The white shoe brigade are back with a different tread
On Australia’s Gold Coast in the 1980’s there was a group of entrepreneurs supposedly engaged in shady property deals with the Queensland Government.
By wearing gaudy and tasteless clothing and shoes and belts of white leather they were branded in the media as the “white shoe brigade”.
Australia is experiencing a re-emergence of the white shoe brigade but in a different context.
Visit the international departure lounge of any Australian airport on any day and you will see plenty of examples.
They are generally Australian couples spending superannuation or savings and embarking on an overseas trip often for the first time. Many of these intrepid Aussie tourists wear brand spanking new blinding white sneakers.
Probably they have read a travel guide or had friendly advice from a friend urging them to “wear comfortable walking shoes.” A quick visit to a large retail store in their nearest shopping centre will reveal a wide selection of brand spanking new blinding white sneakers that you can walk miles in.
There is no doubt that for older Australians the shoelaces on sneakers are easier to pull and tie than the smaller laces on regular shoes.
The downside is that wearing white sneakers with darker coloured slacks or jeans actually makes them appear larger because the elongated line from darker pants flowing into a darker shoe is lost.
White sneakers also show wear, tear and dirt more quickly than coloured sneakers or regular shoes.
Sneakers are meant for exercise but many of these tourists wearing white sneakers have never done anything athletic recently and look badly out of shape.
Two other accessories are often worn in conjunction with the white sneakers by these travelling couples. One is the bum-bag worn around the waist and intended to protect travel documents and foreign cash and credit cards from pickpockets.
US travellers call these bags “fanny packs” due to the way they are positioned on the tourist.
The second almost obligatory accessory for these tourist couples is matching Akubra style hats worn as distinctive Aussie headwear.
Displaying a lack of dress sense along with a lack of sophistication can make these Aussie tourists an easy target. When travelling in a foreign country avoid standing out like a sore thumb. Not only are these travellers more likely to be sucked into tourist traps but also they become more obvious to muggers.
Gypsy pickpockets in Europe and other small time criminals usually work in tourist-frequented areas such as airports, rail stations, shopping areas, tourist attractions and festivals. White sneakers, bum-bags and distinctive Aussie style hats do not help to blend in with the locals.
There are many other travel tips that can assist in not making it obvious to the rest of the world that you are a tourist.
If dress and behaviour stereotype you as an Aussie tourist and you don’t really care then be prepared to encounter some resistance from the locals if you seek assistance or information.
Travelling as a tourist to a foreign country should really be about blending in, being open minded and wanting to experience a different culture. If that is not what you want then why bother to leave home?
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