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Tacky Tourist Costume Ideas: DIY Inspiration

Tacky tourist costumes never fail to make people giggle. They’re the kind of outfits that scream, “I’m on vacation, baby!” While most actual tourists don’t dress this way, tourist costumes can be a fun costume idea for Halloween or school spirit days.

In this article, you’ll learn how to make a tacky tourist costume using stuff you already have! By starting with base layers, adding tourist accessories, and practicing a few silly tourist behaviors you’ll be ready to turn heads and win costume contests. I’ll even show you how to ham up your tacky tourist costume by choosing from a list of tourist types (like a travel influencer couples costume, or senior bus tour group costume) and rocking the look.

  1. School spirit. Some high schools (especially in tourist areas) include tacky tourist day in their school spirit week. It’s a fun way to show your school pride and vent some frustration at all the local tourism. Any maybe you’ll even win “best costume.”

  2. Tourist Halloween Costume. Tacky tourist costumes are a classic option for the spookiest day of the year. It’s a great not-scary costume for years when you’re home and not taking a halloween vacation.

A man dressed in an over the top tourist costume.

Stay cool not cringe: There’s a fine line between a clever tacky tourist costume and a cringe-worthy one. It’s funny to poke fun at genres, ideas, and behaviors, but never at specific groups of people. To show respect towards others, avoid mocking accents, stigmatizing marginalized groups, or wearing a fat suit/padding. Embrace resort-wear and a sunscreen-smeared nose- just make sure you’re doing it with kindness.

What to Wear for Tacky Tourist Day: Outfit Ideas

In this section, I’ll show you how to dress like a tourist with clothes you already have. And, I’ll show you how transforming into a tourist character isn’t just about the clothes – it’s also about the accessories and how you act the part. Follow these simple steps, and channel your inner tacky tourist in no time.

First, choose your base layer clothing:

Start with the basic clothes, then we’ll accessorize. Heres where to start:

  1. 👚 A bright, floral or Hawaiian shirt. If you don’t have one, try borrowing one from a friend or family member.
    • If you still can’t find one, good alternatives include a polo shirt (masculine look), floral sundresses (femme look), or a T-shirt (think: “I ❤️ New York” or “I went to Hoover Dam and all I got was this damn shirt”).
  2. 🩳 Shorts. Pair the shirt with khaki or cargo shorts. If you don’t have these, try using any type of shorts you have in your closet. It’s okay if they don’t match the shirt- the goal is to look tacky!
  3. 🧦 Wear white socks with sandals or sneakers. This is a classic tacky tourist look that can be achieved easily with items you already own. Remember- sensible shoes only!
  4. 👒 Find a hat to wear on your head. Bucket hats, visors, and sun hats work best but just about any hat can ham up this look. If it’s got a chin strap? Even better!
  5. 🌺 Neck wear. If you’re embodying a specific tourist type, copy the neck wear. Hawaiian tourists love leis, while tour groups are often recognized by matching lanyards.

With these basic, you’ve got a solid start for a DIY tacky tourist costume – hopefully without spending any money on clothes. Now, we accessorize!

Next, choose 3-4 accessories

  1. 📷 Camera: A camera is a classic tourist accessory. No, don’t use your phone, ham it up by wearing a chunky ol fashioned camera around your neck or using an iPad to take photos.
  2. 🗺️ Guidebooks and maps: These can be carried in a fanny pack or backpack, or even folded and tucked into a pocket. For added tackiness, consider highlighting or circling various tourist attractions on the map.
  3. 🎒 Backpack or daypack: A backpack or daypack can be used to carry other tacky tourist essentials, such as sunscreen, water bottles, and binoculars. Look for a brightly colored backpack or one with a bold pattern to add to the tackiness.
  4. 💵 Money Belt: Tourists often use money belts because they believe it will help prevent pickpocketing (it doesn’t) If you’ve got a money belt handy, overstuff it with folded paper and wear it slightly-poking-out from under your shirt.
  5. 😎 Sunglasses: Oversized or brightly colored sunglasses can add a touch of tackiness to any tourist outfit. Look for a pair with a fun shape or design.
  6. Fanny pack or waist pouch: A fanny pack or waist pouch is the ultimate tacky tourist accessory. (Doesn’t match your shirt? Even better!)
  7. Water bottle: A water bottle is a practical and in-character addition to any tourist costume. Gotta hydrate!
  8. Travel pillow: A neck pillow with a tacky pattern or design can add an extra layer of humor to a tacky tourist costume.
  9. Binoculars: For tourist costume authenticity, binoculars can be hung from a strap or carried in a pouch hooked on a belt for added authenticity.

