First, let me offer a caveat (intelligence-report writers love caveats): The title of this article is a bit misleading. It is not always possible to completely “blend in” when you are an American traveling overseas (or, conversely, a foreigner traveling to America). That is the first thing to realize when and if you do choose to travel overseas, and if you are concerned with appearing like a clueless tourist, ready to be mugged. Fear not. There is nothing wrong with standing out a little, and embracing your tourist-hood.

The secret to traveling overseas and maintaining a low-ish profile is to be smart about it, so that you are a sophisticated tourist, aware of his or her surroundings, and not aimlessly stumbling about a foreign country snapping selfies and waiting to become a victim.

With that goal in mind—being a smart traveller—this author humbly offers the following advice and tips, based upon my multiple years spent living and traveling overseas. These things will make you just a little bit more prepared—a little bit more sophisticated—in your travels.

Plan an itinerary and study area maps

Nothing will give you more confidence in traveling to a new place like doing some map study and trip planning. You should know the area to which you are planning to travel, such that if plopped down in the middle of a chosen city, you will at least be oriented and familiar with your surroundings. If you also have an itinerary planned out—even a rough one—you will be less likely to find yourself disoriented and at a loss as to what to do next in this new foreign place.