Hey Besties! So I just returned from a well-deserved vacation to Belize. Met some interesting characters and I’m not talking about the Belizeans, I’m talking about the other Americans we met while we were there. Some of the things they would say or do were so “American” and obnoxious that it was embarrassing. And I’m not going to excluded myself because I am sure I exhibited some typical American behaviors.
So I began to wonder, when traveling, what are the tell-tell signs of an American tourist? Here we go!
1. The volume. You can hear Americans before you see them! Now my cousin who was with me is naturally loud, but dang, I feel like she got louder while we were traveling! Like, “girl please lower your voice”. LOL
2. Hey Girl!!! Especially true for us American women, the high tones when we greet someone! I think this is hilarious because this is definitely me at times. I’m guilty, I own it.
3. Clearly Americans have a fondness for American brands. Let’s stop with the North Face jackets, the god-awful UGGS, Patagonia zip-up, your favorite football team or University. WE GET IT! You’re from America! Let’s just be more creative with the wardrobe. (In my previous post I talk about blending in when traveling abroad, this is not it!)
4. Low tolerance for alcohol. “Mr. Drunkie Drunk” over by the bar either can’t hold his liquor or is just trying to get all his money’s worth at this all-inclusive joint. Either way it’s embarrassing so stop it. And a note, beer in Europe is much stronger than beer in the U.S., so pace yourself.
5. Tipping. Another dead giveaway! Most countries with exceptions, like Jamaica, don’t expect a tip, let alone a 20% tip. In Europe they look at you like you are an American, but they will happily except it. Good ole Americans, throwing money around. I had to check myself a few times when I was in Italy, especially with the Euro killing the Dollar.
6. We expect everyone to speak English. Local people don't speak English. Wait... local people don't speak ENGLISH? Maybe they'll understand you if you say everything LOUDER and SLOWER? No! When going to another country, learn a couple of phrases and typical questions in their language so the locals can see you are trying. They will appreciate your effort and a lot of times they will respond in English. When I traveled to Italy I learned several phrases to help me immerse myself in the culture. And I used some of my spanish in Belize and in Mexico.
7. Fanny Packs. Stop it! First of all, fanny means something entirely different in British English, so beware if you are traveling there. Secondly, a fanny pack? For real? Are you serious? They don’t even look good in the United States, let alone abroad. They are a clear invitation for thieves, and they’ve got ‘tourist’ written all over them. Leave this fashion faux pas in Walmart where it belongs. Please!
8. Americans are over-weight and other countries know it. So if you need some extra incentive to hit the gym, this is it. And remember when you are eating at a restaurant aboard, the portions that you are given are “normal” by every other country’s standards except America! Lol
9. We think water is free and a right. Guess what? It’s not! You aren’t in America. Not saying that all countries are like this but, just expect it. Pretty much every other country requires you pay for water so just be ready to dish out some coins.
10. Lastly, the smile. I’m sure you have a beautiful smile but it can be a little creepy in some cultures. Trust me, I’m Liberian, I know these things. In my culture, my family does not walk around smiling all day. A lesson I learned while I was there visiting. Lol. Smiles are a rare invitation to chat, especially from women. Old-fashioned American friendliness might get you a lot of conversation, but it won’t help you blend in.
Enjoy the Journey,