Look let’s be real, if you’re wandering around a new city with your hefty rucksack, knee-length socks and visor then you’re gonna stick out like an angry pimple. But holidaying overseas doesn’t necessarily mean you’re gonna be stuck metaphorically brandishing a big sign that says “I AM NOT FROM HERE” for all to see and look down on.
You see ’em in flocks. Fanny-packed groups of tourists, pointing at landmarks and scouring over maps. You know how you can have a murder of crows and a flamboyance of flamingoes? The collective group noun for a buncha tourists is a waddle.
But never fear your pretty little jet-lagged heads ‘coz our top hacks will have you stopped on the street by a silly fool (in a visor, yep) who wants directions from you, a *cough* local.
Get around right
Looking out of place makes you an easier target for people to hike up their prices and, depending on where you go, you might wind up with a cloud of pickpockets scoping out the fanny pack goodness at every turn.
It seems obvious, but if you want to appear like a local you gotta go where the locals go. This means the restaurants, the sights, the shops. Scope the place out and see where the real essence of the city is. Maybe even grab yourself a local guide that’ll give you a personalised tour.
Public transport is also a crucial one. Don’t be the doofus who blocks the entire queue in the London Underground just ‘coz you couldn’t figure out where to top up or buy a ticket. A handy hint for ya: if you’ve got yourself a Travel Money Oz Currency Pass card*, it’ll double as an Oyster Card too so all you have to do is tap on.
Learn the local lingo
This is especially important if you’re travelling somewhere that speaks a totally diff language to the one you already struggle with after a few cheeky bevvies. But even in English-speaking countries, it pays to be able to communicate a certain way.
There might be a local hangout that is never actually referred to by its real name, or their particular slang is slightly different to what you’re used to. Cockney slang for example, is baffling to a lot of folk. If you ask for a price and they say “Lady Godiva“, you’d best know that means a fiver if you don’t want them muttering about tourists under their breath as you leave.
The other thing to know when communicating is where it’s appropriate to barter – and how. In Spanish-speaking countries for example, you can use the phrase “Demasiado, precio más bajo por favor” – it means “Too much, lower price please”, so you’ll be able to get your bartering started. Then negotiate from there so both parties are happy.
Manage your cash
Nothing will make you stick out quite as much as a dodgy understanding of money. Not everywhere has the funky coloured notes that we have (ah Australia, you rainbow-souled land), so pay attention to the cash you’ve got. Some values look the same and you don’t wanna get them confused – if you chuck a fifty on the table to pay for a $2 charge, they’re gonna know you’re loaded and hike up the prices.
Always carry at least a bit of cash though – you never know when you’re gonna swing by a market that doesn’t take card or will need to leave a lil’ tip for an extra-friendly waiter. Save your card for the big ticket items like souvenirs and day trips.
And last but not least, seriously, ditch the coin purse and fanny packs. Exchange your cash before you go at Travel Money Oz so you’re prepped as soon as you step off the plane, then hold it safely and discreetly. Pop a Currency card and $100 in discreet places, ladies and gents. Get creative.
*Visit travelmoneyoz.com for full details on cash and card. Travel Money Oz Currency Pass issuer Heritage Bank Ltd (ABN 32 087 652 024, AFSL 240 984) consider the PDS.