If you browse this topic online, you’ll find plenty of articles on the subject. You will also often find that most of the articles have numerous comments, 90% of which are telling the author how wrong they are or suggesting they travel at least once before offering travel advise. At the risk of irking our readers, we will offer our suggestions on what not to wear.
This one should be common sense yet many people wear expensive jewelry while on vacation. While enjoying their time off, many people will let their guard down and even take risks they would never consider at home. In your hometown, you probably know the areas to stay out of. That may not be the case while traveling. Too often we hear stories of travelers getting lost and ending up in a gang controlled area, with tragic results.
Walk into a risky area with expensive jewelry and you will be robbed. Even in “safe” tourist areas, criminals will target tourists. because tourists are a relatively safe target. Frequently, victims don’t immediately report the crime; either being too upset or not knowing where to properly report the crime. The tourist, especially the cruise passenger, will also consider the time they will lose making the report. Additionally, crimes against tourists have a low prosecution rate because few tourists want to incur the expense of traveling back to the location of the crime to testify.
The Fighting Irish & Advertising Your Nationality
Before any University of Notre Dame alumni shut us down, we would like to point out that this recommendation is directly from the Risk and Safety Department of the University. They state that students and facility traveling internationally should not wear any clothing with a print of the Fighting Irish logo or the written name. While there is no explanation on their checklist, a Fighting Irish t-shirt does hit on a number of different “don’t wear” lists. The University of Notre Dame is one of the top colleges in the United States and while it has students from over 100 countries it is recognized world-wide as a U.S. institution.
While traveling internationally, it is best to avoid ANY clothing that identifies you by your nationality. A common explanation for ignoring this advice is “I’m an American, proud of it and don’t care who knows.” While this is an admirable position, it also identifies you to those who target Americans. It might be for political reasons, or simply as an individual of wealth (as is a common view of Americans).
There are other items unrelated to the Fighting Irish that should be avoided on clothing. Political messages as well as anything that promotes illegal drugs should always be avoided. The laws against drugs are especially strict in some countries and wearing a t-shirt promoting the legalization of marijuana could get you turned back at some borders and arrested at others. The same goes for items that are sexually orientated. Obscenity laws differ, what might be considered poor taste in the U.S. could be considered obscene in other countries. Remember in some countries, being homosexual is still a criminal offense.
In the U.S. our freedom of expression is mostly protected. Some individuals express themselves wearing swastikas. In Germany, however, you will be arrested for doing so and you might even serve time; they have zero tolerance for this. In other countries, you might not be arrested for wearing a swastika but you will open yourself up for attacks.
Keep Beach Wear On The Beach
Before departing on your vacation, get a feel for what level of decency is accepted by the locals. A bikini that is modest in Brazil will get you arrested in Indonesia (wearing military style camouflage pants will also get you arrested in Indonesia). Even in resort areas, many locals frown upon beach wear away from the beaches. In Thailand last year, we saw a Russian girl walking up the sidewalk wearing a mid drift t-shirt over a string thong bikini. While at the beach it might have been accepted, she was arrested, handcuffed, and taken away by the local authorities.
While American’s will wear shorts anywhere, few other countries follow that example. Even where shorts are accepted, men should always wear shirts while away from the beach. In parts of Asia and Europe you will be denied entrance to places of worship if wearing shorts or shirts that have bare shoulders. This is a common enough problem that The Grand Palace in Bangkok has a clothing lending facility to get tourists properly dressed. The best advice is to consider what you feel comfortable wearing at home and adjust for the local customs. It is always best to err on the side of caution and dress conservative.