err on the side of politeness. Be open to learning new things. Apologize if you’ve offended someone. Be a decent human being, not a belligerent brat, and you’ll find that the entire world’s your back yard.
#13New York, New York: Going to Times Square.
"Locals would not be caught dead hanging out here."#14Tehran, Iran: Not trying to haggle supermarket prices.
"Bargaining is so extreme in Iran that supermarkets have actually raised their prices by a lot to keep their old profit margins."#15Melbourne, Australia: Calling these "flip-flops."
"Okay foreigners, it's time to get this straight: THESE ARE TWO THONGS! And calm down England, we are not walking around commenting on revealing underwear all the time."
But above all else, don’t expect foreign countries to be exactly like your home town. We might travel to relax, expand our minds, or discover ourselves, but it’s not so that we can experience the exact same everyday life we do at home. If something’s different, accept it. Admire it. Then, adapt.
Soon enough, you’ll be just like the locals—poking fun at loud tourists with flip-flops, fanny-packs, and selfie-sticks who complain that they’re outside of their comfort zones.
I live in a small town in Canada up in the mountains, I'm not going to say where, for privacy reasons although I doubt anyone will try to stalk me down but anyway.
We don't get many tourists here since it's not a very well known place, but lots of people from nearby cities and towns come in and visit and it's very clear who are tourist.
I live on a lake, where tons of visitors come per day to swim in. You can tell someone is a tourist when they are walking around in the shallows carelessly.
Locals would use the dock instead of entering the water by foot. Why? Leeches.
Leeches are disgusting things that live in the mud in the shallow waters. Some are small, some are big, they look like slugs. I'm not going to insert a picture of one because they honestly are so disgusting.
Not only do they look disgusting but they suck your blood, They can attach themselves to any part of your body and they are quite hard to remove. After the gross little thing sucks your blood you will then have a bleeding cut. Leeches suck your bad blood, and they are sometimes used for medical causes but ew.
Most Tourists have no idea leeches exist until one attaches to one of their body parts.
Image credits: Anna Gomez
#17Cairo, Egypt: Wearing camouflage clothing.
"I don't know what it is but for some reason, a lot of tourists walk around like they're about to go on some super dangerous, ultra important journey through a jungle. They wear big hiking boots, thermal backpacks, etc. They also wear very camouflagey stuff."#18Paris, France: Calling the newer of Paris’s two main airports “Charles de Gaulle."
"When I lived in Paris, nobody called the newer of Paris’ two main airports 'Charles de Gaulle.' What did they call it? Well, just the town CDG has been built on: 'Roissy.'"#19I live in Toronto, ON. It’s not too different from any typical North American city but there are some particulars:
1. Pronouncing it “To-ron-toe” instead of “Tuh-ronno”: Locals always drop the second T. It’s such a part of our identity that Canadians from other parts of the country, even if they’ve lived here for years, refuse to drop the second T. It’s stems from the love-hate relationship the rest of Canada has with this city.
2. Calling the Subway lines by number or colour: They used to be unnumbered, and we only have a measly four lines, so we would refer to Line 1 as “the Yonge line”, Line 2 as “the Bloor-Danforth line”, Line 3 as “the Scarborough line” or “Scarborough LRT”, and Line 4 as “the Sheppard Line”.
3. Standing on the left side of the escalator: However, there have been some issues about how the rule of “stand on the right, walk on the left” might be troublesome for accessibility, so this rule might change in the future.
4. Biking on the sidewalk: I know this city has a severe lack of bike lanes but that doesn’t mean you risk the lives of innocent pedestrians.
5. Assuming there is only one Chinatown: There are actually two official ones downtown. Prominent Chinese communities also exist in North York, Scarborough, and the Greater Toronto Area. I would argue there is better Chinese food uptown than downtown.
6. Asking how to get to Niagara Falls while in the middle of the downtown core: Niagara Falls is a different city about an hour and a half outside of Toronto. I’m afraid you must be very lost if you want to get there.
