Traveling incognito? What not to wear
Keeping your identity secure and unrecognizable boils down to keeping modest and blending in where you can; the more you stick out from the crowd, the better the chance of someone recognizing you. Unless you’ve spent years in an area, chances are you’re not going to blend in with the local population. Everything from the way you walk to the way you wear your clothes will likely contrast with the background. To remain incognito at a glance, follow our tips to keep yourself as one of the masses and get the most out of your trip.
First, avoid displaying expensive jewelry, electronics, and high-end brand names whenever possible, especially while traveling in between destinations. At best, you might be accosted by beggars and street merchants who will give you extra unwanted attention. At worst, organized crime members may realize your value and target you for pickpocketing, muggings, and kidnappings. Criminals are especially keen at identifying these wealth indicators, so it best to favor function over form while in transit. While you’re adjusting your wardrobe, avoid wearing clothes that make it easy to determine your native country. A prominently displayed flag can ruin all the efforts of hiding your identity and attract more unwanted attention.
If you want to travel without being targeted, the best option is to accept your status as a tourist and blend in with other tourists. Even if you speak the local language, local dialects will differ wildly; just like anyone can distinguish a Texan from a New Yorker, you will be immediately outed as a tourist once you have to communicate. Donning a simple hat and large, unassuming sunglasses will do more to keep your identity secure than anything else. If you have any recognizable tattoos or other markings, it’s a good idea to keep them covered or concealed in a non-obvious way.
As a final note, be aware of local customs and adhere to similar dress standards if you can. Wearing baggy beach trunks on a beach in Spain is as noticeable as wearing revealing clothing and avoiding the hijab in many middle eastern countries. The saying “when in Rome” is always applicable and your goal with being incognito is not to ever give anyone a reason to take a second glance.