The first time I realized I didn’t look like a local came during the first hours of my honeymoon trip to Greece. Suffering from jet lag, my new husband and I decided to take a late night walk from our Athens hotel to see the Parthenon. As we were crossing a nearly deserted street, some young men raced by and yelled out the car window, “Hello, Americans!”
Hubby and I laughed and wondered how they knew. The next day we figured it out. Only the Americans were wearing white tennis shoes. The Greeks all had on black or brown shoes with black or brown socks.
Blending in on the road is a key piece of staying safe when you travel. Evelyn Hannon, who has been traveling the world for years and runs a wonderful Web site for women travelers called Journeywoman, has some great tips to help women travelers stay safe.
“When other travelers ask you what you do for a living and you’re not sure if they can be trusted, tell them you’re a policewoman on holiday.”
And, “BE COY; CARRY A LOCAL STORE’S SHOPPING BAG.” One of the first things Hannon does when she arrives in a new city is to find the local grocery store. “I make a small purchase just so that I get a shopping bag with the store’s logo on it. To avoid looking like a tourist and to fit in, I leave my backpack at the hotel and carry my camera and maps in this grocery bag. One added benefit — thieves are far less prone to steal my shopping bag than to grab my backpack.”