Complete your costume by acting like a tourist:

A bit of performance can make a costume truly memorable! Consider how you can embody the tourist vibe and bring it to life through mannerisms, expressions, and interactions. Here’s some suggestions:

  1. Mispronounce Local Words. Speak loudly and ask for directions to a local landmark, while slightly mispronouncing it each time. 
  2. Point. Point frequently and ask obscure questions about the history of your surroundings.
  3. Pose. Make stereotypical tourist poses in front of landmarks, such as standing with your arms wide open and your mouth agape.
  4. Take Photos. Take lots of pictures of everything, even things that are not particularly interesting. For extra authenticity, take photos using a full size iPad
  5. Sanitize. Constantly pull hand sanitizer from your purse, fanny pack, or waist pouch and offer it to others.
  6. Use a Map. Use a guidebook or map to navigate, but hold it upside down or sideways.
  7. Umbrella. Carry a large umbrella on a sunny day or wear a sun visor at night. (Hint, in Seattle, umbrellas always give away the tourists!)
  8. Apply Sunscreen. Fill an empty sunscreen bottle with a light lotion and apply it constantly throughout the day with exaggerated vigor.
  9. Take lots of selfies or ask strangers to take your photo.
  10. Act Weary. Pretend you’re dragging yourself back to the car after a day at a theme park. Complain about your blisters.

Practical Costume Considerations

If you decide to go all out for tacky tourist school spirit day, halloween, or the end-of-season-bash at the resort where you work- good for you! But before you build your costume, there’s one thing you need to consider: comfort.

After all, you’re going to be wearing this costume all day. You don’t want to be hauling around a 4lb DSLR camera around your neck through 6th-period history class! So how do you make sure your tacky tourist get-up is comfortable enough for a full day of learning? Choose comfortable, breathable clothes that fit your body. If you plan to wear the costume all day, avoid heavy props (or plan a way to carry them easily).

A man dressed in an over the top tourist costume with hawaiian lei.

DIY Tacky Tourist Costumes: Tips to Make Your Own

Not only is this costume easy to put together with items you likely already have in your closet, but it’s also a chance to be lighthearted about your own cringey tourist behaviors.

In this section, we’ll explore some especially DIY tacky tourist costume ideas that will have your friend keeling over with laughter. From fanny packs to flower leis, here’s how to make your own costume without spending money on a cheap costume:

  • Print your own maps. Remember the print feature on google maps? It still works!
  • Ask your local buy nothing for a broken camera– it’s free to ask!
  • Transform your look with makeup and hair gel. Just choose a style 10 or 20 years out-of-style and you’ll channel your inner tacky tourist.
  • Use makeup you already have. Layer the reddest blush you’ve got for a quintessential tourist sunburn, or apply a pale foundation with streaks to mimick the tourist caked with poorly applied sunscreen.
  • Ham it up. Actions speak louder than… costume elements. Pointing, photo taking, and gawking will “sell” the costume better than any prop. 

Specific Tacky Tourist Costume Ideas for Single, Couples, and Groups:

  • Sunburned resort guy: This costume is for the guy (or gal!) who spent a little too much time soaking up the sun on his resort vacation. He’s sporting a bright red sunburn (DIY it with blush or red-facepaint) and beachy clothes. Add in some flip flops and a beach towel and you’ve got a kitchy sun-soaked look. It’s a lighthearted way to poke fun at the realities of vacationing.
  • Honeymooners, RV retirees, or #vanlife couples make inspiration for great tacky tourist couples costumes: This costume is all about embracing the cheesiness of a particular travel style. kitchy souvenirs from a honeymoon, camping gear, or senior-friendly athleisure-wear can round out the particular look. A tourist mom-and-dad duo can coordinate their outfits to match, complete with camera straps and sandals with socks.
  • Seniors’ bus tour group costume: This costume is all about embracing the charm of a senior citizen bus tour. Think Bermuda shorts, floral shirts, and comfy sneakers. Add in some visors, lanyards and binoculars and you’re styling like a group of adventurous retirees. It’s a respectful way to celebrate the particular style of a favorite travel style of retirement golden years.
  • Disney adult costume: This niche tacky tourist costume is a fun excuse to go all out embodying meme-worthy millennial Disney fandom. Pair black leggings with a theme park shirt and the iconic mouse ear hat or headbands. Carry a giant purse and offer people snacks!
  • Tourist couples costume: Instagram Travel Influencer and “Influencer Boyfriend”: Wear whatever the Kardashians are schlepping and act too cool for your surroundings. Pose frequently while directing “Instagram boyfriend” to take photos. Then disengage from everyone to check social media. (PS, that’s not really what it’s like to be a travel influencer!)

What does a tourist actually look like?

Real tourists look ordinary and usually wear comfortable, travel-friendly street clothes. Many tourists research clothing styles in their destinations in advance, precisely to avoid looking like a tourist! Few real tourists embody these tacky tourist outfit ideas, but exaggerating extremes is the fun of a costume!

Final Tips

Whether it’s for school spirit day, Halloween, or just a themed party, a tacky tourist costume is all about embracing the cheesy and over-the-top elements of vacation attire. Just remember to stay comfortable in your clothing choices and avoid mocking specific groups of people. With these tips in mind, you’ll be able to rock your tacky tourist costume with confidence and humor. So go ahead and channel your inner tourist – it’s time to embrace the tackiness!