You have been dreaming about your trip abroad for as long as you can remember. Finally, you saved enough money to buy a ticket and spend a fabulous week in the city of your dreams. You arrive three hours early for your flight just to ensure nothing can go wrong. You fly for what feels like days over countless homes, lakes, and oceans. You finally arrive at your destination and within moments of getting of the plane, you find yourself being confronted by the locals for your choice in attire.
If you think this story sounds a bit far fetched, you may be surprised to learn that situations such as this one happen every day. This is because while people often choose to visit foreign countries because of the amazing cultural differences they have to offer, these same individuals often underestimate how failing to respect these cultural differences through their choice in clothing can impact their trip and their safety. Thankfully, you can help to prevent this situation from happening during your trip through the use of the following five fashion tips.
Tip #1: Consider The Religious Environment
Many countries have strong religious beliefs which impact the way their citizens are allowed to interact, dress, and even conduct business. When visiting a country with a strong religious presence, it is important to respect the native beliefs by choosing to wear modest clothing.
For instance, when visiting a country with strong Muslim influences, woman will want to wear long skirts and long sleeve shirts in order to avoid showing excess skin. Woman will also want to carry a shawl with them at all times so that their head can be covered when entering holy locations or when interacting with devote Muslims. Men on the other hand, will simply need to stick with long pants and long sleeve shirts that effectively cover them from the neck down. While this type of modesty may seem unnecessary in the United States, it is an essential part of many middle eastern cultures.
Tip #2: Avoid Clothes That Scream Tourist
Tourists are often the target of pickpockets and other criminals who are looking to take advantage of individuals who are likely carrying large sums of cash and will not be around long enough to pursue criminal charges. Therefore, if you really want to remain safe in an unfamiliar land, you will need to avoid clothes that advertise you as a tourist.
Some common no-no's when it comes to tourist clothing are caps and t-shirts that advertise your favorite sports team or your home town. These clothing choices tell criminals just how far from home you really are. If you absolutely cannot live without your t-shirt and baseball cap, opt for a plain t-shirt and cap that provide no information about where your from.
Another major violation of this tip is the use of fanny packs. Not only do these accessories scream tourist, they are simply unfashionable. With many secure money belts and purses on the market, it is time to leave that fanny pack at home with the rest of your 80's memorabilia.
Tip #3: Leave Your Valuables At Home
While you may be eager to show off that expensive watch you got for your birthday or the designer bag you just purchased, bringing these items along on your trip can easily spell trouble. Just as with clothing that identifies you as a tourist, choosing to wear flashy or expensive items can make you the target of a pickpocket or other criminal.
While it is never a good idea to wear you expensive jewelry while traveling abroad, this does not mean that you have to dress down throughout your entire trip. In face, most cultures frown upon casual attire. So go ahead and dress like a million bucks, just be sure that nothing you are wearing is really worth that much.
Tip #4: Be Aware Of The Cultural Acceptance Of Certain Colors
In the United States, people tend to wear any color they want, any time that they want. In fact, even colors that once held significant meaning, such as the use of black clothing to convey mourning, are now widely accepted for use in every day apparel. This is not the case in all countries.
While white is a color often reserved for warm temperatures and weddings in the U.S., this is actually the color of mourning in China and is not commonly worn in the absence of a recent death. In order to ensure you do not send the wrong message or accidentally offend your guests, be sure to research the specific meaning of different colors before choosing the wardrobe for your upcoming trip.
Tip #5: Leave Your Casual Shoes In The Hotel Room
While it is quite common for Americans to walk around in slip-on sandals or sneakers, these types of footwear are often frowned upon by other cultures. If you really want to fit in with the locals and avoid the uncomfortable stares as you walk down the street, you will need to leave your casual shoes in your hotel room.
Instead of sporting a pair of sneakers throughout your entire trip, consider trading your comfort shoes in for a pair of high-quality leather shoes. Not only will this help you to look your best at all times, but it will also allow you to take advantage of local shoe shining services that are often a big part of the local culture.
A Final Thought
There is a lot of advice out there about what you should and should not do when traveling abroad. However, the absolute best advice you can receive is to always take your cues from the locals. For instance, you notice that all the locals dress in their Sunday best even when heading to the market, or that the women in the country always play a submissive role when interacting with the men. Choosing to following this example will help to keep you from being labeled a tourist and will ultimately allow you to enjoy a far more meaningful cultural experience.