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How not to look like a tourist

Written by 1 August 2009 2 Comments

Dear travelettes,

I’d like to address a very serious issue. So serious, in fact, that it could decide over whether or not you have your wallet stolen, pay double for a cute new blouse or even become abducted and shot in the head. Ladies. I am not being dramatic, just realistic. I am talking about the immense disadvantages–no, risks!–that come with dressing like a regular tourist.


I was going to write down a long list of do’s and don’ts regarding tourist fashion, but instead I thought I’d just present you with a few looks that are great to wear on your backpacking trip because they are practical and make you look like the cosmopolitan lady you are.


While I would normally classify a shorts-and-shirt combo under “super-touristy”, this girl has got it right. She’s 100% in the comfort zone yet looking classy. Notable: shorts that are easily combined with various other shirts, light colors, flats to walk around in all day (even a travelette can’t walk in heels all day).


The perfect camouflage outfit. When traveling through smaller cities it’s important not to wear bold colors or anything that will attract even more attention than you’re likely to get anyway simply by being a foreigner. Grey is oddly summery, matches almost everything and is pretty right on this season.


Ah, the traveling pants. I would be lying if I said I hadn’t gotten a pair of these. After spending much of my adult life wearing only skirts and dresses, I cannot deny the advantages of a comfy pair of drop-crotch pants. The challenge here is to find a pair that don’t make you look fat. The girl in the picture has got it right though. The bow-tie is possibly a little daring for a place like India, but in a city like Mumbai or Delhi, I’d definitely try it out–just to test the reactions!


When traveling, I love dresses. They’re as good as it gets: not too tight, not too short but somewhere in between where it’s both sophisticated, casual and very practical (yay for one-pieces!). In big cities, jazz it up with a cute belt or heels; on the road, wear it loose and with sandals.

I could write a whole book on the secrets of being a non-touristy tourist, and if you keep tuning in, you’ll find out more and more as we go along. During our trip to india, caroline and I will do our best to keep you posted with the best outfits from other travelettes we meet along the way (as well as some of our own).

Happy travels!


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  • iris said:

    i’d like to know what you’re really wearing over there. the pictures above are from european cites where the heat is not comparable to indian cities. and actually you don’t really see woman wearing short pants in india. well, i didn’t. did you already spot some women travellers who didn’t look like backbackers? i’d really like to know.

  • Katja (author) said:

    dear iris

    i admit we have been pretty bad at photographing our outfits but i can assure you we have been doing our best to keep it travelettes and not give into harem pants and hippie-scarfs.

    if you check the ‘cool ones’ section you will find a few looks we came across on the road and much approve of.

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