7. You don’t immediately shudder when someone mentions the Dufferin bus: Beware the route 29 Dufferin bus. Beware.#20
Mexico City: we know you’re a tourist when you start trying to respect road signs and stoplights. If there’s one thing I severely loathe about this city- it’s not the pollution, nor the crowded feeling you get once you get here, nor the un-ending yearn from locals to believe that any foreigner is automatically better qualified for the job- it’s the utter disrespect and indifference for your own life or those of others. Big 6-lane avenue? Let us ignore the bridge and cross underneath it while we zigzag between cars and their scared drivers. Stoplight just turned green? Better cross with my 3 kids behind me while cars honk at me. You want to cross the street now? Ignore the zebra crossing and run almost drunkenly through the street while cars are still circulating (this is almost a national tradition). Both-ways street? Let me park my big-ass truck here and not let anyone through. Bike-lane? I, as a cyclist, want to draw the symbol for infinity while getting in the way of other 8 lanes. Subway doors are opening? Better charge like a quarterback and maybe punch my way through before letting anyone from such wagon out. In the midst of this, you see confused tourists being pushed by the locals because we just can’t wait to cross even if the stoplight turned green 2 seconds after. You see people waiting at the zebra crossing wondering why people are crossing all over the avenue. If you see people trying to do things correctly in the vicinity of streets or public transport, they’re most likely tourists. Works the other way around. Once in Vienna I crossed a street following my mexican tradition of doing it wherever and whenever I please (and ignoring the zebra crossing), and a policeman gave me a warning! It was a tired, compassionate one, as in saying ‘you people just don’t know any better, so I’ll let it pass’. I was so embarrassed for me and for my country. I’m trying to be better now.
#21The motherland of Russia.
Disclaimer: Note that some of these bullet points are just generalizations based on my experience living here as a foreigner for 6 years. Some locals do/don't follow the rules, but the Russians know they are generally accurate.
1.) Handshake by the door entrance: Never shake a person's hand before entering the doorstep as doing so is cursing the house owner. Don't do it.
2.) Whistling in the public/or anywhere: By doing such a casual gesture immediately identifies you as a non-local. This is because the Russians believe that by whistling you're blowing your wealth away.
3.) Similar to many European countries, you stand on the right lane of the escalator by default. The left lane is reserved for those who are in a hurry. So don't be that idiot that stands in the middle of an escalator, people in big cities like Moscow don't tolerate that very well from my experience. Which leads me to the next point.
4.) Not knowing when to show aggression. The Russians are known to be direct and confrontational, they are not afraid to show their fangs when feel threatened. So if you're the timid little guy who grew up in Asia and tend to swallow up things, there you are~non local.
5.) Not saying приятного аппетита всем(Priatnava Appetita) as you enter a room full of people eating. It's a polite gesture of wishing people to enjoy their meal, some of you know it better as Bon Appetit. Not saying it doesn't make you a non-local, but by saying it certainly shows you have lived in this land for some years.
6.) Not saying будьте здоровы(boot-eh zdarovi). You say that when someone sneezes, it means bless you! Similar to above, saying this to a Russian when he/she sneezes, they'll embrace you better as part of the российский (rassiski) family.(note I didn't use the word русский(ruski) because this term is reserved for Russians by blood.)
7.) Two is better than one? Not necessarily so in the Russian culture. Buying flowers for the girl you're in love with in even number is as good as wishing her dead. Don't believe me? Try it on your own ;)
Image credits: Kallmann Choong
#22Madrid, Spain: Eating lunch before 1 p.m.
"We are well aware that it's our meal times that are unusual, but they are very culturally ingrained and expected to be followed. In big companies where there is an office cafeteria, or in schools, 1pm is a normal time for lunch — it's considered earlyish but more or less in the middle of the work day. Otherwise the normal time is 2pm, or even 3pm on weekends."#23Johannesburg, South Africa: Being friendly or talkative with strangers.
