How not to look like an American

I’m going to be traveling to Mexico City for a four day trip next weekend, and have been reading up on safety and security precautions I need to be taking. Many sources insist that I should “try not to look like an American.” Easily said, but exactly how does one go about looking less American? Serious and humorous advice both welcome.

Don’t wear sneakers - go for loafers or leather sandals.

Don’t wear blue jeans - go for light-colored “slacks” or “khakis”

No tee-shirts or polos - wear collared shirts. (And NO Hawaiian designs! . . . well, maybe in Mexico, my experience here is all from European travel.)

  • diet :slight_smile:
  • speak Spanish :cool:
  • don’t read a guidebook in public (not so much ‘American’ as ‘tourist’)
  • don’t count money in public (not so much ‘American’ as ‘tourist’)
  • speak softly
  • don’t mention the Alamo :eek:

I’ll have to remember that one.

  • speak French and use “eh?” a lot in your English, so people will assume you’re Canadian.

Unless you can look and act Mexican, I don’t really see the point in not “looking American” there. I had not heard that Americans are a particular target. And most likely the only Mexican you could even come close to looking and acting like would be relatively wealthy ones, who also might be crime targets.

Just stay around others that are there for tourism or business, whichever you’re doing, don’t wander around places you don’t know alone. You should be just fine.

Another tip for not standing out as an American: avoid talking loudly in public places. Seriously, if you’re by yourself somewhere that has American tourists, just sit quietly and listen. I’ll bet you can pick out many other Americans, no problemo, regardless of how they’re dressed.

Americans are really easy to spot. They come in two types- the old rich type and the young rich type (backpackers)

The old rich type wears white sneakers and shorts. Nobody else in the world considers shorts to be reasonable clothing for an adult male. And nobody wears white shoes. Logo tee shirts and baseball hats are other popular favorites. Female old rich types wear frumpy expensive “travel clothes.” They like to go overboard on the khaki- especially khaki capri pants (worn, of course, with white sneakers.)

Young Americans can be spotted because they aren’t dressed like European youngster. For whatever reason, young European travelers dress like nuts- silver miniskirts over raver pants,. Huge dreads. Belly shirts in modest countries. Local clothes worn the wrong way that look like they came from a costume party.

I think it’s a phase they have to go to before they become the slacks-and-button-up-shirt wearing adult European traveler. By contrast, American young travelers usually dress pretty reasonably.

How to Avoid Looking Like an American Tourist

So for the younger folks, the best way to blend in is to look as glam-trash as possible?

It’s more to do with backpacking having a different image back home in Europe vs. America, therefore attracting different segments of the teenage population - in Europe it’s got the image of a soft-drug-filled ‘find yourself’ faux-hippy experience, perhaps not so in America.

Wear a sombraro, poncho and a bandolear with a pair of pistoleros
Grow a moustache
Get yourself a tan
Try not to be 6 inches taller and 40 lbs heavier than everyone else
Respond to every question with “si” or “que”
Try to kidnap someone

What if they tell everyone he’s an American?