Listen up, world travelers!
It’s pretty much impossible for anyone to travel to another country and fit in seamlessly with the locals. No matter where you go, the customs and practices will never be exactly the same as they are in your hometown, and you’re bound to do something that gives away the fact that you’re not a resident.
This is especially true of most American travelers. You might think you’re doing a great job of speaking the language and blending in, but, well…most likely, you’re not. In fact, you’re probably doing the complete opposite of blending in.
A recent AskReddit thread asked people to reveal the things that prove someone is an American tourist (besides their accents, of course). Their answers were super fascinating and really covered a lot of different aspects from the way tourists dress to their mannerisms. If you have a trip coming up, this is a good list to study so you hopefully don’t embarrass yourself!
Don’t wait to be seated.
When visiting Paris my wife and I learned they don’t seat you at restaurants.
You just walk in and sit down at an available table.
We figured it out after standing around at the entrance a few times. Then we started noticing other American tourists doing the same.
While in Korea, I was casually talking to a friend on the bus in a regular speaking voice.
Not even a minute later, the lady in front of us turns around in her seat and says very casually, “please calm down.”
I guess American volume is noticeably louder.
This is so true.
When they introduce themselves they never say they’re from America.
Mostly just the state/city they’re from.
Saying “Hi, how are you?” to the barista, servers, retail workers.
My country doesn’t quite have that culture so I find it really sweet.
Bold American confidence.
The absolute fearlessness of asking anyone on the street about anything.
I don’t mean this negatively, I’m just saying I’ve seen Americans approach people both in my home country and abroad starting conversations with them that I wouldn’t dream of because they look shady or just plain scary.
Example, I was in Newcastle and I see a bald-headed skinny man with face tattoos and a tracksuit suddenly asked, “Hey bud, d’ya know where…” It’s quite admirable.
Being called African-American while living in The Netherlands.
Simple as that.
When I went to Italy with a friend, I couldn’t figure out why everyone greeted me in English before I said a word.
I don’t wear running shoes outside of the gym, I dress pretty posh, I can’t remember the last time I owned a baseball cap, and I try to have a basic grasp on the local language. How can they tell I’m American?
My friend told me, “It’s because you’re smiling at them.”
Your politeness may betray you.
Some of yous are way more polite than expected.
Whenever I hear someone say “ma’am” I know they’re American.
Like one time I was in Lidls and there was an American family asking someone who worked there if they sold “cell phones” and when the woman said they didn’t they were all “oh okay, thank you for your time ma’am! Have a great day!” which is much more cheery than the average Scot.
Just get 1,000 black socks and never worry about matching socks again.
Last time I saw a question like this, someone answered “white socks” and it made me start wearing black socks for the next few years.
Americans: we love you! Join us!
Over 40, the tourists tend to be more on the very overweight side, but the women still wear yoga pants and the men always have a combination of button-up shirts and loose-fitting cargo shorts. And both men and women wear baseball caps and Oakley’s or sunglasses similar to that style; with white trainers.
Under 40, you’re very friendly, in a way that’s both endearing and creepy. When we chat I feel like I’m being indoctrinated into a cult.
And you know it’s always a flip-phone.
Their phone will be on a belt loop.
Drape it over us, like we do with our freedoms.
“Whoa! Cool iPad!”
For some reason, American tourists in Norway always seem to be marveled at how technologically advanced Norway is. Read: how everywhere takes and prefers card, how chuggers that go about with those money jugs also have a sign with an account number you can send money to, how there’s a lot of electric cars here, etc etc etc.
We do like to talk…
Many of the things Americans say loudly include many irrelevant details. In Israel, no one cares about irrelevant details. “Yes” or “no” answers are of high value in middle eastern culture; but in American culture, we like to tell you all about why something is or that our daughter got married last year or that our cat has diabetes.
“Must be pretty cool to have not been destroyed for so long.”
They’re amazed by things which are more than 200 years old, presumably because they don’t have many things that old in the USA.
They make you do push-ups in the military, you know.