"Usually — though not always — the inhabitants of Pretoria aren’t very friendly or chatty. Not only do we not have the patience for it, but we’re also wary of the safety risk of stopping to talk to some random person on the street. Most non-locals, however, will chat on for ages about something they saw in a shop, or just approach you while you’re minding your own business and dive into a conversation about the weather. If it’s not a compliment or about sport, we probably don’t want to hear it."#24Boston, Massachusetts: Stopping to watch street performers.
"Non-locals stop and watch street performers, especially in the T stations. These people are literally situated for tourists. Everyone else walks by, trying to cram onto the subway, to get to where they want to go."#25
I have grown up in Sarnia ON Canada my whole life all 38 boring years of it and for the life of me tourists please STOP ASKING WHERE MCDONALD’S IS!
Image credits: Lillian Shuman
#26South Central Alberta Canada here. (Lived in Calgary for ten years)
Tourists are known by the fact they wear a sweater or jacket when it’s below 25 C. Most people will be complaining it’s too hot.
They think moose are cuddly. No, they will seriously mess you up.
They take selfies with grizzlies/moose/bears/elk.
They try to pet a bear/moose/whatever.
They use aboot, or eh. No. Just don’t.
Tans aren’t too common, at least the really dark tans aren’t.
Cutting queues. I know that sounds odd, but even if it’s a relaxed one, like you’d see at the C-train or bus stations, there is still one.
Riding the C-train when it’s 35 then complaining it’s too hot when and if the train breaks down, or service is interrupted due to people passing out.
Expecting AC on the C-train. Dream on. When you get fifty people crowded into one of the cars you might as well crawl into an oven. And that’s on a good day!
Calling the C-train an LRT )Light rail train.)
Not knowing what, or where, the C of Red is.
Bashing a Canadian’s favourite hockey team. They might do it, but will give you quite a dirty look if you do the same.
Not saying thank you to a bus driver.
Tipping a HUGE amount after a meal. Now don’t get me wrong, they’re always welcome, but you’ll always get a surprised thank you, and some will ask what part of the States you’re from. If you return expect to be waited on hand and foot.
Tipping the bare minimum for good service, or not tipping at all. This will earn you the barest minimum service the next time you come.
Not saying thank you to someone holding a door. You might even earn a muttered and sarcastic “You’re welcome” for that.
Expecting us to celebrate X holiday (Where X is a country’s holiday (not a religious one) such as the 4th of July) and being surprised when we don’t.
Taking pictures of snow, or being surprised at snow in September/early June. It’s rare, but it happens. (Grandma remembers one year when there was snow during the Stampede in July)
Not knowing what or when the Stampede is.
Willingly going anywhere near downtown during Stampede without going to the Stampede. This means via car, bus, or C-train. It’s a flipping zoo.
I think that’s about it. I’m commenting more on Calgary, because I lived there much longer than the town I currently live in.#27Concord, New Hampshire: Owning an unusually nice car.
"We're glad you chose New Hampshire for your second home."#28
I’m Egyptian and live in Egypt. When tourists buy all that overpriced pharaonic crap. Tourists get scammed like you wouldn't believe. They buy these, like, picture things with hieroglyphics on them, they buy pyramid and mummy and camel and sphinx figurines, they buy papyrus paper with random symbols on it. They buy all sorts of stuff that's made especially for them, costs fifty times more than it should and its sole purpose is to get their money.
Image credits: Sara Ahmed
#29I haven’t seen an answer from anyone living in the Middle East so here goes.
Lebanon used to be quite the touristy country and still has a lot to offer tourists if they’re brave enough to come with the Syrian war right next door. So if you’re planning to visit and don’t want to stick out like a sore thumb here are some things that you might want to consider.
Warning: A lot of the things aren’t what is considered good etiquette or even legal in developed countries but that is what makes the Lebanese experience so great.
1. Patiently waiting your turn in small sandwich shops and restaurants. You’ll find some of the best sandwiches in the world in these small shops, however, the service is chaotic. During rush hours it’s a battle of who can push through the sea of people to get to the register first. If you’re going to stand there and wait for the line to clear then you’ll probably be leaving on an empty stomach.
