8 ways to travel without looking like a tourist

8 ways to travel without looking like a tourist

One popular piece of travel advice is to try and blend in overseas, and avoid looking like an obvious tourist. Not only can this help you appreciate the cultures of the places you visit, but it may also help you avoid some of the problems that some tourists experience while travelling.

Take care with cash

Flashing fat stacks of cash is one way to attract attention to yourself, which may not be ideal if you’re trying to blend in. Even if you’re not makin’ it rain, taking your time counting your change in public can mark you as a confused tourist. 

Consider getting your hands on the appropriate local currency before leaving for your destination, and familiarise yourself with the different denominations before you arrive to avoid confusion. Plus, organising your cash in advance may help you avoid paying too many fees from international ATMs, or coming off second-best when making a currency exchange.

When in doubt, consider using a credit card or travel money card where possible. As well as letting you avoid cash misunderstandings, most credit cards include security safeguards against fraud, and keep a digital record of your purchases to help resolve any disputes.

Be discreet

Dangling a high-end camera around your neck, snapping instagrams with a selfie stick, or standing in the street scrolling through map directions on your phone can all indicate to onlookers that you’re probably not from around here.

While there’s nothing wrong with using your equipment to record and navigate through your adventures, consider your surroundings when using your electronics, and try to stay out of the way of fellow travellers, and especially locals.

Beware of scams

Major travel destinations attract tourists, which in turn often attract scammers, looking to take advantage of said tourists. The exact methods can vary, but generally, if something sounds too good to be true, it very well might be.

Consulting travel safety websites such as the Australian Government’s Smart Traveller can help you get a better idea of what to watch out for in different areas. Keep this information in mind to help you minimise your risk of being targeted. 

Learn (some of) the language

Learning a whole new language can be a significant commitment, requiring years of practice. If achieving language fluency in time for your next trip isn’t a realistic option, learning just enough to be polite can sometimes be the next best thing – after all, politeness costs nothing.

A few simple words, like hello and goodbye, please and thank you, and assorted apologies (especially “I’m sorry, I don’t speak your language”) can make a big difference to the first impressions you create. Even if some miming and charades is required to get the rest of your point across, the initial effort is often appreciated.

See some alternative sights

Seeing the wonders of the world is all well and good, but it’s important to remember that exclusively visiting internationally-renowned landmarks often means exclusively rubbing shoulders with people doing exactly the same thing.

Getting away from the well-travelled areas can help give you a broader perspective on your destination, rather than ticking boxes off a travel checklist (“Been there. Done that. Took a picture. Next!”).

Buy local

Souvenir shops can add a bit of kitsch to your wardrobe, though their wares often clearly mark you as a tourist (HINT: New Yorkers don’t wear those “I Heart NY” shirts). Plus, some shops selling overseas-manufactured souvenirs to tourists end up taking money out of the local economy.

Shopping where the locals go is one way to experience the local culture, support local businesses and industries, and pick up some unique mementoes of your trip. Similarly, staying in local accommodation rather than an international hotel chain can provide a very different travel experience.

Haggle carefully

Haggling can be a delicate subject, depending on where you are and what you’re buying. Taking the first price offered can make you appear clueless, while negotiating too aggressively can be obnoxious.

Remember that shopping doesn’t need to be an extreme sport – haggle if it’s expected, but don’t feel obliged to squeeze every last drop of value from each sale. Also, in some countries it’s considered rude to walk away without buying something once the negotiations have commenced, so only ask for a price if you’re prepared to buy.

Be respectful

We’ve all heard the legend of the Obnoxious Tourist. Loud of shirt and loud of voice, they roam from country to country, complaining about how different things are from back home. Afterwards, they may be seen getting aggressively drunk and embarrassing themselves.  

Don’t be the Obnoxious Tourist. Be mindful that any destination you visit is someone’s home, where you are a guest. You can have a good time travelling without ruining the experience (or the destination) for those around you.

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Learn more about credit cards

How to get money from a credit card

You can get money from a credit card, but generally it will cost you.

Withdrawing money from a credit card is called a cash advance, as it operates more as a loan than a simple cash withdrawal. Because it is a loan, you may be charged interest on your cash advance as soon as you make the withdrawal. Interest rates are also usually much higher for cash advances than standard credit card purchases.

In addition to the interest rate, you may also be charged a cash advance fee. This could be a flat rate, or a percentage of your total cash advance. If you are considering a cash advance, make sure to add up how much it will cost you before committing.

How do you use credit cards?

A credit card can be an easy way to make purchases online, in person or over the phone. When used properly, a credit card can even help you manage your cash flow. But before applying for a credit card, it’s good to know how they work. A credit card is essentially a personal line of credit which lets you buy things and pay for them later. As a card holder, you’ll be given a credit limit and (potentially) charged interest on the money the bank lends you. At the end of each billing period, the bank will send you a statement which shows your outstanding balance and the minimum amount you need to pay back. If you don’t pay back the full balance amount, the bank will begin charging you interest.

Where can I get a credit card?

Looking to get your first credit card? You might be confused as to exactly where to go to apply for one. Here’s where to go when you are ready to put in that application.

The bank: Your bank is a great place to start, provided that you have a good banking history. Since you already have a financial history, you have more chance of your application being approved.

Credit card provider: Another option is to apply for a credit card directly from the issuer, such as Visa, Mastercard or Amex. This will most likely be an online application, so do your research and apply for a suitable card for your circumstances.

