We all know of the geographical tourist trap, in which suckers are lured somewhere and forced to buy a chewed pyramid eraser for five dollars.
Though this is the most common understanding of the phrase “tourist trap,” there are other, non-geographical tourist traps. This picture, taken at an ancient Egyptian temple in Aswan, demonstrates two of them.
Trap #1: Looking like a fool
If you’ll notice, the man standing next to me in this picture is wearing a pith helmet and a long sleeved khaki shirt that is ideal for archaeological excavation or rainforest trail beating. I can’t remember what he was wearing on his bottom or feet, but for the purpose of this discussion, let us believe he was sporting long shorts and thick soled boots.
Carefully selected according to internet research and documentaries based in the early 1900’s, this man’s attire clearly identifies him as a colonizer, an imperialist, and an unpleasant reminder of a confusing and difficult time in Egyptian history.
Though the costume is well chosen for archaeological excavation circa 1920, not only it is horribly outdated, but it is also ill-suited for his main tourist tasks, which are taking pictures and eating out 3 times a day.
Many tourists, when traveling to areas perceived as “exotic” or “developing,” will unfortunately resort to donning adventure wear. The reality is that even countries like Egypt, Ecuador, Morocco, and Jordan—to name a few—have major cities in which the inhabitants wear clothes that resemble the latest H&M threads more than the outfits European explorers wore a century ago.
The entire adventure clothes industry thrives off of selling people the very cargo pants, shirts with zip-off pockets, and shoes with built-in canteens that will make them look like idiots. In order to drive home the point that these people are clueless, the travel wear company might as well sell big foam fingers for more noticeable pointing and ankle bells to alert locals when a tourist is coming so they can look “native.”
Trap #2: Tourism-Induced-Sleepiness
Another lesser known tourist trap is the trap of tourism-induced-sleepiness, as exhibited by the young people on either side of my head. In my own experience, drowsiness attacks me the very second I enter a historical site, particularly one with open spaces, marble floors, and an appropriately cool atmosphere—museums are particularly perilous. After three historical visits in a row, I enter a very sleepy danger zone. The only way to cure this condition is by taking a long nap on a soft, white, hotel bed, or getting a latte. Either way it’s a win.
The sleepiness is not necessarily a bad thing. On the other hand, adventure wear—except for joke purposes–is always ill-advised.