2. Not bargaining when buying things from local shops. Although this has gotten better with time, most local shops have the price tags adjusted with the idea that shoppers will try to bargain and lower the price when they’re buying something. This means unless you don’t try to negotiate the price then you’re going to be ripped off on almost everything.
3. Waiting at pedestrian crossings. Although we have stop lights and pedestrian crossings in most populated areas these have never been taken seriously. It’s the norm for people to cross the road with oncoming traffic or for cars to ignore red lights.
4. Driving straight on roads or staying in specific lanes on the highway. The roads in Lebanon are notorious for their huge potholes and absence of clear lines. Locals have adapted to this and will always try and steer away from the endless potholes and just create their own lanes on the highways.
Last but not least, Not wanting to use your hands when eating. A lot of the local food, including Hummus, is meant to be grabbed or dipped into by hand using the local bread. Anyone seen using utensils to put the food on the bread is directly singled out as a non-local.
Image credits: Elie Daou
#30I no longer live there, but I did spend 16 years living there, and I’m only 17, so I feel qualified. I lived in Michigan’s little known Upper Peninsula, the wild, untamed patch of land that could easily be compared to Alaska, just without the months of darkness. The U.P.’s main business comes in the summer months, and it comes from tourism. Tourists can be spotted doing and saying many things Yoopers (rear round residents of the Upper Peninsula) find annoying, such as:
1. “I can’t believe how beautiful it is here!” Most if not all Yoopers fully acknowledge how beautiful the U.P. is, we simply never discuss it. Only a tourist would talk about the U.P.’s beauty.
2. “I can’t wait to swim in Lake Superior” HAHA, yes you can. You just don’t know it yet. Lake Superior is the coldest lake I’ve ever swam in, and most northerners can’t even suffer through it. There’s still icebergs floating around in June. A Yooper would know this, a tourist would not.
3. “Can you point me towards (incoherent babbling)” The U.P. has many, many names that are nearly unpronounceable, however, Yoopers are very used to words like “Kitchitikipi” and “Epoufette”, and can say them with ease.
4. Taking pictures of…well..everything. Living up there for so long, I saw tourists take pictures of nearly everything. I suppose I can understand the wonder of the Mighty Mackinac Bridge, and other views such as Cut River Valley, but I’ve also watched tourists take pictures of things like trees and birds. No Yooper would take pictures of a seagull, as seagulls are the bane of our very existence.
I could ramble for days about tourists, but I feel this answer gives a good enough idea of how the residents can tell apart other residents and tourists.#31Rome, Italy: Looking extremely white.
"Italians usually have tanned or dark skin and it’s extremely rare to find someone who is exceptionally white with fair hair. We often understand they’re tourists by their pale glow."#32Amsterdam, Netherlands: Wearing a helmet while biking.
"Locals ride around without a helmet."#33Bangkok here! I’ve adjusted to most of these, being here for over 2 years, but these are the general dead giveaways if you’re a non-local:
1- Bargaining: If you’re anything except Thai looking, the locals, from supermarkets, to taxis, will always try to give you a higher price so you start bargaining. To the Thais, if you’re not Thai, there’s a high chance you’re a traveller, and chances are you’re gullible, and they will try to take advantage. Unless you learn the tricks to bargaining, then they’ll know how to play it safe.
2- Spicy Food: When you order food from a “hole in the wall” kind of place, or pretty much any other restaurant, and add a request for your food to not be spicy, then you haven’t lived here long enough.
3- Home Etiquette: Generally, in most places in Thailand, it’s customary to take your shoes off before you enter someone’s house (in most SEA countries actually). When people just brazenly walk into someone’s house without realising the proper etiquette, it’s kind of a give away.
4- Pad Thai: Now I know the love for this Thai cuisine in most Western countries, but live here long enough, it won’t be your favourite thing anymore. In fact you’ll find a lot of reasons never to order it again. Also, there’s a lot better things than Pad Thais…ever had Tom Yum?
