It becomes pretty apparent pretty quickly who is a tourist and who is a traveller. Here’s a guide to the obvious traveller wear in case you want to fit in or avoid and make your own path…

  1. Worn out beer tank tops (men) – probably because you can buy them all over Thailand and Cambodia and new beer logos seem cool, this is possibly your first choice purchase on your first step of travel-chic. You can also get worn-effect Starbucks tank tops for an ironic twist.
  2. Multiple bracelets – these are cheap and you can buy them everywhere too. People buy them as a memory for each place they’ve visited but they are most likely all produced in the same factory. For something more authentic visit a temple and make a donation for a spiritual bracelet.
  3. Elephant t-shirts, (anything elephant actually) – maybe because the Buddhist religion is prevalent all over Asia, clothes, bags, t-shirts and pants covered in elephant sketches are available everywhere.
  4. Messy bun (girls) – maybe it’s a between-wash day but these messy buns seem very well constructed to look like no effort has gone into them. It is kinda hot across Asia so fair enough.
  5. Over-sized t-shirt and patterned harem pants (girls) – along with the messy bun is the baggy t-shirt and patterned harem pants look. It is a look that crosses pyjamas with borrowing your boyfriend’s clothes. Interesting.
  6. Sak Yant tattoos – this is considered a bit of a “must” travel thing to do, to find and acquire a bamboo tattoo, given by an actual monk in a spiritual-esk ceremony. However, the truth is that a lot of the places that give these Tattoos are not particularly spiritual and are often not conducted by a monk. It is a tourist trap. Still hordes of people come over and get Sak Yant ink, the effects are intricate and the designs interesting but bear in mind you don’t always get a choice in what design you have.
  7. Religious or mythological iconography Tattoos – because of the heavy Buddhist and Hindu influences across Asia you can easily pick a pretty design that denotes a spiritual meaning you like. Really popular ones are Ganesh, lotuses, dragons, Buddha and mandalas.
  8. Quoting “same same but different ” – it is quite ironic that a saying across Asia that baffles travellers when they receive something that is the opposite of what they ordered has now become a saying in its own right between travellers. Originally used to laugh about cultural misunderstandings, you will eventually use it as a term of understanding. It will prove you have passed the threshold of getting stressed out about the randomness of travel. In the same way, you will just start to eat what you are given without questioning.
  9. Travel as a “spiritual journey” conversation – for some people travel is a way to perpetuate the concept that travel is some sort of life-changing, spiritual revelation. In fact, travelling is just being somewhere else for a while and seeing how it’s different, it doesn’t make you any more different as a person, it just shows you the way different people live. For an experienced traveller, you will find it borderline nauseating to hear this repetitive conversation of people finding themselves but each to their own.
  10. A hangover – travel is fun and as such many travellers (normally from the category above) will be in two states, drunk or hungover. If you are a more normal traveller at some point the weird food, strange places, and constant unknown does result in a major blowout so you will have a hangover or four during your travels. It’s difficult to avoid this, even if you are desperate to not be an obvious traveller.

So whether trying to be a typical traveller, avoiding it completely or just not caring and doing your own thing. You can use the above as a checklist or a spot-the-traveller guide.


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