Don't set a bad example when traveling abroad.
We've traveled to a decent amount of countries and occasionally we run into other American tourists while abroad. Sometimes running into other Americans in foreign countries is exciting but sometimes it's a real pain in the ass. Heres a couple tips on how to set a good example as an American traveler abroad.
Imagine, you’re in Mexico and you hike through the jungle to find a sacred cenote (a beautiful waterhole - see pic below) with crystal clear water. It is nothing short of majestic. You take in the sounds of the jungle resonating in such a beautiful place. Ripples appear in the water caused by droplets running down vines towering above you. But then something happens, a group of Americans appear playing loud music, yelling, cannonballing into the water, chanting “jump, jump, jump” with complete disregard for everyone else.
Ik-Kil Cenote - Mexico
Don't be a typical American traveler
I mean I get it, they’re on vacation too. But sometimes I can't help but feel like many Americans are incredibly disrespectful to local sites and culture when traveling abroad. We just kind of waltz in and act like we own the place.
A local native who was also at this beautiful cenote asked us, “How can people be so disrespectful?” We didn't have a good answer for her and simply apologized for our fellow American’s behavior. We all ended up leaving as the group of Americans came in and took over the place.
This definitely is not the only time we've experienced something like this. Another thing that blows my mind is when Americans get upset when they see nudity in Europe. If you’ve never been to Europe, it's quite common for Europeans to swim partially or fully naked on beaches, lakes, and rivers. What is frustrating is when Americans talk trash about these people for just living life, being free, and doing what their culture has done for thousands of years. Like, if it's so offensive to you just go somewhere else!?! Also, why are you so prude??
Something else we've noticed in Europe in particular is that Americans often get visibly upset about “slow” service at restaurants. Unlike America, many Europeans want to take their time at restaurants to socialize and actually talk to one another. It's quite common to sit and chat for several hours at a restaurant. Also, unlike America, servers are usually paid a full wage so there is no rush to push tables in and out to maximize tips. The entire dining experience is much more laid back. I personally love it, but some folks can't handle it.
I also find it kind of funny when Americans get upset when American dollars are not accepted in every country in the world. Sure, tons of places take dollars especially in Central America and the Caribbean. But don't get upset when they won't take your dollars in Germany, France, or a multitude of other countries. Be a good traveler and get at least some of the local currency beforehand. Plus, who doesn't love collecting leftover foreign money from their travels?
A Town in the Black Forest - Germany
We spend a TON of time on TripAdvisor researching cool new sites to check out while abroad. In fact, one of our favorite pastimes is reading all of the really, REALLY bad reviews on TripAdvisor of places we've visited. We really get a kick out of folks who give a shitty review to a business because the weather was bad, or there were just too many steps to get to the castle. It just makes Americans sound like spoiled pretentious cry babies. Do America a solid and don't be that person!
I guess my whole point of this post is just to teach folks to be considerate of other people’s culture, customs, and way of life. Celebrating our differences across the world is what makes travel so beautiful. People are beautiful. If we were all the same the world would be such a boring place. There is so much to learn from different cultures and there are incredible benefits from seeing the world through a different lens.
Beautiful People in the Streets of Venice, Italy
I apologize for the somewhat negative tone of the article but hopefully it will inspire folks tone open to different culture abroad and set a good example as an American traveler!