5- Road Crossing: This might be one of my favourites to witness. Travellers and expats get so scared of the traffic in Bangkok. They will make sure the roads are completely clear before attempting to cross. Do locals do that? Big fat NAH! There’s an unspoken language between the driver and pedestrian. The driver will know when to slow down, and the pedestrian will know when not to cross. The pros of course take it to another level. They’ll just raise their hand and walk onto the road without looking twice. It always works…#34
Bath, UK. One of the most popular tourist places in the UK, home of Romans, the medieval abbey, Jane Austen and beautiful Georgian architecture. I love my city, but it can be swamped by tourists fairly regularly (especially at Xmas).
Driving. If you’re a local you know not to drive in the centre of Bath because it’s hell. We have a one way system which so confusing (even for locals!), lots of pedestrianised bits and one way streets. Plus parking is freaking expensive! Also the locals just don’t give a f**k, because cars are so few and far between we tend to walk in the middle of the road in the centre of town. And if you’re driving don’t expect us to move out of the way too quickly.
Spending money at the Xmas markets. Now I don’t mind supporting local businesses and there are a few stalls I go to because I know they do good products, but for the most part they’re all crap. Tourists spend loads of money because they get swept up in the ‘Xmas spirit’. Also most of the locals avoid that part town at this time, it gets too busy, and in comparison to other xmas markets in Europe it’s not that great.
Not going to the good events. Comedy shows, music gigs, local theatre productions and local pubs. There are so many events on in Bath that are free/relatively cheap and really good. Most of the pubs often have live bands, comedians or poetry events going on, and the tourists never bother with them. Sure a lot of the regular tourists hotspots are interesting and beautiful, but they’re often expensive and crowded. Bath is famous for its literary and music events, so it’s always crazy that the tourists never go to them.
Image credits: Hannah Crouch
No real Parisian would dare to wear those false University Hoodies such as Sorbonne University Hoodies, many buy them without knowing that it has nothing to do with the University.
Hanging out in areas such as St-Michel, I mean it’s cool but they’re not meeting real Parisians there maybe some students from Assas, Louis-Le-Grand or La Sorbonne.
Wearing Paris tee-shirts.
That one easy, but speaking in English is very rare in France, most English speakers you’ll encounter there are tourists
Taking photos of everything, literally EVERYTHING, I saw to tourists taking photos of metro maps, sidewalks and even trash cans, really.
Using metro maps.
Style, especially for American families, I thought that we were wearing quite the same things, but I remarked that Americans are more sportwear (like fathers wearing Am.Football jerseys or hoodies, wearing sports caps in their 50’s, it’s much less common here in France) or seem to care less about their style than Europeans.
Thinking that France=Paris, France is a much more diverse that people know, they’re so many other beautiful places in France.
Visiting monuments, despite all the beautiful buildings that Paris can offer, many of native Parisians probably never visited many of them. Sometimes I feel that we don’t measure the chance of living in such a beautiful place.#36Manhattan here. All of these will immediately identify you as a tourist.
I don’t care if Bill Gates is walking down the street hand in hand with Derek Jeter and the ghost of Tupac. Most New Yorkers will shrug and get on with their day. A Rod and J Lo were outside of my gym a few weeks back, and not even my one friend (who’s a pretty big Yankee’s fan) could muster up the enthusiasm to take a closer look. Meanwhile, every single tourist spends half of their time gawking at the manhole covers and standing in traffic. Speaking of which…
Waiting for Traffic Signs:
Yes: Jay-walking is illegal. Nobody who lives here cares. I watched a guy yesterday walk across 1st Avenue in the middle of traffic with nothing but a raised middle finger to protect him. This is, while not the norm, still more acceptable than seeing an open street and not crossing because of a light.
I understand that that’s the Empire State Building… and that’s the Flatiron Building… and that’s a squirrel. Taking 30 pictures of each is aggravating. I’m trying to get to work/the gym/home/somewhere else. You are standing in between myself and that destination, stopped in the middle of the sidewalk.
In the city, people walk at a faster pace than elsewhere. You move slower to the right, and faster to the left (predominantly a rule for stairs and escalators).
