As I briefly touched on in yesterday’s post, your physical appearance is important, but so is your physical demeanor. And while it’s a good start to not wear jewelery, dress simply and follow a few simple rules about blending in, your demeanor also plays an important part in your ability to meld and adapt, not to mention take you off the radar of anyone looking to prey on tourists.
Your physical demeanor is the way your outward attitude joins with your appearance. It’s your body language combined with your dress, your mental state of being and your entire person. If you are nervous and worried you are going to be walking like it, continually looking over your shoulder, checking your watch, fiddling with your cell phone constantly and so on in so forth. If you are relaxed and comfortable you take your time, you window shop, you stop and say hi to a couple of people at some of the shops, you browse leisurely and you exude confidence and a sense of belonging to this area of the city. Confidence that no one will ever disturb because you are blending in like a local.
Yes, it does take a little bit of time to master, but there are a few things you can do the moment you touch down to avoid being branded tourist and thus target. First of all, research the type of clothing the people in that area are wearing and pay attention to the weather. Show up in an outfit that matches what the locals are wearing. Be relaxed. Casual. Act like you fit in. Don’t stare at buildings because you haven’t seen that type of architecture before. Don’t take your camera out. Blend in. You’ve been here a dozen times before, you know the lay of the land, the landscapes. You are part of this city. Your walk is that of a casual veteran of the sidewalks.
Here’s the thing: you are a foreigner in X country. The vast majority of countries around the world love foreigners because you bring in money. This is especially true of developing countries. They want you in their country because you bring a salary that far outweighs what most of the locals are making. Everyone loves money. Which also means you have a cushion of protection for the little things because you are granted automatic preference above the locals simply by being a foreigner. That means you can assume a certain level of safety. Which means you can feel comfortable. Which you should let carry into your stance, your gait, your stride, your entire body.
Demeanor is about being confidant. If you are a law-abiding individual who is living like a local in a foreign destination you have absolutely nothing to be afraid of, and this should carry into your attitude. You are just another person, living your life as anyone else would. You have nothing to fear. And when you can portray this in your stance, in your walk and in the way you portray yourself to those around you, you will stop being the nail that sticks up and instead you become just like everyone else…at least on the outside. Fly under the radar and you will find life to be no different than anywhere else.