Major retailers: Coles, Woolworths, Myer and David Jones all have credit cards available. But watch out for the interest rate and annual fees – these cards are designed to help you spend more in store.

How to get cash with just a credit card number

Banks and merchants usually will not allow you to access cash without a physical card, because doing so would open up opportunities for fraudulent activities. Even most non-cash credit card transactions (such as shopping online) require you to know the expiry date and CVV on your credit card in addition to the card number.

However, some banks offer cardless cash for transaction accounts. Using a secure app installed on your mobile phone, you can log onto an ATM and withdraw the money you need. This could be a practical and secure solution if you don’t have a card and need cash.

How long does it take to get a credit card?

There are a few stages you need to go through to get a credit card; each one takes a different length of time.

Applying for the card online, over the phone or in person is the fastest step. This usually takes around 15 minutes, provided you have all of your documents handy.

After submitting your application, it usually takes between one to 10 business days for the lender to assess your eligibility. Some lenders offer instant approval, although you will need to send supporting documents before it is official.

Once your application has been approved, expect to wait between one to 14 days to receive your card in the mail. Keep in mind that delays can happen during busy periods, such as if the lender has launched a special deal.

What's the best credit card for rewards?

There is no one-size-fits-all best rewards credit card. It's best you research what type of rewards program you'd like, as well as the fees, interest rate and conditions associated with those types of cards before making a choice. 

Rewards credit cards can also come with high annual fees that may end up nullifying the rewards, so think how often you use the card to decide whether the benefits outweigh the extra cost for you. A card with a lower annual fee might require a lot of spending to get any useful rewards, while another card with a higher annual fee might need fewer purchases to get a reward. 

How do you cancel a credit card?

It’s important to cancel your old cards to avoid any additional fees. Unless you’re doing a balance transfer, you’ll need to pay the outstanding balance before you cancel your credit card. If you’ve opted for a card with reward points, make sure you redeem or transfer the points before you close your account. To avoid any bounced payments and save yourself an admin headache, redirect all your direct debits to a new card or account. Once you’ve done all the preparation, call your bank or credit card provider to get the cancellation underway. Once you receive a confirmation letter, destroy your card and make sure the numbers aren’t legible.

Can we pay stamp duty by credit card?

Different states also have different rules about whether you can pay stamp duty with a credit card. Check the payment options for stamp duty on your local state revenue office website.

Some allow payments only from a savings or chequing account, whereas others allow payment through BPAY using your credit card. Also read the fine print to see if BPAY payments on your credit card are considered cash advances, as this could attract a higher interest rate.

How do you use a credit card?

Credit cards are a quick and convenient way to pay for items in store, online or over the phone. You can use a credit card as a cashless way to pay for goods or services, both locally and overseas. You can also use a credit card to make a cash advance, which gives you the flexibility to withdraw cash from your credit card account. Because a credit card uses the bank’s funds instead of your own, you will be charged interest on the money you spend – unless you pay off the entire debt within the interest-free period. If you pay the minimum monthly repayment, you will be charged interest. There are many different credit card options on the market, all offering different interest rates and reward options.

What is a credit card?

A credit card is a payment method which lets you pay for goods and services without using your own money. It’s essentially a short-term loan which lets you borrow the bank’s money to pay for things which you can pay back – potentially with interest – at a later date. Credit cards can also be used to withdraw money from an ATM, which is known as a cash advance. Because you’re borrowing money from a bank, credit cards charge you interest on the money you use (unless you repay the entire debt during the interest-free period). When you apply for a credit card, the bank gives you a credit limit which sets the maximum amount you can borrow using your card. Credit cards are one of the most popular methods of payments and can be a convenient way of paying for goods and services in store, online and all around the globe.

How do you pay off credit cards?

The best way to pay off a credit card bill is to set a realistic spending budget and stick to it. Each month, you’ll get a credit card statement detailing how much you owe and how long it will take to pay off the balance by making minimum repayments. If you only make the minimum repayments, it will take you years to pay off your outstanding balance and add extra costs in interest charges. To avoid any extra charges, you should pay the entire bill. 

How to get a new credit card

To get a new credit card, generally you need to be at least 18 years old and have a good credit rating. You don’t need to be an Australian citizen. Usually you can apply online or in person at a branch of the card issuer. You’ll typically have to supply information like:

  • Your income and living costs (e.g. rent/mortgage, loan repayments, living expenses)
  • Your employer’s contact details
  • Details of your assets and any debts you are paying off

Why do different credit reporting bureaus use different scores?

The reason Equifax, Experian and Illion use different scores is because they are independent companies with their own different methodologies. As a result, a score of, say, 700 would mean different things at different credit reporting bureaus.

However, the one thing they have in common is that they divide their scores into five tiers. So if you receive a tier-two credit score from one bureau, you will probably receive a tier-two score from the others, as well.

How to get a free credit card

There's no such thing as a free lunch. All credit cards come with associated costs when used to make purchases, even if it’s simply the cost of making repayments.

However, many lenders offer incentives for customers such as a $0 annual fee or 0 per cent interest on purchases during an introductory period. Additionally, paying off your balance in full during an interest-free period means you could only have to pay back the cost of purchases without interest. You could also be eligible for additional rewards such as cashback during that time, saving you more money.