Jim and I have written previous posts on how to blend in with locals when traveling, and why it’s important. One of the easiest ways I try to avoid sticking out like a tourist is to disguise my guidebooks and maps.
Guidebooks often have distinctive color pallets and designs that make them (and me when I use them) stick out like a sore thumb. In places that have a lot of tourists, all sorts of people — from crooks to sidewalk vendors — learn to recognize these books and the attention can be… unwanted.
Luckily a simple piece of paper wrapped around the book like a jacket easily and immediately hides the touristy nature of what I’m holding. Jim and I used this technique for our Eastern Europe guidebook during our recent trip to Budapest, Krakow, and Bavaria.
I also used this trick during my recent San Francisco overnight for work. During my layover I went for a walk with a free hotel map in hand to see the famous Painted Ladies. But first, I stopped by a nearby CVS to get my flu shot. They gave me some papers regarding the vaccine that were the perfect size to act as a jacket to my map.
So as I hiked around the city, I just looked like another local holding a stack of papers running errands on my lunch break. But whenever I needed to navigate, I simply stepped out of the main foot traffic and peaked at my map while apparently window shopping or waiting for a red light.
— Laura Rowley