Being Exceptionally Loud On the Subway:
If your voice is pitched above a whisper on the subway, you’re generally either homeless, a mariachi band, or a tourist. Based on clothing, it’s usually pretty easy to tell which one is which.
If you are in a Papa Johns, Domino’s, Panda Express, Taco Bell, or other similar variety, you are probably a tourist (or really high). You can get better pizza/chinese/mexican food out of any local trash bin, but most locals just get it at any of the random corner restaurant that you might pass. They’re all better than most of the chains, and usually pretty competitively priced.#37These are the easiest ways to spot a non-local in Edinburgh:
Wearing an jacket/using an umbrella for the slightest amount of rain - It’s Scotland, it rains a lot and most locals are used to an odd shower without getting bothered by it that much. To quote my Czech friend - “I don’t know if Scots are born waterproof, but I’m not.”
Wearing one of those awful Tam-o-Shanter hats - I have never ever in all my life seen a Scot wear one of these seriously, it’s just embarrassing
Being surprised at how often locals swear - Basically the language of Scotland
In general, not understanding what any locals say - Trust me, I am so used to this one. Scots English is different to English and it’s just infuriating attempting to come up with the English translation - some words just don’t translate!
Not queuing - Nothing more frustrating than someone trying to jump the queue for a bus/at a shop
If they go into Old Town during August - There are some exceptions to this but if you want to spot a non local, look no further than the Royal Mile during the festival - it’s packed with them!
But of course the easiest way to tell if someones local or not - can they pronounce Edinburgh, loch, Milngavie and Carnegie correctly!#38
Philippines. Let’s set aside the fact that they look like a foreigner (white, black, too oriental, etc..) 1. Not haggling with street shops. Street shops which are outside the mall are haven for local hagglers. It became a skill to acquire something as cheap as possible. 2. Generous tipping. Very rarely for us locals to tip. It is not a requirement. If a fellow countryman tipped quite generously, chances are that he/she is a “balikbayan” (a local who worked abroad and came back). On the other-hand, most Western foreigners (mostly Americans) never failed to tip. They make waiters happy. 3. Wearing the native hats (salakot/buri) at beaches. We only see locals wear this at farms. In beaches, most who wear these are foreigners. But..ok, some of our elder locals wear this too anywhere. My point is, most young locals won’t. 4. Awkward behavior while riding our local “jeepney”. Almost instantly you can tell if they’re foreigners by the way they sit, they pay the fare and then finally telling the driver their destination and if they wanted to disembark. 5. Being unbelievably surprised at the infamous traffic of Manila. We locals complain a lot about our unsolvable traffic problem but we’re really not surprised anymore. We get surprised if there’s a day without traffic. 6. Foreigners often voice out how unbelievable traffic could get. Surprised with our Traffic Laws and its why’s. Most foreigners find it absurd why we have a number coding scheme, a day where certain plate numbers ending in specific number cannot drive on our main high-ways and streets. Why are there humans (traffic aides) assisting drivers at intersections despite having working traffic lights. And our (dismal) speed limits in express lanes.
If you are very white or very black you are most likely a foreigner without doing anything. but sometimes you're not. Some Egyptians look like you.
If you don't look a lot different, and you're a native speaker of Arabic your accent will show that you're not Egyptian no matter how clever you are in Egyptian dialect,(most Arabs are).even more obvious, If you are a non Arabic speaker no matter how good you are in Arabic.
If you don't say anything, but you are carrying a map, wearing or buying any of the tourist pharaohs/ancient Islamic stuff.
If your skin looks like you've recently had sun baths.
If you're smiling a lot to strangers and trying to start small talks all the time (vacation mood) using hello in Arabic in your sweet funny way.
Some people have a special national outfit.
even if you are Egyptian from Alexandria, Luxer,portsaid or the countryside or any other place probably your accent will show.
Maybe in Alexandria and other cities on sea cost they will have a lot to say answering this question, I always feel spotted as a non local easily by them I'm the one who’s asking about the shortest way to the beach buying zalabia and eating it while walking, smiling a lot and starting small talks in a vacation mood ..etc.
