So, youre all set to relocate to Spain, but you dont want to stand out like a tourist? Here are a few tips and tricks that will help you blend in.
The first thing to bear in mind is that local people, in any setting, especially in tourist areas like the Costa Blanca, can usually spot a foreigner a mile off anyway. Secondly, dont worry about being yourself as well. If you completely obliterate your own personality, you are likely to get very tired very quickly. Mostly, you want to not stand out as not knowing what you are doing in your new surroundings, and avoid being perceived as rude or arrogant.
The easiest way to start to look the part is to consider your clothing. Spain can be quite varied, depending on where you are, but as a general rule Spanish fashion has a degree of modesty. Particularly if you are not a teenager or student, consider dressing conservatively. While the youngsters wear jeans, T-shirts, and comfy sandals, older people place importance on quality and fit when it comes to clothes.
Summers are hot in Spain, so you will need light, breathable fabrics in light colours. Consider buying some of your clothes once you are there, because even their denim fabrics are lighter than you may be used to. Long sleeves and long trousers or skirts are often still worn in order to look smart and to protect the skin from the sun. Avoid wearing shorts in the towns or cities. It is generally frowned upon, and even if it isnt, it will definitely make you look like a tourist. Keep those, and your flip-flops, for the beach. Strappy tops are also not very common in the city, but avoid these completely if you plan on visiting any churches or other religious sites. Spain has a strong Catholic influence and visitors to significant sites should dress appropriately and respectfully. This usually means making sure shoulders and knees are covered.
Winter fashion tends to shift to muted autumnal tones of oranges and browns. Fabrics will be slightly heavier as the temperatures do drop. Leather jackets are very popular. Consider buying one that fits well once you are there. They tend to be widely available and well priced. Layer your look with scarves. This is also a useful way to change up a look if you arrive with a limited wardrobe.
In any season, avoid big logos or words printed on shirts, and stay away from very bright colours in your outfit. Tennis shoes and white socks are never worn except for sports and these items scream tourist. Generally stick with smart-casual and you wont go wrong. Even up market restaurants arent very formal in terms of dress code. An easy guideline would be; a collared shirt and long trousers with rubber soled leather shoes for men, and long skirt (trousers are also allowed), nice blouse, and leather shoes or sandals for women.
Most importantly, pay attention to the people around you and how they behave. Make an effort to learn the language early. Even just a few Spanish words or greetings will help you to be accepted quickly. Learn the lingo. For example, order a solo coffee, not an espresso, which is Italian. Order tapas as a pre-meal snack. It isnt dinner. Have a siesta in the afternoon and then head out for dinner late. Restaurants are usually only getting busy around 10pm.
Most importantly, plan ahead. Know where you intend to go and walk through town with confidence. Keep maps and guidebooks out of sight, that way you dont draw attention to the fact that you are foreign. And finally, be prepared to observe and adapt. If you get things wrong in the beginning, thats ok, learn and move on. Thats part of the fun of being in a new place and culture.