Blending In in Russia
While it’s almost impossible to completely blend in when visiting Russia, there are some ways you can make yourself less obvious as a tourist.
Purse vs. Backpack
If you’re carrying a large backpack, you’re going to stand out like a sore thumb. Most Russians carry a purse, shoulder bag, or small backpack, and doing so can help you look less like a target for pickpockets.
Neutrals vs. Bright Colors & Patterns
European style is a lot more professional and follows a very neutral color scheme. More often than not, women are wearing heels and men are wearing nice jackets. This isn’t to say that you have to buy a brand-new wardrobe to fit in; just pack your clothes that are the most neutral in color and pattern.
Look like you know where you’re going. Of course, you can use your phone as a map, but be sure that while using your phone, you glance casually at your phone, rather than constantly looking down and up around you. While a large paper map might seem like a good idea, using some sort of app or online map is likely to be more updated than any paper map. Check out this post for more tips for getting around.
Quiet vs. Loud
Russian are a lot more conservative than Americans, so talk and laugh quietly. It’s a rare sight to see strangers smiling at each other, so, even though in America it’s polite to smile to strangers on the street or metro, in Russia, remember that it’s politer to just leave people alone.
The General Rule of Thumb
A summary of the advice for blending in is subtly in everything. Whether your clothes, voice, or map, you always want to lean towards subtly. Enjoy yourself, because Russia really is a wonderful place to visit! However, do not sacrifice safety or politeness for your own enjoyment.