The Common Clothing Mistake Tourists Make On A Trip To Europe, According To Rick Steves

American tourists often stick out like sore thumbs, particularly in Europe. They're easy to spot, whether it's their accents, mannerisms, or how they always need to lean on things. Yet one detail that will make them stand out more is how they dress. Shorts, in particular, make it clear you're a tourist. That's why travel expert Rick Steves advises against wearing them. We swear by Steves' top travel tips; this fashion faux pas is no different.

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Europeans, in general, dress more formally than Americans. Even a casual look will be more dressed up than Americans are accustomed to. Don't let that deter you from visiting Europe, though, and remember to always follow these Rick Steves recommendations before traveling to make your life easier.

Steves said on his blog that locales like concert halls accommodate a more casual dress code during the high tourist season. However, he also notes that he will bring items like slacks and a collared shirt for dressier events. So long as you understand the slight cultural differences in dress, especially with items like shorts, you can happily enjoy your adventures without sacrificing comfort.

Shorts aren't common and can be an issue in many European countries

We get it; you want to be as comfortable as possible when you go on a trip. For a lot of folks, that means shorts in warmer climates. However, unlike a beach vacay in the Caribbean, you're bound to get some sideways glances in Europe. Why? Well, it's unusual to see folks in shorts in big European cities, and the threshold for appropriate shorts weather has a higher temperature than in the United States, explained Rick Steves on his blog.

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Besides just standing out, shorts are frequently inappropriate for certain locations, particularly for women. "Some churches, mostly in southern Europe, have modest-dress requirements: no shorts or bare shoulders," Steves wrote. "Except at the strict St. Peter's Basilica (in Rome) and St. Mark's (in Venice), the dress code is often loosely enforced. Synagogues and mosques may require women to cover their hair. At some heavily touristed churches with strict dress codes, people hand out sheets of tissue paper you can wrap around yourself like a shawl or skirt."

These expectations don't mean shorts are totally out of the question. It's just important to know when you should or shouldn't wear them on your trip. You'll also fit in better if you avoid athletic or cargo shorts, too, since those are uncommon in European fashion.

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What to wear instead of shorts on your trip to Europe

Opting to wear less touristy clothes isn't just about outward fashion or utility when visiting places that might have dress codes. By blending in, you'll guard yourself more against thieves who intentionally target tourists. However, choosing more modest clothes doesn't mean being less comfortable.

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Some garments, like capris, can alleviate warm temperatures while other breathable options provide sleek, non-short comfort. Guide Joan Robinson told Rick Steves for his blog that European travel fashion has several terrific options. "Skirts (knee-length is appropriate for churches) are as cool and breathable as shorts, but dressier, and have a key advantage over dresses: They can be worn with a money belt," she advised. "A lightweight skirt made with a blended fabric packs compactly. Make sure it has a comfy waistband. Skirts can easily be mixed and matched, and can be dressed up with flats or boots."

Depending on your itinerary, it may be better to leave the shorts at home. We highly recommend following Rick Steves' genius tip for planning a successful vacation while in the planning phase. If you want to bring shorts anyway, consider packing an oversized scarf to wrap around your legs if you have to when visiting holy spaces with strict guidelines. Do some research and try to pack your luggage around your itinerary. It'll make for a much smoother trip.

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