If you don’t travel overseas often you might not realise that sometimes it is the little things that can make a lot of difference. It might be the simple gesture of a handshake with the wrong hand offered causing offence. Or it could be the action of taking photos of the local females going about their daily business. As one of our members recently discovered, the clothes you are wearing could also have an impact on those around you in a foreign land.

I was wearing a baseball style long sleeved shirt with New York Jets on it however it was not as in the American Football New York Jets but a souvenir from the musical West Side Story which we’d seen on Broadway. I was going through the TSA screening point in San Juan when one of the staff mumbled semi-sarcastically “woo – go jets”. It suddenly dawned on me that I was wearing a shirt that wasn’t a sporting team but in fact was that of the American gang featured in WSS. The long and the short of it was that I was standing on enemy turf in San Juan as in Puerto Rico – home of the rival gang the Sharks.

Gangs or cliques are present in many parts of the world, including Australia. As a result, some overseas visitors to Australia could potentially also find themselves in trouble when visiting. Quite a few states now ban the wearing of certain bike club colours for instance. It will no doubt not be long before an overseas visitor falls foul of the law by wearing their colours when visiting. But it’s not just bikie or gang colours that you need to watch out for, it could also be as simple an act as wearing a shirt promoting your favourite car brand.

I wore a Holden Racing Team(red & black with logos) jumper on the train back from Long Beach to Studio City in LA. When we got back to our hotel room that evening a friend who lives in LA nearly had a pink fit that I’d worn a jumper through that area that was apparently the colours of the Bloods Gang. She apparently always wears neutral colours when in that area.

So what should you wear or pack in the hope of causing minimal offence. Generally camouflage patterned clothing is out. And in some popular tourist stopovers, the exposure of flesh should be kept to a bare minimum. It’s also usually a good idea to have covered shoes, and perhaps leave the footy singlets at home. In fact, as far as our members are concerned, plain clothes could be the best solution, adorned with country of origin indications for some destinations.

And for the record, my favorite long haul clothing is jeans and a black polo shirt. Casual but respectable, hasn´t offended anyone yet. At one stage I did work in a very anti-American country, and due to me being a white person, I used to always have Australiana stuff plainly visible, t-shirts, aussie carry bags, etc. I have still not found a race that hates Aussies – we are so lucky!

Have you had a risky moment when your clothes might have led to trouble, or do you have a recommendation that minimises the risk regardless of the country, join the conversation HERE.


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