Though I rarely feel self-conscious when I travel, I am certain some people do. I figure it is fairly obvious what I am to natives, so I don’t really worry about it. But people do seem to ask about my ethnic heritage, when they see me, and hear perfect English. The question becomes, “What are you?” When I say I am an American, they ask further, “No, what are you, really?”
Invariably, I have to ask them what an American looks like. Then I further confuse them by saying that they look like an American! Whether I am in Europe, Africa, or South America, I tell them that Americans look like just about anyone.
But are we that obvious when we visit some of these countries? There might be some stereotypes among us.
(Some borrowed for Alot, some are my own)
Nose buried in cellphone This started out as just an American thing, but it has caught on, both among the young people in foreign countries, as well as older travelers.
Requesting ice in drinks Now, I really resent this one. My friends in South Africa not only request ice for their wine, they request an ice bucket filled with ice. But I think most of us know not to drink the water (ice) in most places we visit outside of the U.S.
The ubiquitous baseball cap I see nothing wrong with this, but I am guilty as charged. I need a cap to keep the sun off of my continuing bald head. But I think the cap worn backwards is somewhat irritating to our hosts in more conservative countries.
White socks Who does this anymore, except the octogenarians, who should not be exposing their untanned legs anyway? But it is getting “cool” again to wear white socks with white tennies. Go figure!
White teeth Who else but Americans are obsessed with white teeth? Nobody.
Fanny packs I thought this fad died about a decade or two ago.
“Hey Bro” Why do we call everyone Bro or buddy? Is it a term of endearment? Or are we just trying too hard? I prefer the more respectful version, “sir”, don’t you?
Pfootbol Yes, we prefer our football to theirs. Nothing can be done about this. But, I will say, walk into a “soccer” bar and I guarantee you will have an entertaining evening.
Walking while eating Are we always in a hurry or is it a bad habit. I say, join the cafe’ culture, and enjoy the moment.
Eating at American chains Please, if you just spent 8 to 12 hours on a place, please try the local cuisine!
Getting drunk Why?
Prudish about nudity Certainly not about their female nudity!
Talking to strangers I do this all the time. How do you think I met Barry the V, Katy, Jason and Chun??
Feelings We tend to show our true feelings quite easily. I don’t see anything wrong with tis, as long it is not offensive or vulgar.
Wearing shorts Now I am really offended. I work out and have a tan, so I earned the right. Those of you with skinny, fat, hairy or pasty white legs, you wear the long trousers!
Tipping Yes, guilty as charged, Americans tip too much!
Accent or lack thereof Other than our Southerners or Bostonians, we come off as fairly neutral. Don’t try to imitate the local accent, it pisses them off!
Speaking loudly Yes, we Americans are guilty as charged. Try to tone it down!
Respect the local customs Like taking your shoes off when entering a room in Asia. Or asking permission to take a photo.
Using hand sanitizer Even before Covid, I was a firm believer in using hand sanitizer, particularly in Third World countries. But it is an “American” thing!
Logos Personally, I could care less about your logos. But it does mark us as Americans. We love them all, but North Face seems to be the once that marks us as American.
Obnoxious T shirts This is definitely an American thing. But while in Hanoi, with Mr. Mike, his T shirt was getting all the attention from passersby and other tourists. What did it say? In about 15 different languages, “Not my President!” Everyone wanted to take a photo with him.
Laughing too loud Okay, it is mostly the young females, but it is an American thing.
Leaving a mess This goes for your restaurant table, your hotel room, or your airline seat. Please!
Overpacking Actually, I think with the ridiculous baggage fees, we are getting better. I see the Europeans and Chinese as taking over this dubious habit.
Disrespect Nothing embarrasses me more than a fellow American who acts like an ASS!
Too many selfies I think everyone is guilty of this, not just American teenagers.
Haggle or negotiate Americans are typically not good at this. Just remember to do it with respect and in the right spirit.
Smoking or vaping Asians and Europeans are worse than Americans!
Barefoot Never go barefoot, except for the beach!
Torn jeans I know it is popular, but not for travel.
Just remember, you are representing an entire nation, a rich and educated culture, and something that many people in the world aspire to. Just be respectful, and everything will take care of itself!