However, if you are a foreigner, you'll love it. the locals are very friendly and welcoming. They will be thrilled to hear you trying to say anything in Egyptian Arabic.#40southern california!!! (specifically the area around LA)
• calling california “cali”. don't do it. the only people who say “cali” are not from california.
• saying the “i” before any freeway (such as i-405). we just say “the 405” or “the 110”
• driving! so! slow! in california, the speed limit is basically a suggestion. i have a police man friend to told me this saying that he and his buddies like to go by in terms of how fast you can drive until you'll get pulled over “9 you're fine, 10 you’re mine”. ( we all drive an average of 10-15 over the speed limit here)
• not considering traffic when driving through LA. you could easily add over an hour to your drive if you get stuck in rush hour traffic (from 4–7 pm usually is the worst. and mornings too from like 6–9)
• taking public transportation. unlike other cities, no one in LA typically will take any form of public transportion unless absolutely necessary
-the water here is COLD because of the alaskan gulf current coming down our coast. if you want warm waters, either go to hawaii or wait a couple years until global warming heats it up
-being surprised that there are great whites in the water. a large portion off of southern california’s coast is a nursery for juvenile great whites. all these shark sightings happen every year! it's perfectly normal and they probably won't hurt you
-being surprised that we have stingrays in our waters. the first thing many of us are taught when we start going to the beach is to shuffle our feet so we don't step on a stingray. you should too
-going to the beach super early and being surprised that it's foggy. we have this super cool thing called the marine layer which burns off at around 11 or 12 and then the masses of people come in. tourists will also be surprised at how many people are at the beaches after 12
•you can't pronounce any names of cities/streets. our street/city names are hard. some are pronounced the way it's pronounced in spanish and some are pronounced white af. there's no reason to it
•saying “hella” automatically means you aren’t from southern california
•if you think any other fast food place is better than in n out, you aren't from california
•you actually know how to drive when it rains. we don't. at all.
•you know nothing about earthquakes. we practice earthquake drills ALL. THE. TIME. we have a yearly earthquake drill AS A STATE called the great california shakeout where all businesses and schools participate (i'm not sure if this is statewide but definitely in southern california). most of us have lived through several earthquakes and they really aren't that big of a deal
•if you hate mexican food there's a very high probability you aren’t from here. it's basically our state food
•your language!! a lot of us casually speak in that laid back surfer-like style, especially if we live near the beach. i use the words dude, bro, sick, and many others, just casually thrown into a sentence. we also say things like “no yeah” (yes), “yeah no” (no), or “yeah no for sure” (definitely).#41London, UK: Ordering a full English breakfast.
"A tourist will order a fry-up for the ~experience~ but everyone else is perfectly happy chugging Crunchy Nut cornflakes straight from the box."#42
I live in Texas. We can easily spot people who are “not from here”. If you don’t have a sense of humor, you might want to skip this post. Especially if you are from Texas. They wait their turn Texas is a state full of people who are all convinced it is their turn. They wait for no man (or woman or child). If we see someone standing and waiting their turn, it totally discombobulates us. We stop and look around to see if there is something catastrophic happening. They know how to drive. People who are not from here know how to merge onto the highway. They match the speed of the interstate traffic, then ease in one at a time, like a well-orchestrated zipper. Real Texans go whatever speed they think is right and force the interstate traffic to accommodate them. People who are not from here come to a full and complete stop at red lights. This scares the Hell out of real Texans and will most likely get you rear-ended. Real Texans know that yellow means “fast” and red means “floor it”. See: They do not wait their turn. See: Real Texans do not wait turn turn. People who are not from here allow you to get in front of them on the road. Real Texans let no one get in front of them. If you signal you are changing lanes, we speed up to block you from getting in. Which leads us to our next