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What Does A Tacky Tourist Look Like


Modified: December 28, 2023

by Eunice Loggins



When we travel to new destinations, we often want to blend in with the local culture, experience authentic adventures, and create lasting memories. However, there are times when some travelers inadvertently cross the line into being labeled as a “tacky tourist.” But what exactly does that mean? In this article, we will delve into the world of tacky tourists, exploring their clothing choices, behaviors, souvenirs, and even their photography habits.


A tacky tourist is someone who stands out for all the wrong reasons while visiting a new place. They may unknowingly commit cultural faux pas, wear inappropriate attire, or engage in behavior that comes across as disrespectful or ignorant. Tacky tourists often demonstrate a lack of cultural sensitivity and fail to consider how their actions impact the local community.


It’s important to note that this article is not meant to shame or mock tourists, but rather to provide insight into what behaviors and choices are considered tacky and how they can be avoided. By understanding what constitutes tackiness, we can strive to be more respectful and mindful travelers during our journeys.


Definition of a Tacky Tourist

A tacky tourist is characterized by their lack of awareness and consideration for the local culture and customs of the destination they are visiting. They may engage in behaviors, wear clothing, or purchase souvenirs that are considered garish, inappropriate, or culturally insensitive. While being a tacky tourist is often unintentional, it is important to educate ourselves and strive to be respectful travelers.


One common aspect of a tacky tourist is their choice in clothing. Dressing inappropriately for the cultural norms of the destination can be seen as disrespectful. For example, wearing revealing clothing in conservative countries or dressing too casually in formal settings can be considered tacky. It’s important to research the local dress code and make an effort to dress appropriately, showing respect for the local customs and traditions.


Another characteristic of tacky tourists is their behavior. This can include being loud and disruptive in public spaces, disregarding local rules, and failing to understand social cues. Tacky tourists may also lack awareness of personal space, invade private areas, or act entitled. It is crucial to demonstrate respect for local customs, maintain appropriate behavior, and be mindful of the impact our actions have on the local community.


Tacky tourists also tend to purchase souvenirs and trinkets that are considered gaudy, cheap, or culturally insensitive. These can include items with offensive slogans or caricatures, mass-produced and low-quality goods, or culturally significant items that are taken out of context. It’s important to be mindful of the souvenirs we bring back home, ensuring they are respectful, locally made, and support the local economy.


Overall, being a tacky tourist is about a lack of cultural awareness and sensitivity. It’s important to remember that we are guests in the places we visit and have a responsibility to honor and respect the local culture and customs.


Dressing Like a Tacky Tourist

One of the most noticeable characteristics of a tacky tourist is their inappropriate or ill-fitting attire. Dressing inappropriately can not only make you stand out but also show a lack of respect for the local culture and customs. Here are some examples of dressing like a tacky tourist:

  • Wearing revealing clothing in conservative countries: It’s essential to dress modestly and respect the local customs in destinations where conservative dress is the norm. This means covering your shoulders, chest, and knees.
  • Dressing too casually in formal settings: Some tourist attractions, religious sites, and fine dining establishments have dress codes. Wearing flip-flops, shorts, or tank tops in these places can be seen as disrespectful.
  • Wearing culturally inappropriate attire: Avoid wearing clothing that appropriates or mocks the local culture. Dressing up as a caricature of a certain culture or wearing sacred symbols as fashion statements can be offensive.
  • Overpacking and being unprepared for the weather: Carrying excessive luggage or not being prepared for the local climate can give the impression of being disorganized and clueless.

To avoid dressing like a tacky tourist, research the local dress code and pack accordingly. It’s always a good idea to bring a mix of versatile and respectful clothing that suits the activities and customs of your destination. When in doubt, opt for modest and respectful attire that allows you to blend in with the locals.


Remember, dressing appropriately not only shows respect for the local culture but also allows you to feel more comfortable and confident during your travels. By making a conscious effort to dress appropriately, you can avoid standing out for all the wrong reasons and have a more immersive and respectful travel experience.