I remember I was a small kid in Tijuana, American tourists were typically a lot more good looking than the local population. The girls were hot and the Marines that would come around from San Diego looked like superheroes and made these other guys look like garbage.
The military tourists were always very friendly to me and made me want to be like them when I grew up, which is why I’m going to enlist in the USMC a few years after college, haha.
Nothing is worse than sunburns. Nothing.
I always felt embarrassingly under-dressed when traveling in Europe.
On the flip side, as a native Arizonan I can always spot the European/English tourist because they will be bright red.
“Wait, you drive in a circle?!”
In the UK, first-time American tourists look bewildered trying to navigate their rental car in busy roundabouts (traffic circles).
We love ourselves. All of ourselves.
I’m from Minnesota but I always say “Minneapolis” because it sounds cooler.
You ask where they’re from and they say a state rather than a country.
Love when Americans throw a tantrum.
Moaning like idiots when they can’t use their credit card. “We can do this back home!”
Sometimes we just wear ball-caps because we didn’t have time to wash our hair. Ever think of that, Germany?
I lived in Germany for 10 years. One of the biggest giveaways was either baggy or cargo shorts (knee length), fanny packs, or ball caps. Ball caps are pretty much an instant giveaway because they’re not really popular anywhere else.
Your clothes hurt their eyes.
My French teacher said wearing colorful clothes during the winter would give an American away in France.
At the Louvre you have to pay to go to the restroom. When you walk in it’s like a lobby woman’s on the right men’s on the left. In between is a desk where you prepay. And on the back wall across from that is COLORED TOILET PAPER.
Yes, boo. So as soon as I walk in I fuhreak. I’m like 15 so I’m still pretty young. Well, no one else seemed as interested in the TP as I was..until.
More Americans my age come busting in, it’s a whole group of em shouting “COLORED TOILET PAPERRRR!!”
The following convo is the most upbeat, lit conversation you can imagine:
“Yo, are y’all American!?”
“Omg yes! Are you?”
“Yeah! I’m from Texas”
“Omg us too!”
You’ll want to remember the moment.
Look for the people taking selfies in front of land marks.
“This does not look like the frozen dinner version I eat every weeknight.”
Staring confusedly at the food you just ordered. Beef Stroganoff in a fancy restaurant doesn’t look like your Hamburger Helper version, and fish soup is traditionally served with the head still attached.
Americans be chattin.’
They’re usually tanned, and grinning ear to ear as they marvel loudly about some aspect of our culture. Also very likely to strike up conversation with any passer by, which many of the locals here (rural UK) find intimidating or annoying.
Americans do what they want! Freedom!
Touching everything behind “Do not touch” sign.
They are, in a word, beautiful.
You usually hear their mating call first but once you spot it the plumage is quite distinct.
You kinda get used to it.
They take their shoes off for airport security, even when there is a sign saying not to take shoes off.
It’s a safari!
In Southern Chile, the American tourists walk through the downtown with clothes like they’re on an expedition — hiking boots, pants, hat, etc. It’s like, what are you doing, you are in the city????
Haha, funny t-shirts are funny.
I used to live in the highlands of Scotland and every year what felt like the whole of America descended upon us.
I always found the easiest way to spot an American tourist was they would be wearing a t-shirt with a slogan that said something along the lines of:
‘My clan’s x-y-z, what’s yours?’ Or ‘I’m here to find my ancestors, what’s your excuse?’
Americans understand foreign places.
I live in Canada. My grandfather loved to tell the story of the time he saw tourists driving across the border from the US to Canada with Skis on their car… in July. I would say that’s a solid giveaway.
A true American is ashamed of their American-ness.
If they say they’re Canadian there is a 50 percent chance they’re actually a self-conscious/self-aware American.
Which sucks because if you’re a well behaved American you shouldn’t hide it, we need to balance out the loud annoying Americans with the awesome ones.
Keep those legs breezy.
Shorts. Most Europeans will wear tight ass pants all year long, even when its like 90 degrees outside.