anomaly. People who are not from here, signal. Real Texans do not signal. That tips other drivers to where you are trying to go and they will try to get ahead of you. They Correctly Pronounce Spanish Words (And I’m not a Spanish speaker or a linguist, so please feel free to enlighten me.) Texans have a habit of butchering Spanish words (usually geographical words) with a maliciousness that is palpable and will double-dog-dare-you to call them out on it. The street of Manchaca (mahn chock uh) becomes Manshack. If you’re not from here and ask them about Manchaca, pronouncing it correctly, they will feign ignorance and tell you they know nothing of it until you mispronounce it Manshack. Then they will help you find it. They Mispronounce Spanish Words At the same time, Texans pronounce some Spanish words correctly (usually words for food) and people who aren’t from here, well, don’t. Taco is tock oh, not tack oh. Burrito is brr ee toh, not burr it toh. Queso is kay so, not kway so or que so. And most importantly, it’s sair vay suh, not ker vezz ah. That’s beer for you folks who aren’t from here. And Texans know what these things are, how to eat them (take the corn husk off that tamale folks!), and how to order them. Usually. They Cannot Handle Properly Seasoned Foods We like things spicy here in Texas. Grab a cerveza and wade on in. We may not know how to drive or wait, but dammit the food here is excellent. (Thank you Mexico!) But it is definitely not for woosies. (Smile)
#43I live in Tangerang (Indonesia), which is basically next to Jakarta, so I’ll include Jakarta as well. Behaviors that make you look foreign :
-Crossing the street. In our country, there’s no such thing as pedestrian right of way. In order to cross the road without traffic light, one must have the right timing and walk as fast as they can. Cars (and bikes) won’t stop for you. If a person waits for any vehicle to give him a way for a long period of time, he’s either a foreigner or a spoiled kid who have never walked outside.
-Looking like Westerner/Middle Easterner/Black Africans. East Asians can still blend in because they can be mistaken as Chinese-Indonesians.
-Walk really fast. People here walk really slow.
-Taking pictures of things that we consider usual stuffs.
-Doing selfie while riding a motorcycle taxi.
-Intentionally trying to get tanned at midday. A big no for us locals.
-Smiling for “unusual” occasions, like smiling at security guards without saying anything or smiling at random beggars.
-Handing/receiving things with the left hand without feeling guilty. In here it’s considered rude to use the left hand.
-Desperate to find toilet paper while there are plenty of bidet sprays to clean your thing.
-Dressing in a long robe (like Arabs and Pakistanis) or sari (like South Asians).
-Looking excited when riding a rickshaw.#44
The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region! Well… (All tongue in cheek, guys, relax ;) ) If you saunter slowly down the street gawking at the buildings and desperately trying to avoid being dripped on by the air conditioners…. you ain’t a Honger. True Hongers would just barge straight ahead eating curry fishballs in one hand and looking at their cell phones with the other. God help anyone they bump into, lol. If you stand on the left of the escalator…. you ain’t a Honger. True Hongers always know to walk on the left and stand stately on the right. If you insist on taking the cable car up the Peak, even though there is a 2 hour wait… you ain’t a Honger. True Hongers know to just take the damn bus up the peak. Its cheaper too. If you prefer Disneyland over Ocean Park, you ain’t a true Honger. :D If you go to bed before 11 PM, you ain’t a true Honger. True Hongers are night owls and would rather be up at 3 AM pounding beats at LFK or eating curry fishballs in Mong Kok. :D If you speak “proper Cantonese” without the internet slang and the proper anglicisms (“ba see” for bus, “si do beh leh” for strawberry, etc), you ain’t a true Honger, and many otherwise native Cantonese speakers from Guangzhou are caught out in this way. True Hongers use “lazy sounds” in their Cantonese and the proper anglicisms in proper Cantonese grammar.
Zagreb, Croatia. It is relatively easy to recognize tourists in Zagreb. Especially in the summer. Tourists, obviously, speak foreign languages in most cases. They pronounce the name of the city as Zabreg* or Zagrab*. Or something like that. They very often have large backpacks, some of which are suitable for camping. They sometimes walk in groups or pairs. Holding hands or not. They sometimes follow the leader (tourist guide). They take photos of famous sights. Actually, they take photos of everythi