Behaviors of a Tacky Tourist

In addition to inappropriate attire, tacky tourists often exhibit certain behaviors that can be seen as disrespectful or ignorant. It’s essential to be mindful of our actions and their impact on the local community. Here are some behaviors to avoid:

  • Being loud and disruptive: Tacky tourists often stand out by being excessively loud and disruptive in public spaces. This can include shouting, playing loud music, or being rowdy in crowded areas. It’s important to be considerate of others and maintain an appropriate noise level.
  • Disregarding local rules and customs: Tacky tourists may not bother to learn about or follow local rules and customs. This can include ignoring traffic regulations, smoking in non-designated areas, or behaving inappropriately in sacred sites. Take the time to educate yourself about the destination’s customs to ensure you act respectfully.
  • Invading personal space: Tacky tourists often lack awareness of personal space and boundaries. They may stand too close to others, take up excessive space, or touch objects without permission. Respecting personal space is crucial in maintaining a positive interaction with locals and fellow travelers.
  • Acting entitled and demanding: Some tacky tourists expect special treatment or show an entitlement mentality. They may demand discounts, complain excessively, or exhibit an air of superiority. Remember that you are a guest in the destination and treat everyone with kindness and respect.

It’s important to blend in and adapt to the local culture as much as possible. Observing local customs, such as greeting others appropriately, saying “please” and “thank you” in the local language, and respecting local traditions, can go a long way in showing your appreciation for the destination.


Being a mindful traveler means being aware of how our actions are perceived by others. By adopting respectful behavior, we not only have more positive interactions with the local community but also contribute to a more harmonious travel experience for everyone.


Tacky Souvenirs and Trinkets

Part of the travel experience often involves bringing back souvenirs and trinkets as a memento of your trip. However, it’s important to be mindful of the souvenirs we choose and the impact they have on the local culture and community. Tacky tourists often gravitate towards souvenirs that are considered gaudy, culturally insensitive, or of low quality.


Here are some examples of tacky souvenirs and trinkets to avoid:

  • Mass-produced items: Tacky tourists often purchase mass-produced souvenirs that lack uniqueness and are found in every tourist shop. These items are often of low quality and can contribute to the exploitation of local artisans.
  • Culturally inappropriate items: Avoid purchasing souvenirs that appropriate or misrepresent the local culture. This can include items like caricatures or offensive depictions of cultural symbols.
  • Cheap and disposable trinkets: Tacky tourists sometimes opt for cheap and disposable trinkets that have little value beyond the immediate gratification. These items often end up in landfills and do not support the local economy.
  • Taking culturally significant items out of context: It’s important to respect the cultural significance of certain items. Taking artifacts or sacred objects out of their intended context and using them as decorative pieces can be seen as disrespectful.

Instead of purchasing tacky souvenirs, consider supporting local artisans and businesses. Look for handmade, locally crafted items that showcase the unique culture and traditions of the destination. These items not only have greater value and authenticity, but they also support the local economy and preserve traditional craftsmanship.


Remember, the souvenirs we bring back should be meaningful and respectful representations of our travels. By choosing thoughtfully and supporting local artisans, we can ensure that our souvenirs have a positive impact on the local community and preserve the cultural heritage of the destination.


Tacky Tourist Photography

Photography plays a significant role in documenting our travel experiences and capturing precious memories. However, it’s important to be mindful of our photography habits as some behaviors can be seen as tacky and disrespectful. Being aware of how we photograph can help us maintain a respectful and considerate approach towards both the local culture and the people we encounter.


Here are some examples of tacky tourist photography behaviors to avoid:

  • Disrupting the flow of traffic for the perfect shot: Blocking pathways, streets, or entranceways while trying to capture a photo can cause inconvenience for both locals and fellow tourists. It’s important to be mindful of the space and considerate of others when taking pictures.
  • Taking photos without permission: It’s crucial to respect people’s privacy and seek consent before taking their photos, especially in culturally sensitive areas or when photographing individuals. Always ask for permission or be discreet when capturing moments involving people.
  • Showcasing inappropriate behavior or disrespect: Posting photos of yourself engaging in disrespectful behavior or posing inappropriately at sacred sites can be seen as highly offensive. Avoid capturing images that mock or disrespect the local culture or customs.
  • Overdoing selfie culture: While taking selfies is a popular trend, excessively taking selfies in every location, without taking the time to truly appreciate the surroundings, can be seen as self-centered and oblivious to the destination’s significance.

When photographing, it’s important to be present and fully engage with the destination. Take the time to understand the significance of the place you are capturing and show respect for the local culture and customs. Always remember that the people, traditions, and landscapes you photograph are not just props, but part of a living community.


By being mindful and considerate photographers, we can capture meaningful and respectful images that commemorate our travel experiences without causing harm or offense to the local community.