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They also wear that funny shirt that says “Ha! Now you can’t see me!” — a very funny shirt.
Camo. Anyone wearing camo is automatically American.
“Where am I supposed to go to fight a mountain lion with my bare hands?”
Asking for books on Nelson Mandela or when they’re surprised that you can speak English and that there is infrastructure and no wild animals roaming the streets. They seem kinda disappointed afterwards.
Old = impressive.
They get amazed by old things.
Girlfriend used to work on a farm and an estate in the U.K. and would often have Americans in awe of the old buildings.
One once said, “Some of these buildings are older than my country.”
What am I supposed to do with this?
If you see an American in Japan, they will frantically look for public trash cans.
The absence of trash receptacle is something unfounded in the US, and we become confused at the idea of having to hold it for extended periods of time.
Don’t call it a “restroom.”
Asking for the restroom.
I mean, obviously the accent was then heard too but in my little village in Scotland I was in the pub and a woman politely asked the barman where the restrooms were.
He didn’t know wtf she was on about and then it obviously clicked. “Ye mean the toilet? Aye hen it’s joost back ‘err.”
Here’s a tip.
Americans will try to tip everyone, even in countries where tipping isn’t a thing/is considered a serious insult.
Sorry, we’re closed.
They’re looking for a store open at like 11 pm.
Even if in most European countries stores close at like 7-8 pm.
I’m half Japanese and I live in Japan.
Basically, we automatically assume any white person is American.
It’s the shoes.
I walked into a museum in Germany and the women selling tickets greeted us in English.
We were dressed conservatively and hadn’t said a word, yet she knew. I asked her how, and she said, “it’s your shoes.”
Indeed, I was wearing running shoes.
Extra ice in their drinks.
“Outspoken” is a nice way to put it.
They are very outspoken.
At my local aquarium the other day I heard a lady very loudly say, “Have the penguins gone to bed? Can we not see them? Y’all the penguins have gone to bed y’all missed em.”
I taught English in Japan.
One of the ways we got the students to speak was to make them guess where we were from because they had a hard time differentiating between American, British, Aussie, etc. accents.
After a year, none of them ever guessed I was American so I asked them why: “Americans are fat and loud. You’re small and quiet!”
That’s not how it works.
This is going to sound made up just because of how ridiculous this is, I wouldn’t believe it myself hadn’t I have seen this happen myself.
Back when I lived in Poland, there was a couple standing in front of me in the line at a Mcdonald’s who were outraged that Mcdonald’s didn’t accept US dollars as a form of payment
“But Mcdonald’s is American!” (Actual quote from the guy.)
Just a reminder: this was in Poland.
I’m not 100% sure but I think they were American.
If they buy peanut butter.
It sounds very weird, but everyone who buys peanut butter where I work turns out to be American.
I wouldn’t have guessed this one.
When they comment about the driving.
Quite a vivid picture.
Baseball caps, University spirit wear, cargo shorts, free t-shirts from events with ads and text all over them, and for the older Americans they always seem to just kinda stand in the middle of everything looking around.
I love this one:
I was at a beach where music was playing and “Sweet Caroline” came on.
I told my sister (we are both Hispanic, but I live in the US): “Hey, if you are wondering who here is from the US, you are about to find out.”
10 seconds later: PA PA PAAAAAA
Not necessarily a good thing.
I have never seen someone walk so confidently in the wrong direction like an American can.
Don’t count on having the right of way.
When they cross the street, they expect cars to stop for them.
In my country, the cars will run you down without thinking twice.
It’s a real look.
Beige cargo shorts and very very white legs.
The way they like to say “oh you call this X? We call that Y in America” or something along those lines.
Time vs. distance.
I don’t have much experience in foreign countries as an American but I heard we “measure” distances in time.
(Ex. It is 4 miles to our destination vs It takes 7 minutes to our destination.)
I would say impeccable facial hair.
Maybe they get a trim before they go on holiday but I’m always impressed by their tidy beards and mustaches.
They ask for ketchup.
Share this with someone who has an upcoming trip!