An American Girl’s Guide to Looking like a Tourist

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I hate that the word “tourist” has become a negative thing, associated with travelers who are less cultured and hip and instagram-savvy than their jet-setting counterparts.

A “tourist” is just someone traveling for pleasure, which is the majority of us at one time or another. Tourists are people too!

This compassion, of course, only applies when I’m being the tourist, not when annoying families are in my city blocking the entrance to the tube so that I can’t make it to work on time.

Those tourists are terrible.

Sidenote: if you want more information about traveling or to chat about other travel destinations around the world, join my exclusive travel talk community on Facebook. You can ask questions, share information, or just enjoy beautiful pictures to inspire your wanderlust. Click here to join and I’ll add you!

Joking aside (or about to begin, you choose), I think we should all up our tourist games this year and embrace what it really means to be a tourist in a new city.

Here are some tips to keep in mind.

1. The bigger the map, the better

Leave your GPS-enabled iPhone at home.

We’ve got no time for your tiny screens or inconspicuous directions.

If you’re not holding up a life-size map of the city that is best held by 2 people, you’re not doing it right.

Bonus points if your map has pop-ups of the most popular landmarks.

2. When the locals can’t understand you, talk louder

So you’ve tried your best to learn Spanish, but there’s only so much you can pick up on during the flight.

Once you’re past ‘hola,’ you’ve got no clue what to do.

In this case, JUST TALK LIKE THIS.

Keep on repeating yourself and increasing your vocal strength until the shopkeeper understands that you meant “Looking for the ice cream.”

You might also enjoy  34 Absolute Must-Do Things in Edinburgh with Kids

The look on their face is not of confusion, but an international symbol for “yell in my general direction so I can understand your language.”


3. Don’t do your research

Being a tourist is about learning by doing, so why would you look things up before you go?

There’s no reason to understand how their culture works or how not to be offensive to their customs.

So what if you take a joke picture in front of a thousand year old memorial to a historic war? OOPS, DIDN’T KNOW!

4. Stop in heavily-trafficked areas

When you’re out and about, you’re going to want to observe the locals.

The best place to do that is in busy areas where lots of people are trying to get somewhere.

To get the full effect, go during rush hour and make sure to block as many people as possible.

Sure, it may annoy a few people, but it will give you a taste of how they deal with confrontation and may provide you with some hilarious stories of the time you got yelled at by a businessman.

5. Channel your inner selfie diva

Selfies aren’t just a Snapchat pose, they’re a way of life.

To make yours stand out, take selfies everywhere you can think that is slightly exotic.

A Chinese McDonalds? Selfie.

Random side street? Selfie.

House that looks famous but you can’t remember where it’s from? Selfie.

Next to a frowning soldier/policeman? Selfie.

The room you’re being detained in after getting into a confrontation with a businessman on the tube? CAN YOU SAY SELFIE!

Coming to London Soon?

Hey! Since you’re here I’m assuming you’re intent on visiting this amazing city soon! A great way to really immerse yourself in UK culture is see the sights with the help of a guided tour. I’ve picked out a few highly recommended ones below!

Tower of London Tour with Crown Jewels: One of the best things about having a Royal family is imagining you’ll be a part of it one day… and what better way than to imagine yourself in their jewels! Or at least stare dumbfoundedly. Either way, this touris a sure fire way to get dazzled by London.

You might also enjoy  The Definitive London Packing List for Every Season (Written by a Londoner)

Westminster to Greenwich River Thames Cruise: London is built around the River Thames, and one could even say it’s the most important part of the whole city! As such there’s no better, or relaxing for that matter, way to see the sights than from the view of the river itself! This tourtakes you around the city and shows why all Londoners are really still rugged sea voyagers at heart, if maybe just a little more posh now.

Oxford, Stratford, and Cotswolds: Londoners would have you fooled, but there’s more to this beautiful nation than just what remains within the confines of London… shocker I know!! And if picturesque beauty is what you’re looking for I really recommend checking out the quaint and historical towns that scatter the outskirts. If nothing else, this tourwill give you a break from commuting by the tube, and we all need that eventually.


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Amy W

3 years ago

This post really made me laugh this morning – so true!

Amy x /


3 years ago

Thanks Amy!! Glad you enjoyed it. 😀


3 years ago

Loved this post. Too funny

Chrissie Em

3 years ago

loved this!


3 years ago

Lol this is perfect! I’ve definitely been a tourist, but now I really want to be a TOURIST.


3 years ago

You struck a nerve mentioning when people stop in crowded areas. That KILLS me! Lol. Great job. Cheers.

-Courtney from

Katie Karambelas

3 years ago

Too funny!


3 years ago

Hahaha this is hilarious! I like the talking louder tip.

9 Things I Wish I Had Told Myself Before Moving Abroad - girl gone london

3 years ago

[…] more Girl Gone London? Then check out… “An American Girl’s guide to Looking like a Tourist” “An American’s Guide to a British Supermarket’ “An Ode to […]


3 years ago

This was so clever and witty! Love it!


3 years ago

A very witty post, love it! xx

Yana Weinstein (@doctorwhy)

3 years ago

This is pretty funny!


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