Impact on Local Communities

The actions of tacky tourists can have a significant impact on the local communities they visit. It’s important to be aware of the potential consequences of our behaviors and choices as travelers. Here are some ways in which tacky tourism can negatively impact local communities:

  • Cultural disrespect and degradation: Tacky tourists who disregard local customs and engage in disrespectful behaviors contribute to the degradation of the local culture. This can lead to a loss of traditional values, as well as a decline in cultural heritage and authenticity.
  • Exploitation of local resources: Tacky tourists who purchase cheap, mass-produced souvenirs often unknowingly contribute to the exploitation of local resources and artisans. This undermines local economies and takes away opportunities from skilled craftsmen and women.
  • Environmental damage: Tacky tourist behaviors, such as littering or engaging in unsustainable activities, can have a detrimental impact on the environment. Excessive tourism can lead to increased pollution, deforestation, and destruction of natural habitats.
  • Strain on local infrastructure and resources: The influx of tacky tourists can place an excessive burden on local infrastructure, including transportation, accommodations, and essential services. This can lead to overcrowding, increased waste production, and unsustainable strain on limited resources.
  • Social and economic inequality: Tacky tourists who exploit local communities for cheap prices and fail to support local businesses perpetuate social and economic inequality. This can create a divide between locals and tourists, leading to resentment and conflict.

As responsible travelers, it is our duty to minimize the negative impact on local communities. By being culturally sensitive, supporting local economies, and practicing sustainable tourism, we can contribute to the preservation of cultural heritage, the protection of the environment, and the overall well-being of the destinations we visit.


Ultimately, by embracing respectful and mindful travel practices, we can foster positive relationships with local communities, preserve their unique traditions, and help to create a more sustainable and inclusive tourism industry.


Tips to Avoid Being a Tacky Tourist

Being a respectful traveler is essential to ensure a positive and meaningful experience for both yourself and the local communities you visit. Here are some valuable tips to help you avoid being labeled as a tacky tourist:

  • Research and respect local customs: Take the time to learn about the local culture, customs, and etiquette before you travel. Understanding and respecting these traditions will help you blend in and show appreciation for the destination.
  • Dress appropriately: Pack clothes that are suitable for the local climate, as well as respectful of cultural norms. Dress modestly when visiting places of worship or conservative areas, and follow any dress code guidelines for formal settings.
  • Be mindful of your behavior: Be aware of your surroundings and abide by local rules and regulations. Avoid loud and disruptive behavior, respect personal space, and be considerate of others, whether you’re in public spaces or interacting with locals.
  • Support local businesses: Instead of purchasing mass-produced souvenirs, seek out locally made products that support the local economy and reflect the authentic culture of the destination. Connect with local artisans and shop at markets and independent stores.
  • Ask for permission before taking photos: Always ask for consent before photographing individuals, especially in culturally sensitive locations. Respect the privacy of others and avoid capturing images that may be seen as disrespectful or intrusive.
  • Practice sustainable tourism: Minimize your environmental impact by practicing responsible travel habits. Reduce waste, conserve resources, and support eco-friendly initiatives. Choose responsible and ethical tour operators that prioritize sustainability.
  • Engage with the local community: Immerse yourself in the local culture and interact with the community. Learn a few basic phrases in the local language, engage in respectful conversations, and be open to new experiences and perspectives.

By implementing these tips, you can ensure that your travels are respectful, meaningful, and leave a positive impact on the places you visit. Remember, being a thoughtful and considerate traveler not only enriches your own journey but also contributes to the preservation and appreciation of the local culture and communities.



Being labeled as a tacky tourist is something that we all want to avoid when we travel. It’s essential to strive for mindful and respectful travel practices to ensure a positive experience for ourselves and the local communities we visit.


In this article, we have examined the characteristics of a tacky tourist, including their inappropriate attire, disruptive behaviors, choice of gaudy souvenirs, and disrespectful photography habits. We have explored the negative impact that tacky tourism can have on local communities, including cultural degradation, resource exploitation, environmental damage, and social inequality.


However, by following a few simple guidelines, we can avoid being tacky tourists and instead become responsible travelers. Researching and respecting local customs, dressing appropriately, behaving respectfully, supporting local businesses, practicing sustainable tourism, and engaging with the local community are all crucial steps in this process.


Remember, our actions as travelers can have a lasting impact on the places we visit. By embracing cultural sensitivity, sustainability, and respect, we can contribute to the preservation of cultural heritage, the protection of the environment, and the overall well-being of the destinations we explore.


So let us strive to be more than just tourists – let us be respectful travelers who leave a positive impact on the communities we encounter. By doing so, we can create memorable and meaningful travel experiences while fostering mutual understanding, appreciation, and harmony between cultures.